Way up in the winding hills of Topanga Canyon, conceptual artist Jimmy Ganzer holds a private, dreamy court at his sprawling art compound and home. Roll into the oak-enshrouded gravel driveway and you’re as likely to be greeted by a scraggly coyote as by Ganzer himself. The property itself extends over several acres and is laced with sprawling gardens, found statuettes, an intuitive pool, a dancefloor, vintage trucks and several art studios Ganzer built from scratch, using recycled materials.
Ganzer, who grew up in the Pacific Palisades, attended Chouinard Institute (the precursor to CalArts) where he established himself as a conceptual artist and surf icon during the 1970s, while working on a surf magazine. The Velcro strap that fastened the surf wetsuits he wore and the obsession with graphics he'd honed at the magazine served as the original inspiration for the surf-street label he launched in the ‘80s. Since then, his wanderlust hunger for art and adventure has informed every corner, crevice and room in his ever-expanding Topanga home.
- Jimmy Ganzer
Afternoons, Ganzer's often to be found ruminating inside the front room of the main house where surfboards are strung from the ceiling and every wall displays major artworks by the likes of Ed Ruscha, not to mention relics from Ganzer’s travels: photographs of Ganzer’s journeys in the JimmyZ Woodie and of an epic trip across Panama in a VW bus, the negative of an old JimmyZ T-shirt print, enlarged and deliberately hung over a window where it’s been purposefully disintegrating for 20 years, the skeleton of a Costa Rican parrot.
Shown below: Vintage finds and Ganzer’s sketches for prints, a 1980s JimmyZ print ad, JimmyZ decal.
Throughout the house and studios, large metal file cabinets are piled thick with photographs of California culture taken by Ganzer and his artist friends, archival inspirations, clip art musings, and thousands of sketches for prints. There are prints of voodoo faces and hammerhead crocodiles. Prints applied with a rare belt-press. Prints pressed with palm fronds and with the embers of an ash. The one element that ties it all together? T-shirts and tropical plants, large-scale paintings and tiny postage-stamp size illustrations? Ganzer likes to work with his hands. He is, in his own words: “one of the last analog cowboys.”
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