Proprietors of Chance Artworks
Chance Artworks (chanceartworks.com) is a dynamic duo of artists, Robert Lebsack and Kimberly F. Davis. Based in Long Beach, Calif., both Lebsack and Davis have exhibited their fine art in numerous solo and group art exhibitions throughout California. Their artwork and photographs are inspired by and capture the wonderment and whimsy of the sea. They say it expresses a great appreciation for a community whose culture and industry earned it the designation of the “Aquatic Capital of America” in 2008. When touring around Long Beach, it is likely you will pass a marine-inspired mural or public art piece created by the artists at Chance.
Sea: How did you get your start as artists?
KFD: As I was studying art and graphic design at Cal State Long Beach, I took a photography class. It was there that I discovered it was my favorite form of personal creative expression. This was before digital. I loved shooting black-and-white film, but once I took a color photography class I fell in love with color slide film. This is when I started experimenting with long exposure color photography, which is what I mostly shoot now, although with a digital camera.
RL: I began drawing when I was 9 or 10 years old. In high school, other kids would ask me to do the illustrations for their design projects in a class called “technology” where we did screenprinting and made business cards, flyers, etc. The teacher caught me and said I was only in trouble because I was doing it for free — so I started charging.
A lot of your art is inspired by the sea. Do you have any marine background?
RL: I love boating and being out on the water, diving and paddleboarding.
KFD: I was lucky enough to grow up near the ocean, in Huntington Beach, and have had friends who have boats and personal watercraft, so I grew up sailing, waterskiing and riding PWCs throughout California. I still love being out on the water and living near the ocean.
Why are people so drawn to marine-inspired art?
RL: Most people aren’t that exposed to the ocean on a daily basis. I think the idea of a whole other world existing just beneath the surface that’s exploding with life really activates people’s imagination.
What historical ship/person/event would you most like to have seen or met and been able to paint?
RL & KFD: We love the history surrounding the Queen Mary, especially the World War II stories. We’ve explored it all over and would have loved to have been a passenger steaming across the open ocean taking photos and doing drawings the whole journey.
Tell us more about the recurring boat and water elements in your artwork and photography and its significance.
RL: I find that water is interesting because of its transformational properties and its relationship to people. The nature of water is to flow, but it can also penetrate and shape the hardest surfaces. Since we’re made mostly of water, and the majority of the earth is covered in water, I think that we are a kind of an extension of the sea.
Can you talk about the artwork on the traffic control boxes you created for the city of Long Beach? What were its requests when you were commissioned?
RL: The city commissioned six boxes on 2nd Street in Belmont Shore. I was asked to come up with original concepts that would fit in well with the beach community and would be good for people of all ages. It needed to be tailored to people who may not necessarily be interested in fine art. I did four boxes dedicated to the culture and history of the city, and for the other two, I decided to do some sealife mixed with fantasy, having the animals soaring through the air like they are in a sea of clouds and interacting with their human counterparts, whimsically portraying unity and the interconnected nature of humans, the sea and its creatures.
For the one on Anaheim and Pacific, I decided to do a wildlife-themed box. I wanted to use animals that are visually striking. I picked one of my favorite animals, the sea turtle, along with one of the most fascinating life forms in the ocean, the jellyfish.
For the series of photos of Port of Long Beach, the photos were taken while I was on Port of Long Beach’s Harbor Boat Tour. We had heard about the boat tour from our friend who works at the port.
Our aim was to capture images from a perspective outside of how most people see the port area. As the sun sets, rich textures and colors activate on the rough surfaces of the weathered hulls of the ships. The natural light fades and powerful artificial lights begin to dance on the dark water. Beauty emerges from the banal.