Sculpting Surf Gods to Save Beaches


Outside Lands, the annual music, arts and food festival that overtakes San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park for a weekend every August, hosted one attraction this year that gave Academy of Art University Sculpture Chair Lawrence Noble an opportunity to combine the reckless twenty-something surfer of his youth with the deliberate and delicate sculptor of maturity. The result? A sculpted Egyptian relief with surfing gods, of course!

For two days at the event and for several days after, Noble crafted a striking glyph-laiden tablet depicting an Egyptian goddess with surfboard for Surfrider Foundation, an organization dedicated to the protection and enjoyment of oceans, waves and beaches. The sculpture also served to raise awareness for the upcoming Carve San Francisco sand sculpting event, where Noble will be acting as judge.

“Lawrence Noble is not only one of the most versatile artists of our time, but he is also a surfer and someone who celebrates the beauty and majesty of the ocean,” said Kathryn Keown, Founder and Executive Director of Carve. “We are privileged to have Lawrence offer his artistry and guidance at the Carve events.”

Lawrence Noble sculpts the Egyptian surf gods piece at Outside Lands

Lawrence Noble sculpts the Egyptian surf gods piece at Outside Lands

The sculpture, which gives a nod to both surfing and sand, will be showcased at the Carve San Francisco event at Crissy Field on October 16-20, where it’s likely to be sold to benefit Surfrider Foundation.

While Noble’s surfing days are far behind him, he found the experience of sculpting the Surfrider piece highly rewarding.

“The joy of sculpting can always be tempered by the joy of discovery, even if it is a rediscovery of a past experience,” says Noble. “The iconic nature of the ancients has appealed to me for a long time, and this event afforded the opportunity to combine passions in some new visual territory.”

While the relief image of surf goddesses is clearly a vision of fantasy, the hieroglyphics, when translated, are not.

“Carve Your Destiny!” it reads, according to Noble. “And I mean it!”

Learn more about Surfrider Foundation at and Carve San Francisco – in which FASCU students Jihoon Choi and Seok don Choi are participants – at

FASCU Student Sculpts Wicked Witch of Oz for Museum

Witch hands and head sculpted by TonyaMarie with Michael Poland assisting in mold making and hair punching

Wicked Witch of Oz wax sculpture by FASCU student TonyaMarie

Don’t click your heels and wish yourself home just yet.

The Wicked Witch of the West, sculpted by FASCU’s own TonyaMarie and currently on display at the Wax Museum at Fisherman’s Wharf, will only be appearing through this Thursday – after that, she’ll become the stuff of dreams.

“It’s bittersweet,” says TonyaMarie, who has been working for the museum on an internship and just completed the sculpture of the iconic character last week. “The museum has been sold and closes on the 15th, so (the witch) will only be up a few short days.” While nearly the entire assortment of wax sculptures from the 50-year-old venue is being sold to a Los Angeles-based museum, TonyaMarie’s Wicked Witch – as well as the other characters of Oz – will remain in current owner Rodney Fong’s personal collection.

L to R: Costume maker Vincent of Dreamhouse, the Wicked Witch of the West, sculptor TonyaMarie, and Gallery Curator/Director Curtis Huber

L to R: Costume maker Vincent of Dreamhouse, the Wicked Witch of the West, sculptor TonyaMarie, and Gallery Curator/Director Curtis Huber (not pictured: Michael Poland assisted in mold-making and hair-punching)

Finishing a direct study internship to complete her Sculpture MFA at Academy of Art University, TonyaMarie was thrilled at the opportunity to sculpt one of her all-time favorite movie villains. “I had assumed that I would be doing repairs and refurbishing throughout the museum for my internship,” says Marie, who welcomed the opportunity to take on the specialized set of skills required of a wax museum. “When curator Curtis Huber told me he was going to have me sculpt, paint and create the Wicked Witch of the West, I was so excited! I’d not only get to learn the whole process, but also add an important piece to my own portfolio.”

TonyaMarie currently runs Gypsy Cat Studios, which she says has been heavily supported by costume work – from mascot characters to children’s theater companies throughout the Bay Area. It only seems fitting that she would be tasked with creating the head and hands for a character complemented by an equally iconic costume (created for the museum by Vincent of Dreamhouse). Marie also takes pride in her ability to design and create odd and unusual pieces for clients who are having difficulty finding someone to make them. “That is a niche I am known for and I love that type of work,” she says.

