Steller
PROFILES

MODERN BEACHCOMBER/JIM OLARTE

 

Jim is  one of the lucky few to live tucked into a Laguna Beach hillside with a expansive ocean view and a short walk across PCH to meet the sand. He’s a long time resident, shop owner, artist, beach troller and personified local in a town that fits him like a glove.

His career has seen a few incarnations. The finely curated vintage clothing shop Locals Only segued into him into the go–to photo shoot and prop stylist, shop consultant for the OC surf industry. Throughout his work he has maintained a direct connection to the ocean, and from that, spawned an art form culled from collecting a hyper-edited selection of beach detritus.  His collections created a need to organize these washed up gems of shell, wood, rock and fiberglass.  It started with stringing the pieces into wall hangings & mobiles, which led to playing with Macramé, often incorporating the stones and shells into the weaving process. No drill is used on organic pieces. He uses the inherent formation of each item, holes and naturally occurring openings to connect them to the rope.  A drill can only used on manmade materials; fiberglass or plastics.   Macramé is his current focus–he’ll knot anything that can be tied…upholstery rope, neon building cord, washed up boat rigging, jute, seagrass and even kelp.
Cut to our conversation–

AQC–You call yourself Modern Beachcomber– its kind of obvious, but please describe your connection to that name.

JO–My friend Steve Jones and I made it up… he’s watched me collect all this stuff, junk on the beach.  I’m at the beach literally everyday– always collecting. He called me a beachcomber… but Modern.

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AQC–Where is all this stuff– where do you store it?

JO–I use it. It’s incorporated into the art that I do– if I don’t use it, I take it back because when I need it again, the ocean will give it to me.  Which is good thing.  So rather than putting all these into a jar, I’m enshrining them and showing each piece is beautiful or throwing them back.  I thank the ocean when I find good pieces. I trust I will find what I need- the stuff is waiting for me to find it.  Like, if I find a big piece of fiber glass wedged between the rocks, it’s been sitting there for years,  I tell myself I was meant to find it –and somehow was led to it.  I think “You guys are waiting there for me to find you and make you into something amazing.”  Which I LOVE!

AQC– Clearly, living next to the Pacific Ocean has profound influence on your work- what do you think it would look like if say- you lived in West Texas?

JO– Dryer Art. Yeah.  I would be a different person– in what I was trying to project.  Maybe I’d be a potter wearing cowboy boots.

AQ– I gotta say, I’ve been waiting for macramé to have its comeback- do you think your work will inspire an Etsy revolution?

JO– Are we off the record?  …I think the [craft] thing is great– so to all that, if you have the patience, please go ahead and do it. Good luck. If you get mad at the string- it’s about YOU. Not paying attention. You are not focusing. It’s not because the string messed up.

It’s a metaphor for life.

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AQC– So that ‘s the art- this is truly unique to you.

JO– I’ve been able to make it into a life thing… maybe I’m atoning for past sins…maybe these are rosaries?  I find pleasure in the silence, the meditation, the repetitiveness. You can read a lot of stuff into this work.

AQC– Who inspires you?

JO– The Ocean. Alexander Calder,  Jeff Koons – for shape and scale. I’d like to work on that kind of scale.

AQC– Describe the most annoying part of being you.

JO– Procrastinating.  I will know I need to start on something… and I go the beach instead.  But I think the last minute thing works in your [my] favor.

AQC– Describe the most magical part of being you.

JO– I think the pleasure that I give myself by allowing myself to go the beach all the time.  I find it to be the most peaceful thing in the whole world… to be out in a tide pool.  I know how to surf, but I would rather just stand and just BE in the water- disappear into it…so you can see things move… the whole world of the tide pool carry on.  It’s so beautiful.

AQC– You’re lucky you give yourself that gift

JO– Yeah, Everyone else is so worried about their phone.

AQC– Love of your life?

JO–The Ocean.  Curiosity

AQC– Favorite wind instrument?

JO– I’m tone deaf.

AQC– Congratulations on your recent front window installation at the Craft and Folk Museum in LA.  This could be the start of something big… are you prepared for Stardom?

JO– Yeah. Sure why not. I’ll thank the academy and my mom

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AQC– Hana or Hanalei?

JO– Hanalei. Because you can jump off that pier.

 

AQC– Converse or Toms?

JO–VANS. I’m strict.

 

AQC–Surf or Skinny dip?

JO–Skinny Dip

 

AQC– Tent or RV?

JO– Tent

 

AQC–AM or PM?

JO– AM

 

AQC– Over-easy or Hardboiled

JO– Hardboiled. No yolk.

 

AQC–Wide angle or Zoom?

JO–Wide angle

 

AQC–Prada or Paul Smith?

JO–Prada

 

Music you knot by… Hawaiian slat key.

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NOTE: Jim has a show of his Fiberglass Hangings coming up at the end of February in downtown LA- stay tuned for details, I will post closer to the event.  Meanwhile, his macramé installation at the Craft and Folk Museum will remain in place through April 2014.

 

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