Ruben Aira Jr. was born in Havana, Cuba. At a young age he and his family fled their island home and immigrated to the United States, ultimately settling in Maryland. Always encouraged by those who surrounded him, Ruben showed and early talent for art and has always known that being an artist was his life journey. As a young man Ruben spent years traveling the world. First, backpacking around Europe and then hitchhiking across the United States. His travels ended when he moved to Hawaii in 1998, making the North Shore of Oahu, Hawaii his new home. There, he has been continually inspired by the sea, the flora, and the fauna that populate the land. Though Ruben has been an artist his whole life he has worked in many different professions, from graphic artist to journeyman roofer, and Alaskan crab fisherman to textile designer. However, it wasn’t until 2015 that he decided to pursue his lifelong passion of creating art.

A new chapter...

The next chapter in Ruben's journey began in a house on top of Pupukea, where the earliest of his creations centered on the discovery of a new art form: the carving of surfboards whose glory days of riding waves had passed. He prided himself on creating art for the land from a product made for the ocean. This innovative art form has now become part of his family’s heritage, something to be passed down from one generation to the next as a timeless treasure. As attention garnered for this new style, Ruben was invited by the World Surf League to design and create trophies for the Hawaiian Pro and Vans Triple Crown championships, an honor which he has served since 2016. It was at this time, that he was also awarded his first major gallery representations with Bill Wyland Galleries in Lahaina and Wy's Gallery in Haleiwa.​The following year, Ruben began participating in art exhibitions and auctions to benefit local community causes and charities -- such as the Art Auction for Waialua Community Association and the "Silent Empowerment" Art Exhibit at SALT at Kaka'ako -- making him a household name.

A Hawaiian surfboard is created and carefully crafted by the hand of a skilled shaper, combining function and beauty in its design. It is then passed to a surf rider who, together with this new board, challenges themselves against the power of the ocean and soon becomes one with each other and with the waves. The time spent in the ocean lives forever within this board, and the dings, scratches, and compression marks are a history written on its skin. Then, one day, the mighty ocean ends the journey of this board, broken in half and lying helpless on the beach. This story plays out every day here in Hawaii, and within these relics, a new story will be told, resurrected in a new form but still carrying their mana within them. With care and creativity, they are transformed by the hand of the artist, immortalizing their story and combining it with the artist's vision. A new journey begins, a new challenge is created, and a new Hawaiian art form is born.

Ruben JR.

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