In the austere front room of Flood Magazine a bright display of surfboards represented a collaboration between photographer Rob Machado and artist Sage Vaughn aimed at reducing the use of plastic water bottles in schools.
On the opposite wall, prints of photographs taken on Machado’s travels were painted with Vaughn’s trademark butterflies. The art show, called Convergence, was only one of the many programs offered by the Rob Machado Foundation and highlighted both artists’ love for surfing and the water.
“We’ve done everything from recycling to grow-your-own-lunch programs, gardening programs,” Machado said. “Our focus is on putting water back into schools, free water. You go to high schools and kids have to buy water out of vending machines now, in a plastic bottle. That’s a double no.”
Almost like another art piece, a water station sat in the corner, for guests to see. On the same wall, across the room, were reusable water bottles and t-shirts, the sales from which would also go to the Foundation.
All of the works focused on light, a theme that originated from their experiences with surfing.
“The concept is mainly about light and about the most dramatic point of light during the day,” Vaughn said. “In surfing, you have to measure the approach of pulses of energy in the water by judging the light on the surface of the water. I think that’s what makes some surfers really good photographers. Like Rob is a really great photographer because he’s so attuned to seeing light.”
Though the surfboards were created as one piece, depicting the spectrum of light during a sunset, they were sold separately. Almost all of them had been sold by the start of the event, according to artist Wolfgang Bloch, who also attended the event.
“[The photos] are from Rob Machado’s travels in Indonesia and a combination of Sage’s paintings on top of them,” Bloch said. “They’re fantastic.”
Machado said that photography was simply a hobby but he was excited to put it to use for the work he was doing with the Foundation.
“I shaped the surfboards and I shot the photographs,” Machado said. “I travel so much. I take cameras and, wherever I go, I take photos. They’re people who were nice enough to let me take their photos.”
After creating the surfboards, they decided on the collaboration.
“All of a sudden we had these ten amazing boards and we thought ‘wow these came out really cool. We should do something with that.’” Machado said. “Then we did some more pieces with the photographs, we started experimenting with different mediums and here we are.”
Vaughn said that the photographs were chosen specifically for their use of light.
“Rob sent me a bunch of photographs and we looked through them. And a lot of the time they’re really good photographs and they don’t need anything,” he said. “So I was just trying to find zones where my art could mix into his photographs and not mess anything up, send a new message.”
Vaughn will also be working with Shaun White on his upcoming Air + Style event in Los Angeles, according to Molly Schultz, who is also working on the project.
“He’s painting one of Sean White’s mini ramps that he’s had forever, his personal one,” she said. “He’s going to paint it at the event and auction it off and all the proceeds will go to LIFT LA.”
Vaughn said that, since meeting Machado two years ago, the Foundation has been an important cause for him.
“I feel like the money is well-spent, it’s really humble and it’s an attainable goal,” he said. “I do a lot of art shows and it’s usually me making money so it’s really great when it’s for something a little bit more important than me. I can be a little bit more enthusiastic about it.”
The event was organized by Justine Chiara, the director of the Foundation and Machado’s manager, who had worked with Flood Magazine previously.
“It was a lot of hard work, putting this together,” she said. “When I was looking at venue spaces for this art event, I got in touch with them. It’s the perfect sort of vibe for what we’re doing.”