By Pete Weitzner | Special to the NB Indy
It’s not hard to find Gray Malin these days.
“He’s everywhere, his celebrations are everywhere,” Balboa Island Museum Newport Beach’s Executive Director Tiffany Pepys Hoey said. “We all knew him, he’s in People Magazine.”
And thanks to Pepys Hoey, the works of the fine-art and aerial photographer will be even easier to find for residents and visitors to Balboa Island, as Malin’s art takes up residence in the Museum’s storefront gallery through the summer.
Just 35, Malin’s latest monography, “Gray Malin: The Essential Collection,” is a celebration of his fist 10 years of photography. And in 10 years, he has lived and photographed a lifetime, on seven continents. Much of that work, in some form or another, is featured in the museum’s gallery.
“Perfect timing—much of his art reminds of summer. There’s one wholly Newport Beach exhibit,” Pepys Hoey said.
Malin has photographed the Wedge and many of the world’s most famous beaches, often from on high, his aerial photography one of many features his art has become known for in a short period of time.
“He started with aerial views of beaches with only scattered beachgoers,” Museum Past President Shirley Pepys said. “We’re thrilled to be a part of Gray Malin’s photography exhibit.”
Gray Malin was born in Dallas, Texas, and launched his career in the West Texas town of Marfa (pop 1,813), by placing images of Prada and Prada stores in and among the West-Texas town’s landscape and locals. Those images, with titles like “Dawn” and “Two Cowboys,” remain his bestsellers and personal favorites. He referred to his “Prada Marfa” series as an “ode to Andy Warhol,” in a 2016 story in W Magazine.
After Marfa, Malin took off – literally. He dove into aerial photography, often taking pictures of beaches, bathers, and umbrellas from on high – Sydney’s Coogee Beach and Bondi Beach among his most popular. A few weeks here, and on to the next destination.
“What he has done to combine travel with his work is brilliant,” Shirley Pepys said.
All of Malin’s works can be taken in or purchased at the summer gallery at the Museum, which can also custom order.
Malin’s art and panache have caught the eye and favor of celebrities. Actress Reece Witherspoon is said to be a collector, and Duchess of Sussex Meghan Markle an Instagram pal, where Malin has some 450K followers. There’s even a Gray Malin app.
“There’s a serenity about his work that’s captured his audience and become widely known in the art world,” Shirley Pepys said.
“The elephant at the Parker is iconic,” Pepys Hoey said, pointing up Malin’s two series of works at the Parker Palm Springs hotel, where Malin’s photos often feature four-legged animals like an elephant or giraffe – playfulness another trademark of Malin’s art.
“Beaches,” a New York Times bestseller, covered five years of work, 26 cities and six continents. His latest, “Essential Collection,” covers the first ten years, including some 300 images, many of them beaches, bathers, and umbrellas, like “Beach Ball Splash,” shot at Coral Casino Beach in Santa Barbara.
“Umbrellas, loungers and scattered sunbathers…my universal canvas,” Malin told the Financial Times, which placed “Essential Collection” on its summer reading list.
To launch the Malin Gallery, the museum held a well-attended reception in late June. The West Hollywood photographer’s work is the main draw this summer, while the museum gallery always carries some fifteen local artists, among them mixed-media specialist Marie Lavallee, glass sculptor Lynleigh Love and Little Island oil painter Jan Steele.
As for fall, Pepys Hoey and the museum find themselves in an envious position – no shortage of artists calling and stopping by, hoping their work can take up residence.
“We’ve had success with every artist we put up there,” Pepys Hoey said. The designer-curator selects each piece of art of the gallery, and for the second quarter in a row, topped off the exhibit with a ceiling-art installation. Colorful umbrellas protected the works of the featured local artists in the spring. Rattan weave lantern balls hover above Malin’s photography.
“The Gallery is very popular with local artists,” Shirley Pepys said, noting the museum store has also exceeded expectations since opening with the new location two and a half years ago.
When you visit Balboa Island Museum Newport Beach, check out the Malin exhibit or the gift store, with custom puzzles, art, home decor, and other items. There’s online shopping and curbside pickup.
All purchases support the museum’s community and educational programs. Members receive a 10% discount.
The museum is open Monday – Thursday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Friday – Sunday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.. Free general admission. Become a member at balboaislandmuseum.org/become-a-member/.
Balboa Island Museum is located at 210 Marine Ave., Balboa Island. For more information, visit https://balboaislandmuseum.org.
Author Pete Weitzner is the producer of the documentary “Golden Age of Newport Harbor.”