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Profiles And Interviews

C.Martino. Surf Shrines and Requiems

Let’s be honest.  We have all looked at our old broken boards with teary eyes and grand ideas of turning them into some special piece of wall art that our surfer friends will rave about the next time they visit.  It’s hard to part with old friends.  If only these pieces could become a sweet lamp, mail box, totem pole……something.  I mean, we can’t just throw them away.  Can we?

Well, I happened to be down near San Diego visiting my Sister in a town called Solana Beach.  We were just finishing up lunch when she asked me if I wanted to check out a gallery in town with an exhibit of recycled surfboard art.  Next thing you know we are walking into the Project X gallery and there they are.  Old broken pieces of surfboards turned into the most beautiful and creative Surf Shrines and Requiems I have ever seen.

Requiem for a Left Pointbreak © C.Martino 2011. All rights reserved

Of course, I had to meet the artist and find out his story.

The Artist is C.Martino.  He’s an avid surfer, a great artist and was very cool about answering a few of my questions.


Tell me about the first pieces of surf art.  What was the inspiration?

The first surf shrine, Blue Madonna, came about as a result of my breaking a magical 6’6″ custom thruster. This was back in one of those El Nino years in the nineties (I think 1998) when the swells were cranking all winter. I was out at Turtles in Cardiff and it was big; ten to twelve foot faces. I got some great rides, swung around for a set wave, dropped in and gunned it for 50 yards and then got destroyed by the lip as the wave closed out. I popped up and my board was snapped in half. I almost started crying. It was my favorite board EVER.

When I finally managed to flounder my way into the beach, I couldn’t bear to just throw the board away. After all we’d been through together, it deserved more than an unceremonious toss in the Cardiff State Beach trash can. I brought it home not knowing what to do with it, but unable to just throw it away. I knew if I got it repaired it would never be the same.  As a long-lapsed Catholic I have always admired the art of the church, and one day while painting in my studio (garage) I looked at my broken board halves and realized they had a shape similar to shrines. A light went off, and a few weeks later “Blue Madonna” was on the wall and my ongoing “Surf Sacrifice” series of surf shrines, tiki totems and broken board requiems had begun.

Blue Madonna © C.Martino 2011. All rights reserved

Any other boards in particular that gave some magical rides and then got reincarnated as soulful art?

That first board described above that became the “Blue Madonna” was the big one and the catalyst for this ongoing project. It was a truly magical board. I’ve never had a board that good again. But there have been several favorites over the years that live on as art:

• A great mini-gun that became “Surf Sacrifice”

Surf Sacrifice © C.Martino 2011. All rights reserved

• “Big Game” was a killer 6’2″ summer board who’s back end became one of my favorite pieces.

Big Game © C.Martino 2011. All rights reserved

• “Flow” was a board I got at a garage sale as a lark that ended up being my go-to for two years until an untimely end at Rivermouth on a small but cracking day.

Flow © C.Martino 2011. All rights reserved

A couple years in, the broken and/or retired boards of friends started showing up at my doorstep, and the scope was expanded from just my personal boards to those of others.

How and when did you get into surfing?

I started surfing when my family moved to California when I was 12. We moved to Rancho Penasquitos, 10 miles inland, so the beach was a bit far, especially pre-HWY 56. The first couple of years I boogie-boarded with my older brother, then switched to surfing. He was attending UCSD, so we would go to Scripps mostly.

Once I hit 16 it was on. Some of my favorite memories of my high school era were of me and my friends rock-scissor-papering for who was going to drive out to the beach on the old dirt road between PQ and Del Mar. We’d all scrounge gas money and hit it as often as we could. We’d surf all summer, and started ditching school junior and senior year when the surf was good. We surfed mostly 11th street Del Mar, and the Cardiff campgrounds.

Where do you like to surf these days?

I typically surf North County. Del Mar to Leucadia. My favorite spots would be Del Mar beach breaks and  Rivermouth, Rockpile in Solana Beach when its big, D Street in Encinitas and the occasional run up to Grandview depending on the swell. I work and live in Solana Beach, so I keep an eye on Pillbox (Fletcher Cove), as every now and again it turns on.

I also surf Northern Baja quite a bit. My brother has a beach house at Baja Malibu. And I try and get to mainland Mexico 2-3 times a year for some warm water adventures.

Any favorite spots to surf around the globe?

Namotu Island in Fiji. I caught it last year just before they opened the reef rights, so we had the island breaks to ourselves and it was cranking.

Kauai, Hawaii.  My favorite island for the mellow vibe. I like the north side of the island at Hanalei, and have gotten some great sessions at Hanalei Bay, Tunnels and the breaks along there.

Mainland Mexico. All over the place.

Virgin de la Fonda © C.Martino 2011. All rights reserved

What’s in the future for the surf shrines?

My surf shrines are an ongoing project and my hope is to create customized shrines/board art for people using their favorite and/or chosen boards so they have a deep and meaningful connection to the art, just as I have with the ones created so far because they are (mostly) my old boards.

Thank you for letting us into the Surfer/Artist life of C.Martino.  And a huge thanks for turning broken boards into amazing soulful pieces of art.
Want to know more about C.Martino? (Or you want to turn that broken “magic stick” into an amazing Surf Shrine)  Check out the following contact information:


320 South Cedros Avenue, Suite 500

Solana Beach, CA 92075

[858] 792-9685

C.Martino will have seven new  surf shrines at a show opening at the gallery on Saturday, March 26th, 2011 from 6-10pm called “Ocean Size” with Long Beach artist John Culqui – public welcome.

Dave Christensen

Dave Christensen is a surfer/musician/artist based out of Laguna Beach, California.

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