Greg Noll portrayed by Ken Auster
One of the Masters of Modern Art portrays one of the Fathers of Modern Surfing in a series of action surfing paintings.
Greg Noll aka "Da Bull" in reference to his "charging" the down the face of a wave with apparent fearlessness, is a pioneer of big wave surfing.
Born at San Diego, California, Noll became famous for his exploits in large Hawaiian surf on the North Shore of Oahu. He first gained a reputation in November of 1957 after surfing Waimea Bay in 25-30 ft surf when it had previously been thought impossible even to the local Hawaiians. He is perhaps best known for being the first surfer to ride a wave breaking on the outside reef at the so-called Banzai Pipeline in November of 1964.
"To establish our lineups," Greg Noll wrote, "we worked off Kaena Point and back up on the hill behind Pupukea, taking three or four azimuths, until we finally got our lineups in late afternoon, just as this one particular wave came through. It was the only wave I caught that whole day, and it's permanently etched in my memory. In a twenty-five-foot wave at Waimea, the shoulder drops off. The wave I caught at Outside Pipeline that day walled up twenty-five-feet high about half a mile in front of me. It broke to the left, so I was riding with my back to the wave, goofyfoot, and it was a god-awful uneasy feeling. Instead of getting smaller as I rode it, the s.o.b. grew on me. It got bigger and bigger, and I started going faster and faster, until I was absolutely locked into it. I felt like I was on a spaceship racing into a void. At first, I could hear my board chattering across the face of the wave in a constant rhythm. As my speed increased, the chattering noise became less frequent. Suddenly there was no noise. For about fifteen or twenty feet, I was airborne. Then I literally was blown off my board."
It was later at Makaha, in December 1969, that he rode what many at the time believed to be the largest wave ever surfed. After that wave and the ensuing wipeout during the course of that spectacular ride down the face of a massive dark wall of water, his surfing tapered off and he closed his Hermosa Beach shop in the early 1970's. He and other surfers such as Pat Curren, Mike Stang, Buzzy Trent, George Downing, Mickey Munoz, Wally Froyseth, Fred Van Dyke and Peter Cole are viewed as the most daring surfers of their generation.
Noll is readily identified in film footage while surfing by his now iconic black and white horizontally striped "jailhouse" board shorts. He is also one of the greatest longboard shapers to ever live and his boards are some of the most sought after and expensive in the world.
Today Noll lives in Hiouchi, California with his wife, Laura, where he shapes re-creations of some of the historic boards from the sport of surfing. Some of these are: Olos and Alaias, a replica of a Duke Kahanamoku board, Malibu Chips, Guns, Da Cats, Pacific System Homes and others.
Ken Auster was up to his neck in saltwater. Having started surfing in the early sixties, he immediately fell in love with the lifestyle, romance, and culture of the sport. Blending his love of surfing with art, Ken created these images depicting Greg Noll. Some have become classics.
The transition from surf art to serious impressionism was natural for Ken - his passion and obsession to reach a new understanding between himself and the oil painting medium took on a new intensity of discovery. "I simply want to achieve the ultimate communication on the canvas - to say more with less," Ken says.
In a relatively short time since this transition to plein air painting, Ken Auster has moved to the forefront of American contemporary impressionists. He consistently walks away with gold medals and first place awards at juried exhibits. His work is collected by some of the most respected corporations and patrons.