I don't think there are many institutions like the Huntington Beach Art Center that are getting support [or] even able to survive at this point. Major museums are closing because they can't find funding, and they can't find the market, and they can't figure out how to work. Yet we got a proposition with renegade art forms being presented in the middle of this explosion of athletics and art on the beach in Huntington and have a million people show up.

Why do you think Kustom Kulture is seemingly more popular than ever?

I think people want to communicate, and I think it's individual expression—I think people want personalized transportation forms that are somehow special or somehow different. Some [of those] involved become connoisseurs. Other people go to a dealership and order factory options—which, to a certain extent, are manifestations of, I guess, your dreams and aspirations and your comfort level and maybe wanting to be seen differently. You'd be . . . you know, the one guy who gets the purple interior in a Prius instead of the blue one.

From left: Paul Frank, C.R. Stecyk III and Greg Escalante
John Gilhooley
From left: Paul Frank, C.R. Stecyk III and Greg Escalante
Escalante with a refurbished Rat Fink oil barrel
John Gilhooley
Escalante with a refurbished Rat Fink oil barrel

Location Info


Huntington Beach Art Center

538 Main St.
Huntington Beach, CA 92648

Category: Art Galleries

Region: Huntington Beach



‚ÄĘ VIDEO: Greg Escalante, C.R. Stecyk and Paul Frank Discuss 'Kustom Kulture II' Art Show

‚ÄĘ SLIDESHOW: 'Kustom Kulture II' is the Return of Rods, Rags & Rat Finks

"Kustom Kulture II" at the Huntington Beach Art Center, 538 Main St., Huntington Beach, (714) 374-1650; www.huntingtonbeachartcenter.org. Open Tues.-Thurs., noon-8 p.m.; Fri., noon-6 p.m.; Sat., noon-5 p.m. Opening reception Sat., 7-9 p.m. Through Aug. 31. Free.

Why does Rick Rawlins have a 13-bay garage inside an industrial building? That's a personal vision. He sees the logic in it and has to pursue that. Someone has to save these things; someone has to study this knowledge.

The OC automotive scene was always really vital—Boyd Coddington had a big impact on stuff. He worked at Disneyland and was an engineer, probably [most] famously on the People Mover. He was a pre-eminent custom-car builder. We used to have Orange County International Raceway; we used to have races down here. We used to have a lot of stuff going. . . .

How do you think "Kustom Kulture II" will differ from the first show?

Originally, we thought about including surfing because, logically, it had a lot to do with it: It developed in the same period; it used a lot of the same materials. Ed Roth's cars in particular were using surfing materials . . . and Ed was bringing aerospace materials, aircraft-building materials into automotive building, and he was aware of them through surfboard builders who were bringing the same materials—balsa and fiberglass, which came out of aircraft plants that were operating in the mid-'40s for the war.

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The show is really quite nice, and is much more surfed out than the original show. The opening was a scene and a half, with so many people in attendance it was hard to move. The overall effect of the show was celebratory, more so than intellectual. The Munster Mobile by Barris was magnificent. All in all, this is a most enjoyable exhibit, and the curators and the Huntington Beach Art Center deserve credit for the huge effort it took to get this show together on short notice. And the Western Exterminator show was in 1985, not '87....... SHOW RUNS TILL AUGUST 31st, and put in some money in the tip jar the museum has out for donations~~~ so quality exhibits can continue there. 


To be fair and accurate, and not to take away from the well-deserved accolades in this article, the "KUSTOM KULTURE" exhibit was a knock-off of the "Western Exterminators" show at the ZERO ONE GALLERY in 1987. That was the first exhibit to create the Hot Rod Triad of VON DUTCH, BIG DADDY ROTH and ROBERT WILLIAMS in a gallery setting. And the term Kustom Kulture was not made by the Laguna Art Museum. They originally titled it Custom Culture, and it was suggested by "The Pizz" to use the "K" in Von Dutch's language, where he Germanized things. Von Dutch put up a sign when he worked at Barris' shop in the mid-fifties, KUSTOM Colors....... History should be accurate, and credit given when credit is due.......  


This is a major cultural event.  You've got to hand it Laguna Art Museum and Escalante for creating awareness around this timely art movement.  And everyone quoted in the article is so well-educated and articulate.  Except for Paul Frank.  He comes off as a moron who can't even form a complete sentence or finish a thought without "trailing off" then delving into blatant self-promotion.  But kudos to Escalante and Stecyk for carrying the torch of this awesome movement and for letting Frank tag along with the big boys.  Escalante and Stecyk are intellectual giants who really know their history.  Which is obviously why Chang focused on what THEY had to say.  They were very interesting, well versed and they came across as authentic art lovers.  I hope they will educate us further with a speaking engagement at HBAC.

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