If you were in Annapolis the weekend of June 2nd, you might have caught the launch of 29 boats kicking off the Annapolis to Newport Race, one of the most famous and historic of the U.S. East Coast blue water races. One of the boats missing from that action was Space Monkey, a recently rebranded boat that, like 31 others, was pulled from the race hours before its start due to extreme conditions offshore in the Atlantic Ocean—20-30 knot winds and 10-12 foot waves, amid other challenges. While disappointing, that didn’t dampen the spirits of the crew and the artist who came to Annapolis to officially kick off its seafaring life as Space Monkey. That artist is James Marshall, also commonly known as Dalek.
Deep Roots in the Yard
Marshall’s connection to the U.S. Naval Academy is strong; he is descended from multiple USNA family members. His grandfather James G. Marshall was a Class of 1932 graduate and went on to become a destroyer captain in WWII. Lost in a freighter explosion while on duty in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in 1951, his name is forever honored in Memorial Hall.
James G. Marshall’s father, James A. Marshall, graduated in 1962 and pursued a naval career in submarines that included time as base commander in Pearl Harbor. The younger Marshall’s uncle, Herb Sprague, was also a USNA graduate, Class of 1962. Finally, his grandmother, Mary Emma Marshall, wife of James G. Marshall, was known affectionately as Mrs. M. at the Academy. She served as their beloved first social director for two decades, from 1959 until her retirement in 1980. While James did not directly attend the Naval Academy, he did live with his parents in a home on Rodgers Street from 1982-1984 when he was a freshman and sophomore in high school. Since his parents were from Annapolis, the town became a second home to him as well. “I have a lot of memories running around that parade field,” he says.
Marshall was excited to be back to see the boat’s unveiling on June 2nd. He resides currently in North Carolina, and he brought his wife, who had never been to Annapolis. They took a USNA Tour with members of the crew. He recounts, “It was fun for me to go back and see it after all these years. Everything pretty much looks exactly how I remember it back in the 1980s, which is great.” The only spot he missed was the Dahlgren hockey rink, which is now at the Brigade Sports Complex “I used to go there to watch hockey games and to ice skate all the time,” Marshall says.
The Art That Made Him
In the years since, Marshall has made a name for himself as Dalek, known internationally for his character Space Monkey, as well as his photography, murals and illustrations. Space Monkey merges Marshall’s love for Japanese pop culture, the “vibe” of the punk scene, street art and cartoons. Marshall explains, “Space Monkey came out of a life-long fascination between the relationship of humanity and technology. The character represents a caricature of humanity through that lens, including my own personal journey.”
Space Monkey reflects the Pavlovian idea of training something to push buttons for rewards, and Dalek draws that connection between this and our modern society. He notes, “My concerns are that as technology creates convenience, we all become programmed to seek instant gratification from button pushing. This leads to reduced free thought and the devolution of humanity.” As he writes on his site, “Space Monkey became Dalek’s alter ego, a medium through which he expressed his emotions, ideas and concerns.” The design morphed substantially in 2007 when Marshall was developing work for the Jonathan LeVine Gallery exhibition Desperate, Rejected and Angry. He deconstructed the Space Monkey into layers of geometric shapes and an explosion of the color palette, bringing geometry and color to the forefront. While the character was dissolved, the spirit still lives in the flashing colors and multiple planes defining space and movement.
Space Monkey Launches
Long-time friend and colleague, David Greenstein, has always championed Space Monkey; he was the one who asked Marshall to provide the art for this boat. Greenstein is a helmsman, and the owner and promoter of the boat and the program. “When he reached out to ask if he could use the name I was extremely honored,” says Marshall. The Space Monkey boat graphic is both vibrant and playful, a cool reflection of the waves and a nod to the technology that Marshall embraces and cautions against.
Space Monkey is a mini-maxi class 70-foot in length built (as Greenstein describes it) “for speed, not comfort.” It’s a blue ocean racing boat, and this particular one boasts a storied legacy. “This very unique team is a mix of professional and Corinthian (amateur) sailors that have come together over the past couple of years, sailed together and now share a new boat,” notes Greenstein. Over the years, the boat (previously named Prospector) has won many races; as Space Monkey it’s ready to win more.
The new design fits the boat well. When he saw his art unveiled for the first time, Marshall was amazed. “What a fun opportunity to see my art in that context. They did a great job wrapping the boat,” he says. Then he quips, “Now I just need to convince David to do full color graphic sails.” The uniforms are similarly designed, Marshall says, “It’s an honor to have David name the boat after my character—and then to do the graphic work and all of the crew elements is a lot of fun.”
Dalek’s work continues to evolve in exciting ways. He has received critical acclaim and been featured in numerous publications, articles and magazines such as The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Juxtapoz, and more. He has also participated in numerous solo and group shows throughout the US, Asia and Europe, has painted a number of murals and completed a variety of commercially-commissioned work for companies including Nike, Hurley, American Express, Microsoft and Instagram.
Traditions That Endure
We were thrilled to have Marshall and members of the Space Monkey crew back to tour the Yard with us in early June, and we look forward to seeing Space Monkey compete in future races. Like many families with a strong USNA connection, the Marshall family has contributed greatly to the richness and honor of the Navy community. We celebrate them and their legacy as we carry those traditions forward. Come visit the Yard! The Naval Academy Business Services Division supports the Brigade of Midshipmen by donating our profits from our 20 business units that allow our mids to be successful, well rounded future leaders. We support a variety of extracurricular activities such as cultural arts, theater, music, club sports, and many other club activities.See the spot where Space Monkey was first unveiled, and enjoy the enduring spirit of the Yard!