Kook calendar celebrates Cardiff

A page from the 2013 Cardiff Kook Calendar shows a papier mache pterodactyl grabbing onto the Magic Carpet Ride statue in Cardiff. (Photo courtesy of Fred Caldwell)

A page from the 2013 Cardiff Kook Calendar shows a papier mache pterodactyl grabbing onto the “Magic Carpet Ride” statue in Cardiff. (Photo courtesy of Fred Caldwell)

Helen Hawes

If graphic artist Fred Caldwell needed an amen to act on his big idea, he got it in the unlikeliest of places. It was while listening to the State of the City address a few years ago. When the mayor mentioned “The Cardiff Kook” and the audience came to life with a happy roar, Caldwell knew his idea of a calendar featuring the bronze sculpture would be a success.

He was right. His new edition, the 2013 Cardiff Kook calendar, is now available.

“Kook” is slang for a new surfer or a dork. Although it’s official name is “Magic Carpet Ride,” the statue everyone calls “The Cardiff Kook” is a bronze replica of a beginning surfer that people love to adorn with costumes or enlarge with their own sculptures in the dead of night to the amusement of the community and the chagrin of the law.

Caldwell’s calendar commemorates the community’s creativity by featuring “The Kook” in his many guises, from Flash Gordon to Tiger Woods to Oktoberfestus and the perennial Birthday Boy. The 13-month flip chart runs through January 2014 and is chock-full of photos, artwork and stories about “The Kook.”

In addition, there are drawings of the statue by Mindy Trees’ fourth-grade class at Ada Harris Elementary. Caldwell extended the invitation to the school because he was inspired by fond memories of his own fourth-grade teacher, Mrs. Read.

The statue has not only inspired the calendar, but also the Cardiff Kook Run, Kook Café, Cardiff Kook mural, Cardiff Kook website and Kook Fan Page on Facebook.

Unfortunately, although the sculpture has become, in an odd way, beloved, its creator, Matthew Antichevich, has been scorned.

Antichevich was commissioned to sculpt the piece by the Cardiff Botanical Society.

“I was honored to be chosen,” he said.

The collaboration of artist and client began with meetings to discuss which surfer the sculpture would depict. At first, the committee vacillated between a famous longboarder or shortboarder.

Antichevich’s idea was different; he wanted to create the first sculpture of a female surfer. A surfer himself, Antichevich’s two daughters are also into the sport. He told the committee he would use one of them for a model, but they would have to choose because he couldn’t pick between them. But the committee decided on a new idea.

“They wanted to represent a young boy beginning to surf. That’s what I gave them,” Antichevich said.

But when the sculpture was installed, Antichevich says, the rock it stands on was facing the wrong way. It looks like the boy is surfing into traffic. He designed the piece so that the boy would be doing a “floater,” an ’80s move that was a precursor to the aerials done now. The boy is supposed to be surfing parallel to the ocean and the coast so that pedestrians coming from the north and south could enjoy it.

Antichevich says the proper way to view the piece now as it was meant to be seen is from across the street and south, on the catacorner.

The sculptor also didn’t foresee the malignment of his work, which began with a television news report featuring his detractors, who said they didn’t think his subject looked like an experienced surfer. Antichevich says his comments, that the statue was meant to depict a beginner, weren’t included in the story.

Disheartened, he stopped talking to the press or anyone else who asked him if “The Kook” was his work.

“I’d just say yes and walk away,” he said.

But while Antichevich’s approval in the area hit low ebb, the sculpture’s popularity began riding high. Now it’s a community icon.

The public reaction, both good and bad, is something Antichevich never fathomed. He says he was camping at the state park when he woke up predawn and headed to the nearest café. That’s when he says he saw blue lights flashing like strobes around the statue.

“They were cameras; all these people were taking pictures,” Antichevich said.

They were snapping photos of what is now the sculptor’s favorite take-off on his piece – a giant pterodactyl that looks like it’s going to lift the statue off the rock and fly away.

But Antichevich has finally come to terms with being infamous.

“At first I didn’t like all the negative stuff,” he said. “But in the end, it turned out to be a good thing.”

Laughing, he adds that friends and relatives have now nicknamed him “The Kook.”

The 2013 calendar is available for $14 at Cardiff Seaside Market, Hansen’s Surf Shop, Encinitas Surfboards, Queen Eileen’s and Coast Highway Traders. A portion of the proceeds are donated to several charities. For more information or to become a retail distributor, contact Caldwell at [email protected].

Helen Hawes is a North County freelance writer