I like friends. My name is Joshua Ben Paskowitz. I am a surfer and a painter. I am the last son of Doc Dorian Paskowitz, surfer and doctor. My dad loved surfing. He raised us off the grid and in connection with the global surf community instead of schools or anything like that. We said homeschool”, but that was a joke because there was no school nor any home. My room, when I was my sonDorian’ss age (9) was the rear window ledge of a 1976 Chevy Impala, behind the rear passengers’ heads. Like where they stick the baby on board thing? That was my spot. I believe I coined the phrase “hellhole” to describe the arctic chill of the frozen glass at night and the ant-under-a-magnifying-glass heat in the daytime. I taught myself how to read and write, but my father made sure we understood the Aloha style. He made it very clear these values were absolute. He didn’t take any money for being a doctor and he helped a lot of people. I saw him bring people back to life and shit. I never saw him doubt his own commitment, and in retrospect, it was pretty remarkable.
We were a part of a surf family that shared the love of the ocean and the passion born from a total commitment to it. My father believed in the purity of that natural order; he valued that part of life more than anything. I never forget to honor him every day since he passed away. I’m grateful for his example and I try to capture that in my work. I’ve done a lot of different stuff, kind of a catch all of the family. I have been drawing my whole life. Started a band at an early age. I was in “Jesus Chrysler”, and my brother was in “Johnny Monster”. I helped my brother at Black Flys in the ’90s and got to hang out with Sublime, which was cool. I was in the Band “The Flys” when my brother figured out a way to market his band. We ended up living the dream and even opened up for the Rolling Stones, just like Spicoli dreamed. Shit, Sean Penn loved Doc. He wanted to play Doc. He had us over for hours at his pad and told us that surf was a huge deal to him. His prize possession was a green Gerry shaped bolt. Go figure. Anyway…my other brother is the name dropper, not me.
Stones like Spicolli
Now, I’m all about expressing my narratives through art. Acrylics on canvas and fiberglass. It’s a tribute to the surf history my family was a part of; those great characters and the culture that shaped the course of my life.
I spent my early years devoted to drawing with pen and ink and obsessed with comics, anime and heavy metal magazine. Later on, I picked up a brush and really committed to painting and the development of a style that I hope still has a remnant of the great stuff that inspired me as a kid. I really had to find my own way and it forced me to have my own voice. A lot like my dad—he could have been a regular doctor, but there wouldn’t be a Paskowitz family as we know it if he had. Because Doc raised me outside of convention, I don’t have the same desire to buck the system. I’m more interested in building community than running off to my own utopia. I’m more interested in developing some of the concepts that he pioneered.
From surfing to vanlife to mindfulness to healthcare and even family values, Doc was not a perfect person. He was, however, a tremendous outlier and a brilliant soul. I was his prototype and he meant a lot to me. When I lost my dad, I went into a deep depression. I felt like I was struggling to find my purpose. Luckily, my friends helped me get through it. Especially my friend Greg.
Yes, My Friends
Art and surf is an amazing intersection of culture and no one knew it better than my friend Greg Escalante. Greg was one of the original founders of Juxtapoz Magazine and, along with Robert Williams, one of the progenitors of the lowbrow or pop surreal art movement. It’s really all about commercially viable and entertaining art that emerges from organic niches instead of traditional art world shit. Like surf art/skate art/tattoo/hot rod art underground comix and really any outsider DIY bollocks that has a gang of proponents. Like street art or glass art. Fuckin $250,000 bongs and shit.
Greg famously championed some absolute legends in the game—guys I look up to—so when Greg called me at 5 am every morning to get me out in the water I would say yeah, even if I didn’t want to go. I knew of Greg Escalante by his reputation for quite some time. I met Greg in 2013, but we really started spending a lot of time together in 2014. Greg tirelessly encouraged me.
We became very close through our mutual love of art and surfing. He was able to broaden my conception of what I could do and my potential as an artist. He was always including me and constantly thinking of how he could connect people and magnify inspiration. We lost Greg this past September and I’ll never forget to include him in my prayers every day along with my dad. He said one thing to me I’ll always cherish in my memory: “You’re a Success waiting to Happen!”
Greg was such a incredible support and fostered so many talented artists. His word gave me the strength to believe in myself. The scope of his vision was immense, yet he was sensitive enough to care about all the little details. I am forever grateful to be on his radar. No more waiting, my friend.
Well, thanks for letting me share my little story about my journey through surfing to art. It’s a work in progress. I really appreciate all the other amazing artists that I see elevating the category. The ocean will always be a very primal focus in art and every other aspect of life on earth. It’s a thing like family.
I just loved my family. I adored my mom and dad and all their nutty wonderfulness. Yes, it was hardcore, but it’s very cool that we did come so far and were lucky enough to share our time with some absolutely beautiful friends that became family. I’m grateful I was given the cards I have been given. Art is surf and surf is art. No one can truly describe what it’s like to go to San Clemente Island with Flippy Hoffman or sit with Doc and Pat Curren and talk story by a single candle or to have Miki Dora in the camper with us, but thank God I know and I hope I can get some of that magic in my work.
Keep surfing with Aloha,
Joshua Ben Paskowitz
See more from Joshua on Alohadoc.com and Joshuapaskowitz.com. Follow him on Instagram@Joshuapaskowitz