Second Annual Surfrider Foundation Art Gala

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Second Annual Surfrider Art Gala
Saturday, April 27th, 2002
San Diego Design Center

By Doug Grimm

San Diego's Surfrider Foundation Chapter, (Surfrider SD) held their Second Annual Art Gala and Silent Auction on Saturday April 27th at the San Diego Design Center. This year's event carried the feel of an unofficial kick off to the summer surfing season. The wide variety of individuals attending the evening's festivities represented the vast range of San Diego surfers the organization works to protect.

Local musicians Bedhead Blonde entertained the crowd as attendees perused the Design Center to view the surf oriented artwork available for bid. Over 50 artists donated a wide diversity of pieces ranging from a children's book titled "Tropicat" donated by Brett Keast, to a print of Skip Frye nose riding one of his classic surfboards photographed by San Diego artist Bob Emerson.

The artists contributing their work to the gala carry a strong connection and commitment to ocean and Surfrider Foundation. "Surfing definitely inspires the art." Smiled local artist and surfer Christina Wedell. "To be able to contribute to this important cause is an honor for any artist."

Surfrider SD Executive Director, Marco Gonzales opened the night's presentation and awards ceremony declaring, "Surfrider is going to be committed to those things that promote the pursuit of a surfing lifestyle." which attracted huge support from the crowd of over 250 surf enthusiasts. Gonzales then recognized important Surfrider SD partners in attendance, including City Councilwoman Donna Frye, the San Diego Audubon Society, the Environmental Health Coalition and the San Diego Bay Keeper Association.

The first award of the ceremony was presented to the Stone Brewing Company for their work with Surfrider SD over the past four years. Stone also donated several kegs of their tasty beverages for the event.
Emil Siglar was a popular choice to receive the next award, "Waterman of the Year." Siglar is credited with being the first regular surfer on San Diego beaches, and introducing the surfing lifestyle in the communities of Mission Beach and Pacific Beach.

Jesse Billauer's reception of the "Surfrider Foundation Commitment Award" provided the evening's most inspiring moments. His successful amateur surfing career was cut short when he suffered a spinal cord injury that left him a paraplegic. Unwilling to be beached by his injuries Billauer established the "Life Rolls On" foundation to promote ongoing efforts to develop effective treatments for paralysis. With a recent photograph of Billauer riding a special surfboard in San Diego waves being projected in the background, Gonzales presented him with the Commitment Award and a check for $500 dollars to support Life Rolls On. Billauer then recited a poem he had written to friends, including local professional surfer Rob Machado, who have helped enable him to enjoy waves again despite his injuries. Graduating with a marketing degree from San Diego State University, Billauer looks forward to continuing to create a positive environment for others with spinal cord injuries.

As the evening drew to a close, renowned surf photographer Rob Gilley narrated a slide presentation of his photographs. With a majority of the slides featuring San Diego surfers and surf locations, the crowd grew lively, hooting and clapping at the recognizable images throughout the presentation.

The second Annual Art Gala was a classic surf evening. With most of the big surfing parties limited to professional surfers and industry magnates, the Art Gala provides the "every surfer" the opportunity to further participate in this incredible lifestyle.

"An event like this really makes you feel connected with the surfing community." Noted Pacific Beach resident Frank Danielson who attended the event because of concerns about storm water run off at Tourmaline Surf Park. "It's amazing how many aspects of the community Surfrider Foundation seems to touch."

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