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Would you surf a Wyland painted surfboard or hang it on the wall?


Wyland paints a Hobie surfboard at the Wyland Galleries in Laguna Beach on Thursday, February 11, 2021 as part of the National Mayor’s Challenge for Water Conservation. Proceeds from the two surfboards Wyland painted will go to the USA Surf team. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register/SCNG)

Marine life artist Wyland has painted on many different surfaces:  canvases hanging in countless homes, buildings splashed with massive murals, even a few boats and shoes.

But one canvas the Laguna Beach artist rarely paints on? Surfboards. Until now, that is.

Wyland on Thursday live painted his latest creation on a Hobie surfboard, a splashy way to kick off the Wyland Foundation National Mayor’s Challenge for Water Conservation, which this year is partnering with the USA Olympic surf team and focusing on the recreational role water plays in people’s everyday lives.


The nonprofit Wyland Foundation was formed in 1993 to add an educational and ocean awareness component to his art.

The goal of the challenge is to rally the support of mayors and cities across the county to urge their constituents to consider more their environmental impact. Thousands of decisionmakers participate each year.

“I’ve always tried to use my art for really good causes, to help out where I can,” said Wyland.

It’s the third surfboard Wyland has put his mark on in recent weeks.

He arrived in Laguna Beach a few days ago after spending the winter on the North Shore of Oahu. There, he met up with professional surfers bound for the Tokyo Olympics and painted two Timmy Patterson surfboards to launch a fundraiser to support Team USA.

Wyland is no stranger to the Olympics. In 2008, as the official artist for the US Olympic team, he painted a mural  at the Beijing Games.


Hobie co-owner Jake Schwaner, left, and Kris Carlow of Hobie marketing are shown with Wyland after he painted a Hobie surfboard at the Wyland Galleries in Laguna Beach on Thursday, February 11, 2021 as part of the National Mayor’s Challenge for Water Conservation. Proceeds from the two surfboards Wyland painted will go to the USA Surf team. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register/SCNG)

“Once you’re it, you’re it, as long as you want to be,” he said of being an official US Olympic team artist. “Once you’re an Olympian, you’re an Olympian for life. The same thing for an Olympic artist.”

The mile-long “Great Green Wall of China” mural was one of his Wyland Wall series, a project he started some three decades ago to do massive murals sharing an environmental conservation message. Several of his ocean scenes can be seen on walls in Southern California – there are more than 100 around the world.

During those games, he also did a series of pieces that raised an estimated $100,000 for the US Olympic teams, he said.

The surfboards are just the start of what he’ll be creating to help the current US Olympic teams with fundraising. Unlike many other countries, the US Olympic team doesn’t receive much government assistance.

The postponement of the 2020 games because of the coronavirus pandemic gave Wyland a little more time to work on fundraising projects.

The Team USA surfboards feature an octopus on one and dolphins on second, both painted in a traditional Japanese style using ink that Wyland  said he learned 30 years ago while visiting the country.

The boards will be part of an upcoming online auction, said Andrea Swayne, chief operating officer for USA Surfing.

She also said the Wyland Foundation will be the team’s official environmental and clean ocean partner.

“Surfers live their life in the ocean, it’s a really good fit, it makes a lot of sense and we are very aligned with the mission of the Wyland Foundation to protect our oceans and beaches,” Swayne said. “We are mutually committed to a future of clean and healthy oceans (not just) for surfers to enjoy, but for everybody to enjoy.”

Wyland said he is proud to see one of his other passions, surfing, making its historic debut as an Olympic sport.

“It’s just time. These are some of the greatest athletes on the planet,” he said. “To be able to showcase that talent, it’s going to be amazing.”

Wyland met up in Hawaii with four-time world champion Carissa Moore and two-time world champ John John Florence, who recently won the Billabong Pipe Masters.

The other two members of Team USA are San Clemente’s Kolohe Andino and Florida’s Caroline Marks, who also calls San Clemente home.

Greg Cruse, CEO of USA Surfing, said the team relies mostly on fundraising and sponsorships, so Wyland’s efforts are appreciated.

“Everything we get is precious,”  Cruse said. “We’re honored to have Wyland, an artist of his stature, agree to work with us and do these boards for us. They are turning out amazing. We’re super stoked and grateful.”

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