Local thematic, functional artist and gallerist Bobbi Bennett was celebrated twice in Malibu in October with the launch of a new series of artwork. Coda Studio at the Trancas Country Market is now featuring Bennett’s art, mainly from her Stoked! Surfboard line.
The surfboards covered with Bennett’s photography and artwork have become collectors’ items and are owned by celebrities, including actor Dennis Quaid and Beach Boy Bruce Johnston. The singer/songwriter even commissioned Bennett to re-do an original Rusty surfboard that he auctioned off to benefit the Surfrider Foundation.
Bennett started as a fine arts photographer, but now works in many media. For over 25 years, her work has been exhibited internationally, including in the Louvre. She operated her own gallery in Montecito for years, co-ran the Malibu Contemporary Art Gallery, and until recently her own Stoked! Surfboard shop at the Malibu Lumber Yard.
Coda Studio, specializing in interior design, this summer asked Bennett to show her vintage surfboards that are adorned with neon. She happily did and said that each week during the Friday night concert series at Trancas, at least one board would sell while she was “dancing to a band.”
“It was really fun,” she said.
The artist who now splits her time between Ojai and Malibu has been regularly showing her work at the Trancas store.
“It’s really taken off,” Bennett said. “It’s been great.”
Sales of Bennett’s neon work and a new line of her Stoked! Surfboards that feature high fashion brands have been climbing, so Coda Studio had a reception for her on Oct. 22 that was so popular they did it again on Oct. 29. The two events featured a DJ, catered food and about 150 people enjoying a good time.
“Everybody had a blast,” the artist said.
The Designer Series is a play on Chanel, Prada, Fendi, and other designer boards. The fronts have mostly nudes and each figure is branded with the logo of the designer. On the back is the designer logo with Stoked! Surfboards artwork.
“They’re super, super cool,” Bennett said. “People love them.”
She explained the chief financial officer of Gucci came and photographed the Gucci board.
“She thought it was pretty cool,” Bennett said. “So, that was awesome.”
Because the boards are intended as artwork Bennett asserts that under fair use there is no copyright infringement.
“It’s a one-off. It’s a series of art,” she said.
The boards range in price from $2,500 to $10,500. In her Designer Series she takes existing boards with a “super sexy design from a known shaper like either Yater, Rip Curl or Rockin Fig or a one-of-a-kind.
“Those I deconstruct and add a photograph and then I epoxy resin. They’re two-sided so it’s complicated,” Bennett said. “You can use them. You can ride them, but they are made for your wall.”
She also has a rideable collection of limited-edition hand-shaped real surfboards adorned with her art that are made for the ocean.
“Those have been super popular this year,” Bennett said. “I’ve had people ride them in Hawaii and in Malibu. It’s cool.”
There are five different shaped boards. Some feature palm trees, the 2020 super moon and a hot pink palm tree board.
Tracie Shepard and her husband Chris recently moved to California and love the vibe Bennett’s work adds to their home.
“Her boards are simultaneously fun and stylish,” they said in a text to The Malibu Times. “Bobbi’s unique vision of combining her love of photography and surfing coupled with her ability to curate cool old school boards makes each surfboard a work of art. Bobbi also has a stable of artists she represents and has helped us curate a unique art collection for our home. She’s so much fun to be around!”
In her short time in Malibu, Bennett commented, “I’ve made some really good friendships. I’ve designed people’s homes in Malibu. It’s been great. Donating to the Boys & Girls Club and Rotary is also a great way to be involved. I love that Stoked! gives back. It’s part of my thing.”