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Puako artist unveils life-size statue in California

June 6, 2014 - 12:05am

Hawaii Island artist Chris Barela unveiled his life-size statue Thursday in Redondo Beach, Calif., of 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 wet suit, will grace the entrance to King Harbor Yacht Club at Redondo Beach’s scenic Seaside Lagoon.

A mini-version of the statue is on display at Barela Gallery at the Shops at Mauna Lani. For more than 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 crates to Barela’s foundry in Ventura, Calif., 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,” said 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.

For information, contact Barela Gallery at 885-5111 or visit

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