The newest photo exhibit from skateboarding master lensman Grant Brittain opens Saturday at the Culture Brewing Co. in Solana Beach, Calif. The all-ages show will cover nearly a decade of Brittain's images from the legendary Del Mar Skate Ranch skatepark, beloved by generations of skateboarders during the nine years between its opening and eventual destruction.
Brittain -- who helped launch Transworld Skateboarding in 1983 and The Skateboard Mag in 2004 -- took a job managing Del Mar the day after it opened in August 1978. He started shooting photos of locals and visiting skaters in 1979 with a Canon AE-1 loaded with Kodachrome 64 film.
"Grant might have been there to work a little, but he didn't fool anyone: He was there to skate," remembers Owen Nieder, one of Del Mar's original fixtures and a regular subject for the aspiring photographer. "After he got into photography, he either had a skateboard or a camera in his hand at all times."
Del Mar was one of the few privately run skateparks to survive the financial dark ages the skateboarding went through in the early 1980s. As a new generation of talent -- led, in part, by Del Mar local Tony Hawk -- buoyed the sport's popularity, the park's world-famous keyhole pool hosted groundbreaking sessions and contests.
According to Hawk, "Nobody documented the evolutionary era of Del Mar Skate Ranch like Grant."
The keyhole's legacy inspired Culture Brewing Co. co-founder and brewer Steve Ragan to create a special India pale ale in honor of Brittain and the Del Mar photo exhibit. The Keyhole IPA will be ready to pour by Saturday's opening reception.
The show is scheduled to run for about a month.