Art to Surf On

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By Douglas Feiden

The photographic images portray a boundless, turquoise sea upon which surfers ride the crest of great waves, navigating amidD discuit_vertical_tres_palmas_12x4@300_RGBwhitecaps, their choreographed motions suffused with poetry and grace. To gaze upon the pictures — seamless, soulful, panoramic, seeming to move like the ocean itself — is to intuit that only a fellow surfer could have captured them.

Blair Seagram is not now and has never been a surfer. But the Canadian-born, Sag Harbor-based artist who grew up on the water — Lake Huron to be precise, a Great Lake, which is very different from a great ocean – has been shooting surfers on the board-breaking swells that power into the coves, reefs, break point and headlands of Montauk since 2008.

“You don’t have to be a racecar driver to take pictures of racecars,” she says. What you do need is passion for your calling. She’s got that in abundance: “On one side of my little library are art books and works by Shakespeare, on the other are books on surfing, photos of surfing, love of surfing, the Encyclopedia of Surfing…” The list goes on.

Captivating art springs from this embrace. Ms. Seagram uses a panoramic method of photography that lets her portray action, movement and sequential time. Taking multiple photos of surfers as they catch and ride waves, she blends them digitally into a vast, broad, cinematic canvas.

Out of this time-lapse technique comes a surfboard-shaped panorama — a still roughly 24 inches by 80 inches — that captures a surfer’s seaward sojourn in meccas like Ditch Plains and Camp Hero.

Now, she’s taken the next logical step, creating the “Blair Trailer Park Surfboard,” an actual 20-inch by 71-inch board, named for an area of Ditch Plains, that will be exhibited at the Tulla Booth Gallery’s “Water Show,” opening June 18 at 66 Main Street in Sag Harbor.

Three of Ms. Seagram’s surfing panoramas will also be on display at “Surf’s Up,” a group show at the Quogue Library, running from June 2 to June 28.

“When my lens turned toward surfers I was inspired by their keen sense of timing when catching a wave, then riding across it,” she says.

 

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