A Gnarly Advisor

Gary Kessler Provides Insight to MOCA

Gary Kessler

Tell Gary Kessler that he is a surfing historian and he’ll humbly deny such an accolade. For this man whose passion is also his profession, the title of historian belongs to those who have come before him.

Yet speak with Kessler, who oversees Quicksilver in South Florida and is a member of the Surfrider Foundation – a non-profit environmental organization dedicated to the protection and enjoyment of the world’s oceans, waves and beaches for all people, through conservation, activism, research and education – as well as a founding member of the Miami Surf Archive Project, and it quickly becomes apparent that his love and dedication for surfing has manifested itself into a leadership role in South Florida’s tight-knit surfing community.

It’s no wonder that the Surfrider Foundation recommended Kessler to the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) as an advisor to their upcoming MOCA Bash: Surf’s Up gala.

“I’ve been brought on to make the experience as genuine as possible,” he said. “We’ll have a deco-pop up surf shop and we’re supplying surf boards and other elements to authenticate the experience.”

Kessler notes that art and surfing go together and equates some of the craftsmanship of the “shapers” who mold the original “blanks” that become surfboards (mass produced in some cases) to artistry. His favorite surfing movies include, Single Fin Yellow, the original Endless Summer, and Jack Johnson movies including Broke Down Melody.

Of course, surfing in Miami does not have the same cache as surfing in California, Hawaii or Australia, but Kessler believes that Miami’s surfing community can rival any. “People from Miami are the most surf stoked,” he said, “as well as some of the most surf starved. There are lots of people who have come from Miami Beach and Miami who are very active in the surf scene.”

He credits the origination of Miami’s surfing community to two Miami natives who are better known for shopping and luxury brands.

“Surfing in Miami got its start when legendary surfer Tom Blake met the Whitman brothers of Bal Harbour Shops fame. Those guys are pioneers in surfing.”

Come meet Gary Kessler and pick his brain about surfing at the MOCA Bash: Surf’s Up gala. It’s sure to be a gnarly event, and you may acquire a new hobby in the process.

PHOTO by Meg Pukel

See some Beach Chic wardrobe choices modeled by three MOCA committee members.

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