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Big Island Artist Unveils Sculpture Honoring Body Glove Founders

Big Island artist Chris Barela is unveiled his life-size statue here Thursday of the two brothers who greatly influenced the sports of surfing and diving. A bronze statue of Body Glove founders Bob and Bill Meistrell—who also invented the modern-day wetsuit—will grace the entrance to King Harbor Yacht Club at Redondo Beach’s scenic Seaside Lagoon.

Chris Barela puts the finishing touches on the life-size statue in Ventura CA

Chris Barela puts the finishing touches on the life-size statue in Ventura CA

See a mini-version of the statue on display at Barela Gallery at The Shops at Mauna Lani. For over a year, Barela sculpted the Body Glove marquette inside the Kohala Coast gallery for visiting guests to watch his techniques. After appearing at the 2014 Mavericks surf contest, the completed, 32-inch piece is back at the gallery and exhibited with photos detailing the sculpting process of the larger bronze.

To do the life-size statue, Barela built an additional studio at his Puako home where the armature, sculpt and mould were completed. The mould was packed and shipped in three different crates to Barela’s foundry in Ventura, California, where a team of skilled craftsmen used the lost wax process to complete the bronze memorial statue.

“It was like working in paradise, except for the heat and mosquitoes,” says Barela about his home studio. “It is an honor to have been chosen for this Body Glove project as the late Bob and Bill Meistrell were an inspiration to many.”

A former professional surfer who appeared on the cover of Surfing Magazine, Barela retired from the sport in the late 1980s and turned his love for the ocean into a career in sculpture, painting, photography and filmmaking.

Chris Barela with marquette of Body Glove statue in Barela Gallery

Chris Barela with marquette of Body Glove statue in Barela Gallery

“My passion is to bring awareness to the beauty of life within our oceans,” shares Barela, who is most recognized for his bronze sculpture of octopus. The Golden State native boasts public installations from the Oregon Coast to Key West, Florida, including those of Zane Grey, Hollywood Western writer; baseball great Ted Williams and the Tim Kelly statue standing sentinel at Hermosa Beach Pier. Barela was awarded first place at the 2011 Hawaii Ocean Film Festival for his short film on octopus.

For information, contact Barela Gallery at 808-885-5111 or visit www.barelagallery.com.

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