While the Wicked Witch may be hidden from view after Thursday, TonyaMarie’s stroll into the Land of Oz looks likely to continue into next year. “I have been contacted by someone for a very large Wizard of Oz event who wants me to design and make the props and costumes for the film’s 75th Anniversary in 2014. Also, Madame Tussauds is moving into the Wax Museum [at Fisherman’s Wharf] next summer, so you never know!”

TonyaMarie’s Wicked Witch sculpture can be viewed through this Thursday at the Wax Museum on 145 Jefferson Street at Fisherman’s Wharf. For any students willing to pull together a few friends, the museum has offered three FREE group passes (six students each) for anyone who wants to stop by the FASCU administration office at the Cannery (just a couple blocks from the museum). First come first served!

The Wizard of Oz wax troupe will only be on display through this Thursday!

The Wizard of Oz wax troupe will only be on display through this Thursday!

FASCU Students To Take Part In Sand Sculpting Event

FASCU students Jihoon Choi and Seok don Choi

FASCU students Jihoon Choi and Seok don Choi

FASCU students Jihoon Choi and Seok don Choi will be showing off their sculpting skills at San Francisco’s first ever international sand sculpture competition — Carve San Francisco – running October 16-20 near the Sports Basement at Crissy Field!

The event, which is hosted by Hub Strategy and follows their successful Carve Tahoe snow sculpting event last February, will also feature the return of AAU Sculpture Chair Lawrence Noble as one of the judges of the sand sculpting event.

“The Academy of Art University School of Sculpture is proud to provide two of our best students to Carve San Francisco,” says Noble. “It affords a great opportunity for both students to not only represent our home state of California but also their home country of South Korea. We are confident their talents will shine.”

Carve showcases the extreme art of sand sculpting, inviting teams from around the world to sculpt 400 tons of sand into astounding and intricate works of art over five days. It features sculpting, surf artistry and board shaping, music and gourmet food trucks provided by Off The Grid.

The event brings awareness to and raises funds for two non-profits, the San Francisco Chapter of Surfrider Foundation and Sustainable Surf. Funds are raised by encouraging visitors to vote with $1 for their favorite sculptures.

Carve will be held from October 16th-20th near the Sports Basement in the Presidio (Crissy Field) and will include daily activities including “Sandcastles & Schools” in which Bay Area students K-12 are invited to meet the artists, learn about ocean preservation and restoration, and play in 25 tons of sand.

Check out Carve San Francisco’s Facebook page for more info and updates!

1960s Cannery Model Discovered on Third Floor

While recently poking around the vacant third floor of FASCU’s new home at the Cannery, we came across a curious relic nestled into one corner of a seldom-used conference room. An architectural model of the Cannery, which we’ve discovered to be the actual model used during the structure’s 1960s renovation, has apparently survived the last 46 years as a quiet resident of the historical building. We actually found two photos placing the model’s creation in 1965 — first, in the photograph above, then-owner of the Cannery Leonard Martin poses with the model in the gutted-out interior of what would eventually become the current Cannery interior. A second photo (below) betrays what actually survives of the original 1907 Cannery structure: its four outer walls!

We think it’s pretty extraordinary that this model has survived over four decades, complete with the miniature Matchbox cars that can be seen in the ’60s photos. Too bad the empty, toll-free curb parking didn’t translate to the modern day…

FASCU Chair Noble by Jihoon Choi

Student Jihoon Choi has been keeping the staff and faculty here at the Cannery gleefully entertained with his summer series of faculty portrait sculptures (previous entries included Associate Director Margaret Keelan and instructor DJ Burt). We snapped a couple dozen images of his latest portrait of FASCU Chair Lawrence Noble and plugged them into a gif for some added value. With several weeks left in the summer session, we’re sure to see more faculty members in clay emerge from the studio of Jihoon Choi…


Portrait Sculpture Time-Lapse

Last semester, we set up a camera for three consecutive sessions in Lawrence Noble’s Portrait Sculpture (FASCU 345) class to see how a piece comes together in the span of just a few minutes. Check out student Shadoe Delgado (with cameos by Gianna Dispenza, Richard Thoms, and others) as he sculpts model Alexei Setian at FASCU’s Cannery studio. The four-minute video represents over 20 hours of sculpting!

