Before glitter beards, there was Santa's beard, the original and most iconic holiday beard around. While Santa rocks one impressive snowy beard, have you ever noticed how he’s said to be “always lurking” in books and music? Just take the lyrics, he knows when you’ve been bad or good, so be good for goodness sake. For that to be true, he must always be stalking watching you. This darker side of Santa is OC-based artist Trace Mendoza’s focus for his upcoming exhibition at the Daniel Rolnik Gallery, entitled “Always Lurking.”

“Always Lurking” will be Trace’s first solo show, though gallery owner Daniel Rolnik has worked with him since 2012.

With a style that can be described as an eerie yet whimsical deconstruction of cultural iconography, Trace is preparing to kick off the show in a similarly offbeat manner – by flooding the gallery. The flooding will be in commemoration of a freak flood that broke out while Trace was in college, causing him to lose everything but also changing his life and artistic vision forever.

The kickoff event will be beard strong – both Trace and Daniel are bearded, and Daniel will even be dressed up as an incarnation of Santa himself.

A Zeus team member will be at the event, so feel free to stop by, take in some alternative holiday cheer, and say hi!

As a preview for the show's opening, we had the chance to talk to Trace about that one time Mr. and Mrs. Claus cut him off in traffic, how to navigate the flooded gallery, and of course, why he beards.

Enjoy, and hope to see you there (details below the interview)!

Santa Show

1. This is your debut show! How are you feeling?

I’m very excited for the show and relieved now that we got all the new work hung in the gallery – it’s around 40 new pieces.

2. We hear you were cut off by Santa and Mrs. Claus earlier this year! Did that at all inspire your decision to devote this show to the devious side of Santa Claus?

Everyone knows Santa likes to party and he didn't like me announcing that publicly. He went too far though, talking all that mess about me on TMZ.

3. You’ll be flooding the gallery! Will we still be able to walk around?

Bring a Jet Ski or inner tube.


4. Where do you get your artistic inspiration from?

The inception of my artwork starts with my sketchbook, which absorbs all my daily interactions with others and that translates into my paintings. Aesthetically I'm very inspired by punk rock, Cartoons, Sci-Fiction, Spanish painting masters, and elements of Americana.

5. Do you play music when you work? If so, what kind?

Lately a lot of Mac Dre and Andre Nickatina's "The Tale of Two Andres" and SLEEP's "Holy Mountain".

6. Why do you beard?


7. Where do you see yourself a year from now?

Painting and bearding across the country.



Always Lurking Show

ADDRESS: 1431 Ocean Ave, Santa Monica, CA 90401

TIME: Saturday, December 12th from 7 PM – 11 PM

PARKING: FREE 90 MINUTE PARKING is available in the Santa Monica city lots on 2nd Street at Santa Monica Blvd or Broadway.

VALET PARKING is available for a fee of $15 directly next to the gallery. Go down the ramp between Pacific Plaza and the Georgian Hotel.

The Daniel Rolnik Gallery is a DOG FRIENDLY gallery.

If you're arriving by bicycle, you can chain it up on the railing outside the gallery.

For more information, visit