Catch a Wave at the Dallas Museum of Art With Free Screening, History of Lone Star Surfers

surfcorpus_picnik.jpg
Courtesy of Margaret White Ellison
Former Corpus Christi resident Tony Mierzwa, foreground, and an unidentified surfer ride a wave at Horace Caldwell Pier in Port Aransas on a mid-1960s day.
Landlocked we are, but at 7 tonight at the Dallas Museum of Art, there'll be a whole lotta surfin' going on. Continuing the summer-long series of free Thursday screenings of movies set on beaches, DMA and the Dallas Film Society present director Dana Brown's 2003 totally tubular surfing documentary Step into Liquid.

But before the film, Texas surfer-author Dan Parker and his wife, photographer Michelle Christenson, will present a short version of the long history of surfing on Texas beaches. They are curators of the Texas Surf Museum in Corpus Christi and collaborated on the book Surfing Corpus Christi and Port Aransas, published in May. The book details the rich and previously unrecognized culture of wave riders in the Texas Coastal Bend and traces the sport's origins in the state through interviews and more than 200 photographs.

"We want our book to promote a better understanding of Texas surfing, something that's not well understood by the surfing world at large, much less the media and general public," Parker says. And, fact is quite a few surfers live in the Dallas area, says Parker, including former national surfing champ Grace Knowles Clark, who's in Garland.

Also under-reported, he says, are the current clean and clear conditions of South Texas beaches post-BP oil spill. "We haven't seen evidence of the spill in Port Aransas, and it hasn't affected surfing," says Parker. "We're mostly dealing with seaweed this summer."

Parker grew up surfing the waves on the beaches at Port Aransas, the little island resort town 30 miles (and one free ferry ride) east of Corpus Christi. After working for many years as a reporter at the Corpus Christi Caller-Times, Parker took a year and half off to surf as much of the eastern and western coastlines of the United States as he could, driving from beach to beach with boards strapped to the roof of his sunbaked Plymouth Laser. He's also surfed Hawaii, Mexico and Costa Rica.

Get Parker talking about surfing, and he can wax poetic. "Surfers know a world that's unknown by anyone else," he says. "On one day it's a tranquilizing glide on a mellow wave. On another day it's a life-threatening bull ride on a deadly wall of water. It's a sport so addictive that thousands of Texans have built their lives around it."

Following the film at the DMA, Parker and Christenson will sign copies of their book.

Museum admission is free Thursday night, courtesy of Ovation TV, so take a stroll through the beach-themed exhibit called "Coastlines: Images of Land and Sea," featuring more than 50 paintings, photographs and works on paper by artists including Childe Hassam, Edward Hopper, Catherine Opie and Willem de Kooning. The exhibit continues through August 22.

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