Many thanks to Brad Robertson at Cyber Campus for editing the piece and composing the music!!

Lucas Unveils Noble’s Yoda and Indy Bronzes for New Park

The small North Bay city of San Anselmo recently welcomed two new members to its community thanks to the generosity of resident George Lucas and artistry of Academy of Art University Sculpture Chair Lawrence Noble. Coordinated by Connie Rodgers of the San Anselmo Park Fund (see our previous story here), life-size bronze statues of Yoda and Indiana Jones –characters from Lucas’ Star Wars and Indiana Jones film series – were officially unveiled in a dedication ceremony for a new park in the city’s picturesque downtown district. Imagination Park, which occupies land donated by Lucas, is the new jewel of San Anselmo Avenue, thanks to a tranquil green space and centerpiece fountain topped with Noble’s stunning bronze figures.

George Lucas and FASCU Chair Lawrence Noble at Imagination Park dedication

George Lucas and FASCU Chair Lawrence Noble at Imagination Park dedication (Photo by Pete Vilmur)

“I am pleased as well as honored to have had the opportunity to have sculpted these two American icons and to witness their investment as bronze sculptures into our culture,” says Noble. “As the entire Star Wars Saga was created by George Lucas in San Anselmo, it is both fitting and proper as well as the perfect place for a park in their honor.”

While the park represents the third public installation for the Yoda bronze – the other two occupy Lucasfilm’s Presidio campus and Lucas’ Big Rock Ranch – this is the first and only public display of Noble’s Indiana Jones life-size bronze, which was delivered to Lucas back in 2009. Like the Lost Ark of the Covenant, the bronze was stored in Lucas’ vast archives building until the fateful day when it would be revealed and displayed for all to enjoy.

The bronze pair was unveiled under a bright summer sky by George Lucas himself amid throngs of community members and fans eager to take part in the historical dedication of a place sure to flow strong in the Force for generations to come.

You can visit Imagination Park in San Anselmo at 535 San Anselmo Avenue at Magnolia. To learn more about the park or to donate and have your name immortalized at the park, go to Related: Lucasfilm’s Yoda Fountain: A Discussion with the Artist

George Lucas admires the new Indiana Jones bronze by AAU Sculpture Chair Lawrence Noble

George Lucas admires the new Indiana Jones bronze by AAU Sculpture Chair Lawrence Noble (Photo by Pete Vilmur)

Noble's Yoda sits behind Indy atop the park's large centerpiece fountain

Noble’s Yoda sits behind Indy atop the park’s large centerpiece fountain (Photo by Pete Vilmur)

Alameda Police Memorial Bronzes by FASCU Chair Lawrence Noble

"The Grieving Angels" monument

“The Grieving Angels” monument

Yesterday, three bronze sculptures by FASCU Chair Lawrence Noble were unveiled in front of Alameda Police Department memorializing two fallen officers from the department, Robert J. Davey and Deward B. Gresham. The event, which drew a large crowd of Alameda officers, press, and friends and family of the honored officers, included an introduction by Alameda Mayer Marie Gilmore and the ceremonial unveiling of the of three bronzes. In addition to two life-sizes busts, a “Grieving Angels” monument was also installed at the site, memorializing all who have served in the Alameda Police Department.

Check out some photos captured at the event below, and also head over to for several more.

Alameda Mayor Marie Gilmore, and Lawrence Noble at the Alameda Police Memorial

AAU Vice President Melissa Marshall, Alameda Mayor Marie Gilmore, and FASCU Chair Lawrence Noble at the Alameda Police Memorial

A friend of fallen Officer Deward Gresham admires the bronze cast in his image

A friend of fallen Officer Deward Gresham admires the bronze cast in his image

Lawrence Noble talks with Sue Davey, the wife of fallen Officer Robert Davey, Jr.

Lawrence Noble talks with Sue Davey, the wife of fallen Officer Robert Davey, Jr.

The memorial attracted a lot of press coverage

The memorial attracted a lot of press coverage