Brandon Boyd Makes Waves in O.C.

Courtesy of Michael Chin

“How many people are out there?” A tough-looking blonde woman in an all black suit had been busy all night giving hard stares at passers-by and brusquely directing people away from the stairs that lead up to the VIP room of the Hurley Space in Costa Mesa, only breaking her stance for a select few. The appearance of the security guard relaxed her shoulders; he made the blonde look small in comparison to his similarly suited self.

“One hundred and seventy-seven,” he said, without hesitation.

And his count was just of the people outside. At about 8 p.m., two hours after the start of Brandon Boyd’s open-to-the-public party in celebration of his collaboration with Hurley, the line of people waiting to get into Hurley’s cramped art space was still growing.

Boyd’s collaboration with Hurley was not only to create a large mural in the Space, which covered all four walls of a gallery room dedicated to it, but Boyd also designed a line of limited edition t-shirts and metal water canteens. The proceeds for those sold go directly to the HOPE Campaign. HOPE, or Helping Other People Everywhere, is an organization that helps artists and people in the creative community at large to organize events benefitting their various social causes.

When not painting and designing tees, Boyd is best known for being the frontman for the band Incubus, who made a mysterious announcement last week foreshadowing their sixth studio album. The album is confirmed to be titled “If Not Now, When?” and will be released July 12, but more information is soon to be unveiled.

Though Boyd might be better recognized as singer and occasional guitarist/percussionist for his band, his collaboration with Hurley is no surprise. He has been present in the art community for quite some time, even going so far as to co-animate the beautifully drawn music video for the song “Drive” with bandmate José Pasillas II. Since then he has published two books, both of which heavily feature his artwork.

Along with his bandmates, Boyd has also been active in charity. In 2003, Incubus founded the Make Yourself Foundation, a non-profit organization that since its inception has raised over $1.45 million for various environmental causes and charities.

So when Boyd had the opportunity to work with Hurley and HOPE, he jumped at the chance and went to work making a series of drawings for the collaboration.

The line of tees, aptly named “Sea-thos,” features two designs. One is of a whale spouting plastic bottles out of its blowhole, and the other is of a mass of bottles descending into a whirlpool in an effervescent neon sea. According to Boyd, this second design is “actually a quite literal take on the problem we’re addressing with this campaign, which is these non-biodegradables swirling around in the world’s oceans and creating islands of plastic that will eventually come back to us — to haunt us, so to speak.”

The mural, which Boyd admits is his first (“Hopefully not my last!”), occupies the wall space of the main gallery room of the Space. It features a massive blue whale, swirling lines and splotches of blues and greens entangled with water plastic bottles and a poem of Boyd’s creation that says “We are a beautiful island / But we are misguided and off course.” Lines of the poem run across the walls of the mural, ending with a call to “Leave the island better than you found it.”

Though Boyd’s message and artwork were stellar, it unfortunately seems that featuring his art on every possible surface of Hurley’s space could not prevent it from taking the backseat to the possibility of meeting Boyd himself. As people waited in line for over an hour to cram themselves into the Lilliputian space, talk was not focused on Boyd’s art but on his presence in the building; the band’s announcement of their upcoming album likely added to the buzz. Pasillas was seen hanging around the gallery before heading into the VIP section; whether or not the rest of the band members were up in that area was not apparent.

Buzz intensified once Boyd’s appearance was confirmed by people coming out of the Space. Attendees who went into the mural room appreciated it well enough, but the event had an air of waiting — as if the main attraction were not the cause or the art, but more that the entire event was merely a chance to have one’s picture taken with Brandon Boyd. It indeed seemed that though there were people looking at the art itself, many more were focused on trying to discern the man of the night’s face in the sizable crowd.

Despite people’s yearning for that coveted picture with Boyd (he did come out eventually, to many a shrill scream and frenzied applause), opportunities to more fully appreciate his art are available. The mural and gallery will be up in the Hurley Space in Costa Mesa until April 15; t-shirts from the collaboration are available through Hurley’s Web site.