The skateboard. That simple plank and four wheels has become an icon of rebellion (think Bart Simpson), punky adolescent love stories (think Avril Lavigne)--and art.
On Thursday, July 7, from 5-10 p.m., the skateboard will be the medium of the latter at the Art Deck-O Skate Deck Art Show and Auction. More than 25 local artists--both well-established and up-and-coming--will have their creativity on display at Mulligan's Bar when the home of late-night foosball games and killer people watching is turned into an art gallery for a night.
Contributing artist Sarah Creamer said she's excited about the unlikely location.
"It's a cool venue," Creamer said. "It'll be interesting to see who just stumbles in the bar and wonders what's going on."
Each artist involved was given a deck (that's the board part for the skate terminology-challenged) and not much else--no theme, no rules. The assignment for Art Deck-O marked the first time Julia Green had ever worked with a skate deck, although she'd wanted to for a long time.
"The only real challenge was trying to decide exactly what I wanted to make on the board, and the dimensions of the board," Green said. "The board is a lot thinner and longer than you realize, so composition really comes into play when laying out the artwork for the deck."
The artists' creations will not only be available for viewing, but for taking home as well. Each piece will be sold during a silent auction, with half of the proceeds going back to the artists and the other half benefiting the Boys and Girls Clubs of Ada County.
Contributing artist and unofficial show organizer Kelly Knopp grew up rolling around on skateboards and editing skate videos. He also has special insight into the Boys and Girls Club as its marketing director. Everything fell into place after Knopp assembled a "dream team" of local artists for the event.
"I picked people that I look up to, and people with a good reputation," Knopp said. "I wasn't sure if anyone would want to contribute, but there's been a great response. The artists have made it easy on me; I haven't had to knock on doors or beg. It's been great to see artists in Boise helping the community, and there's a great caliber of artists in the show--I hope people realize that."
Many of the artists, like Knopp, have some connection to the cause or skate culture. Contributing artist Ben Wilson has skated off and on since the '80s and volunteered at various Boys and Girls Club locations, and Creamer worked at an art camp for children in Maine and she painted longboards (long skateboards) for Boise-based Sibbz Custom Rides.
Thursday certainly won't be the first time skateboards have been seen in an artistic light.
Jane Brumfield, co-owner and curator of Basement Art Gallery in downtown Boise, remembers having a painted skateboard in the first show she oversaw at Basement in 2010. She understands the intrigue of unusual objects used in artwork.
"I think everything is fair game for art, and there's lots of issues with using an unconventional medium," Brumfield said. "There are all sorts of unexpected things, and having that third dimension can really add to a piece."
Brumfield also noted how attitudes toward pop culture-infused art have changed.
"Art is much more accepting of pop culture now," Brumfield said. "Illustration and graffiti are becoming more accepted, and that was almost completely unheard of 10-15 years ago. There have always been galleries willing to take risks, but the world is much more open now, and that's helped broaden people's awareness of what may have been considered subcultures."
Lori Wright, co-founder of Newt and Harold's, has been around board culture for 15 years. She said she isn't sure why the link between skateboarding and art exists, but she's glad it does.
"[I'm] happy to see that some of the skaters have grown up and started giving back to the community. There's a somewhat new attitude toward skating--it's viable, it's what kids do," Wright said.
Knopp said that the Art Deck-O show should contain "a lot of crazy stuff." While he wants the details of his own piece to remain a mystery, he did reveal that it has "something to do with a musical instrument." Creamer's piece also promises to be something completely original.
"It has to do with sports equipment, toys and robots--just because I like robots," Creamer said with a half-smile.
These works of art may be on skateboard decks, but they aren't necessarily meant to be skated on. For Green, seeing her work rolling down the sidewalk might be a bit tough.
"I really truly hope no one skates on the board," Green said. "I would hate to see it scratched and wrecked. It belongs on a wall."
That won't be problem for local skater Mike Shier, who has been skating for more than a decade.
"I wouldn't want to skate on something that's considered art," Shier said. "I'd want to hang something like that on a wall, like what they do at some tattoo shops. It's kind of a cool idea--a lot can be done with skate decks and art is so universal."
That universal connection is part of what Knopp hopes to achieve by using the decks as a medium and giving the contributing artists creative freedom.
"As time goes, people are more receptive to different things," Knopp said. "There's a skateboard culture anyway, and having a new canvas changes it up. It's not pretentious and there aren't rules. Anything goes."
UPDATE, Friday, July 15—For a slideshow of the event click here.