‘I love Matt Scott’: Santa Cruz icon and beloved friend needs us

Matt Scott was severely injured in a motorcycle accident July 1, and more than 900 people have rallied to help him as he faces a long recovery. Ann Wasserman has known Matt for decades, she writes, and misses his warmth, smile and her regular “Matt sightings” around town.

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Like hundreds of other Santa Cruzans across generations and from many walks of life, I love Matt Scott.

Our beloved artist, bike enthusiast, caterer, friend and Santa Cruz icon lies in critical condition after suffering grave injuries in a motorcycle accident on July 1. He was airlifted to Natividad Trauma Center in Monterey County with head injuries.

His sisters and best friend take turns keeping a vigil at his side. They sing to him, whisper and read from the outpouring of messages of support, love and hope and the hundreds of stories, songs, photos, playlists, prayers and memories almost 900 people have left for him on the Facebook page “Love for Matt Scott” devoted to following his recovery.

His friends have also created a GoFundMe site to defray mounting hospital bills. The fund has raised more than $50,000 in the three weeks since the accident.

I am not one of Matt’s closest friends. I have known him for 40 years, but I am 20 years older. I rarely see him, but every “Matt sighting” for me is like a little bit of magic. He is a little bit of magic.

It happens like this … I’ll be walking somewhere and suddenly there’s Matt, on his bicycle, and he stops, we chat, catch up a bit and he smiles and it’s like suddenly the sun is shining on just me, warming me and that feeling lasts all day.

Anyone who knows Matt knows that feeling.

As one friend wrote, “I have rarely felt so heard and seen in a conversation with anyone before.”

But it’s not just about the deep connection Matt is open to, Matt is also always the “funnest” guy in the room. He can make anyone smile and feel welcome and at ease.

He is an aficionado of DJ parties, festivals, music, talent shows, art of all kinds, photography, bicycling, professional disc golf, Burning Man, food, drinks, dancing, rapping, writing, skating, biking, creating, searching, exploring, discovering, conversing and relaxing. His easygoing demeanor, his ready laugh and natural curiosity made him the perfect person to interview people for the “Local Talk” at Good Times for many years.

Matt is also a talented and accomplished artist who works mainly in found-object assemblage. In his first series in 1994, he incorporated deer antlers and doll parts. Today, he uses wrenches, wings, piano keys and other objects he finds at the Santa Cruz Drive-In Flea Market to create sculptures. Hearts are integral to many of his pieces.

Matt makes stories from the stuff other people have thrown away.

Art has always been a big part of who Matt is. His mother, a single mom, who brought the family to Santa Cruz in 1982, always provided materials and encouragement for Matt and his two sisters to pursue their creativity.

Matt Scott, Santa Cruz artist and beloved friend to many, suffered serious head injuries in a motorcycle crash July 1.
Matt Scott, Santa Cruz artist and beloved friend to many, suffered serious head injuries in a motorcycle crash July 1.
(Via Ann Zelver)

He took art classes at Cabrillo College, studied jewelry-making, metal sculpture, photography and then found his true calling, found-object assemblage. His work has been shown locally at many galleries and art events.

But Matt is also much more. He’s a very big part of the Santa Cruz bicycling community and the professional disc golf community. He has cooked and catered all over town. He’s into the music scene and motorcycles … to name just a few of his other interests and areas of expertise.

His friend Dave Marquez remembers meeting him in junior high in a post on the Facebook site.

“I remember you arriving at Mission Hill Junior High with pegged pants held together by safety pins, a T-shirt full of holes, a funny haircut and an earring. That was it, friends for life.”

A stunning number of people consider Matt their true friend.

The outpouring of love and support has swelled and it is this huge community of Matt lovers who are buoying him on his journey of recovery. As one friend said, “We’re here for you in your time of need. Your friends, family, your acquaintances, and total strangers are surrounding you with all the positive energy we can muster to send your way.”

Matt is making slow but steady progress. After 14 days on a ventilator, he is now breathing on his own. A few days ago, he spoke his best friend’s name.

His path back will be long and slow and difficult.

I want to enjoy his smile, wisdom and spirit for years to come. I want to see him back on his bike, back in our community, back to spreading magic.

Ann Wasserman is an award-winning jewelry designer working in fine silver and glass. She has been making handmade jewelry in Santa Cruz since 2001. She arrived in Santa Cruz in 1973, just after graduating from Washington University in St. Louis. In Santa Cruz, she has taught preschool, tutored math, worked as a board-certified lactation consultant and for 20 years taught childbirth classes at Dominican and AMI Community hospitals. She was one of the first female bartenders in Santa Cruz and was one of the original owners of India Joze restaurant.

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