Cruise Bogle was living a happy, healthy teenage life until an accident on the beach changed his course forever.
Growing up on the water in Maine, his family moved to Delray Beach when he was 10. He played soccer, surfed, and was a lifeguard. In May 2008 he graduated from Atlantic High School in Delray Beach with a Bright Futures Scholarship and started his first semester at Tallahassee Community College. He thought about becoming a firefighter.
In December 2008, Cruise headed to the beach and started skimboarding, but this time his board slipped out from underneath him, then he fell backward and hit his head on the rough sand.
The devasting diagnosis was paralysis. Most people would despair and retreat.
But not Cruise.
Flash forward 14 years later and Cruise is making his name as an artist, clothing designer, and even philanthropist. Using assistive technology he started an urban clothing line and produces an annual benefit to help others who have become disabled.
After rehab, he realized his abilities. On a visit to his home studio in Delray Beach, he wheels around in his revved-up chair and shows off stacks of work and a huge screened-in breezy patio studio. His assistant Gina sets up the easels and paint trays.
“I had taken art classes in high school and I figured that if I wanted to do art, I could do it with my mouth. That’s cool. Never really thought too much about it. About six or so months passed by and I was back here in Del Ray at my parents’ house, with not much going on. And I thought oh, let me try painting. I did one or two and they came out pretty well. My mom shared it with all their friends. Everybody was raving about it. She started printing them on t-shirts and stuff as a fundraiser. So that started that.”
Inspiration came in the form of the water he had always been around.
“I kind of wait for the inspiration to hit,” he says. “So whether it’s a TV show or a movie or something I see out in nature I’ll be like, oh, I want to do that. I sit on that idea for a bit, mull it around in my head for maybe a couple of days. Then I go into a piece knowing what I want to do with it. It’s very rare that I’ll force myself to paint, like get in front of the canvas and just create something from nothing. That’s not how my brain is wired. I don’t work from sketches or photos. I get my style from bright nautical things.’
On this day he is adding details to a sailboat on the ocean. He makes delicate strokes with the dark grey paint he has dipped into the small paint trays.
A stack of small square painted canvases on a table are being prepared for an unusual project.
“We have a project called the Curious Creature Collective,” Cruise explains. “We’re taking my physical works of art, digitizing them, and then creating them into these digital assets called NFTs. For the past couple of months, I’ve been doing things like this, where, whether it’s just a background or an attribute, they all come together digitally to create something. It might just be a color background for each of them. But then that one will get painted and be part of the digital montage.”
He has recently collaborated with celebrated Palette Knife Painter Sarah La Pierre. A large painting Cruise and La Pierre created together of an octopus hangs in Cruise’s living room.
“Cruise and I met on Instagram,” La Pierre says, “and we got to know each other through chats and zooms. Our conversations are, surprise – usually art related, or at least start there, and at some point, the idea of painting together came up since we are both in Palm Beach County and also happen to share some of that Florida motif across our art styles. Maybe more than that though, I think we have a kinship when it comes to our curiosity as artists. We both have the desire and drive to grow as creatives and seek challenges, and people, that will stretch our abilities and the ways we consider making art.”
As for what she admires about his skills she says “Cruise has a rare skill when it comes to painting and it’s always exciting to see another artist’s process in person! I think he has a keen eye for color and his personality comes through on canvas so it’s no wonder people love his art. Seeing his mouth painting technique and the way he works through a painting with what to me seems like laser focus is impressive, so of course, I’m a big fan.”
As busy as he is, he does not paint every day.
“It’s usually at least a few times a week, not necessarily every day. I gotta feel the inspiration to do it and create. So usually I’ll get on a roll. I’ll do three days in a row, take a couple of days off, and then the next week I’ll hit it again throughout the week.”
He just held Cruiser Palooza, a benefit with live music from The Resolvers, food, drinks, and a silent auction held at The Delray Beach Playhouse. The event provides Cruise with a source of emotional, as well as financial support for his current and future needs.
With the growth of Cruiser Palooza over the years, Cruise realized that he could also impact others. Cruise contributed 50% of the proceeds from this year’s event to Glenniesha Darkins from South Miami. Darkins is also a quadriplegic mouth-painting artist. Darkins does not have access to the same level of care and support that Cruise has and the funds will impact her life tremendously. He sold 350 tickets at $100 each.
They have a fundraising website set up, and over the years, it has blossomed into a business as well. And then over the last five years, with the painting, he’s created a brand around himself and the art. He sees his purpose now is to create art and connect with people and do collaborations and just share bright positive things with the world.
Learn more about the artist online at cruisebogle.com