Artist 'Wyland' visits Seaport Village gallery to talk conservation

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -  A world-famous artist known for his marine life artwork and conservation stopped by his own gallery in Seaport Village Tuesday.

Wyland spoke with 10News about his connection to Southern California and the lives he's changing through his artwork.

Peggy Williams was visiting San Diego from Idaho this week. She said she bought her first Wyland about 30 years ago.

"His drawings and his work of the marine life is so real," Williams said. "It's kinda cool to pop in here today and run into him. How neat is that?"

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Wyland said his art reflects calls for environmental consciousness.

"It really reflects what people are thinking about. Hey, maybe we need to protect our ocean, our environment," Wyland said.

He's painted 100 ocean murals, including one still in downtown San Diego.

"I was inspired by Jaques Cousteau. He was like my hero," Wyland said. "I think I'm a better sculptor than painter."

But he's also working on a theme called "Starry Seas," which he brought to life in front of our 10News cameras.

"I thought, what if Vincent van Gogh, what if he painted underwater?" Wyland said as he plopped paint directly from the tube to the canvas. "It just gives it a really organic, really nice impressionist type feel."

He said his childhood helped shaped his attitude toward conservation.

"It was the first Earth Day. Of course, Green Peace was coming along," Wyland recalled. "When I came to California and I saw the Pacific Ocean and I saw a grey whale on that I day, I knew that was my place, that was my role."

To educate and inspire the next generation of artists, Wyland is leading a national challenge.

"We're doing a national Wyland art challenge. It's free to every school, every student," the artist said. "With all the crazy stuff going on in the world, we need more heart and more art and I'm going to always brings that."

Wyland's galleries will celebrate their 40th anniversary next year. His next big project will be 100 monuments in 100 cities - and he said San Diego is high on that list.

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