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The Inertia

Is the photographer’s eye instinctively drawn to a compelling moment, capturing it at its ephemeral peak, or is that same photographer’s eye instantaneously curating an image, cataloging it in terms of significance, both contemporary or otherwise?

Examining the work of photographer Jimmy Metyko, the answer appears to be both, especially when considering that the images featured in this exhibition were taken some 40 years apart. How else could one explain how a Texas surfer and fledgling lensman who, after moving to Santa Barbara in 1980 to attend the prestigious Brooks Institute of Photography, and there positioning himself to extensively chronicle not only the whole historically influential Al Merrick/Tommy Curren/Channel Islands genesis, could take a few decades off to successfully pursue other endeavors, only to step back into today’s surf scene and pick up right where he left off? With an eye undimmed by years turned away from the waves, yet still capable of capturing remarkably similar images, both dynamic and sublime, with deliberate re-creation impossible?

The assemblage above testifies to the idea that a true photographer — the artist with an f-stop, and not merely a digital, point-and-shoot content provider — obviously perceives something continuous despite changing circumstances, characters or aesthetic mores; compelling, ephemeral moments that, seen through his eye, become timeless.

Separated by Decades, Remarkable Jimmy Metyko Images Tell Story of Both History and Progression

Jimmy now, and then. Photos courtesy Jimmy Metyko

Editor’s Note: All gallery captions by Jimmy Metyko. Jimmy is currently working on a volume of images and stories chronicling the Santa Barbara surf scene of the early eighties, to be published by Rizzoli Books in August, 2023.

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