Arts & Culture » 1st Thursday

Art of Skating

Greg Goulet and Paul Whitworth on skateboarding as a way of life


In the years since it was invented, skateboarding and skateboarders have faced a number of presuppositions: It's not a real sport; the kids who do it are delinquents and hooligans; the riders use their boards to inflict intentional property damage. As with any niche group, yes, there are going to be members who give their peers and their pasttime a bad name. But, then, there are those (like professional rider Tony Hawk) who will rise above all the naysaying to prove that not every bad apple ruins a whole barrel (or those who do barrel flips). While skateboarding isn't as mainstream as say, bicycling, it's definitely become a bigger part of the Boise metropolitan landscape, and local skateboarders are a part of this community.

Two such skaters are also business owners. Greg Goulet and Paul Whitworth own Prestige, a skateboard shop in the heart of downtown Boise. Along one wall in the store is row upon row of skateboard decks, the bottoms of which are covered in some amazing urban art. Whitworth and Goulet appreciate the value of skateboard art and wanted to see what local artists could come up with if given the same medium. And this First Thursday, that artwork will be on display at Prestige.

BW: You guys did this once before: gave blank skateboard decks to local artists to do with whatever they wanted.

Paul: We did, but it's been almost two years since the last one.

How many boards are you expecting?

Paul: We gave out 20. We might get 20, we might get two.

Greg: This is our two-year anniversary, too, which is why we waited so long.

Who are some of the people you gave boards to?

Paul: Ben Wilson is obviously on the list. Kelly Knopp, Willow Socia, Jerms, Nobel Hardesty, Grant Olsen, Jenny Rice and more.

What do you say to the people you give boards to?

Paul: We just tell people, "Hey, you can do whatever you want."

Greg: Total freestyle. We stress that. They can cut them up ...

Paul: We actually encourage that but no one ever does.

What do you plan to do with the boards after?

Paul: We're stumped on that.

Greg: They can sell the board, or ... I don't know. Originally, we were going to donate any money made to a skatepark fund, but we just didn't organize that in time.

Paul: We're still trying to decide if we want to sell them and then donate the money to a charity or just let the artists sell the boards for whatever they want. In the future, we'll probably auction them off. We're just excited to see what they [the artists] do with the boards, but past that, we haven't really decided what to do. We don't want to put a price on someone's art. We do have some skateparks coming up that we're going to need to do some fundraising for, so we'll see.

Do you ever do any other kind of art thing here?

Paul: No. Even this is kind of hard. We're not an art gallery. But we really appreciate all of these artists and what they do, and it's really fun to give them a board and see what they do. We just do it for fun and we really enjoy it.

Greg: Plus [for First Thursday] we're a stop with hot cocoa and mini-marshmallows.

So you guys have been here two years, now. How are things going?

Greg: So far so good.

Paul: Really good. Little by little we're gaining ground.

How long have you guys been skating?

Paul: I've been skating for 19 years and Greg's been skating that long or more.

Do you still skate a lot?

Paul: Oh, yeah.

Greg: I skate to work every day. We've kind of been able to gear our lives around being in the downtown area. Both of us live in parts of the North End where we can easily skate to work (or walk if it's raining). It's nice. We're pretty much in skating distance from anything, whether it's the grocery store, the video store or the movie theater. That's one of the reasons we really wanted to [have the shop] downtown, so we could gear our lives around skating. We're in it 'til the wheels fall off.

--Amy Atkins

Thursday, December 7, 6 p.m., Prestige Skateboards, 106. S. 11th St., Boise, 424-6824,