‘Decked’ art exhibit puts spotlight on skateboarding world

BUTLER COUNTY — A new gallery exhibit in Hamilton celebrates the impact of skateboard art and skateboarding around the world.

“Decked, like skateboarding culture itself, is diverse but with shared commonalities. It’s gritty but shiny. It can be a bit obstinate and challenging, sure, and some still may misunderstand it. But it’s also still here, now trending and vibrant once again. And in that sense, it’s not so unlike the city of Hamilton we love,” said David Stark, community manager at Artspace Hamilton Lofts and The Strauss Gallery.

There will be a public opening reception for “Decked” from 7 to 10 p.m. Friday at The Strauss Gallery on High Street. The exhibition will be on display through Oct. 1. It is free and will include food, drinks and live entertainment.

Jay Kidd is the head curator for “Decked.” Actively involved in the art community, Kidd serves as one of the managers for The Strauss Gallery and he is the property manager at Artspace Hamilton Lofts. He’s also the head of the 17 Strong Communications Committee. He and a couple of friends came up with the idea for the exhibition.

“This was a show that was conceived by me, a buddy of mine named Griffin Parker and his girlfriend, Elsie Bradley,” he said. Kidd, Parker and Bradley are co-curators of the exhibition.

“Griffin, Elsie and I were having a conversation about skateboard art in general, so it was a moment where Griffin and I looked at each other, and in an instant, we knew we wanted to some kind of skateboard art show,” said Kidd.

Over the next few months, he said, they met to flesh out the idea. Parker and Bradley put out a call to artists, internationally. The call for artists was first put out at home, including to Artspace residents. There are 17 Artspace artists who have works in the show.

“Currently, in the gallery, there are 80 skateboards from over 60 artists, and those artists are across three countries,” Kidd said. “There was an overwhelming response to the call for entries.”

He said, “We are still receiving late submissions, and by the time we receive all of our submissions, there are probably going to be over 100 individual skateboards from four different countries, if everything lands exactly where we’d hoped.”

Skateboard art has a history, especially during the 1980s and 1990s, of being very closely tied to street art, Kidd said.

“You have a lot of board designs that are very similar to graffiti and things like that. However, that’s not where we are today. Any artist of any style can come in here, in the industry at large, and make a rad-looking board and someone’s going to be interested. So, what we’re doing for ‘Decked’ is we have this diverse sea of different styles,” Kidd said. “And, on top of that, we’re highlighting a variety of mediums.”

For “Decked,” we aren’t just painting blank skateboards. In fact, the show has a lot of skateboard adjacent art as well. About a fourth of the entire show is digital art that has been put onto a skateboard.

Some of the artists in the show have taken blank boards, primed them and painted them. Other artists have carved art into the board. A few skateboards have the art burnt into them, using woodburning art techniques.

“We have an entire board that is a tile mosaic. Some artists have sculpted onto their board. It’s a real multi-media experience. One of our artists didn’t take a standard deck, but instead, welded a sculpture that is skateboard themed. Basically, it’s a big metal sculpture of a futuristic hoverboard,” Kidd said.

While 95 percent of the art in the show is a physical deck, not all of them are painted, he said. Some are professionally created digital art, which are put onto a deck by a print process. One of them is a sculpture of a deck. Others are sculpted clay, which is placed on a deck.

There’s also art beyond decks, such as skateboard animation of a character skating. One fiber artist did a cross stitch of different skate scenes of characters skateboarding and those are framed and mounted on the wall. Another fiber artist created skate shoes in 3-D, using art.

“The exhibition is a whole celebration of skate culture,” Kidd said.

How to go

What: “Decked,” a curated art exhibition that celebrates skateboard art

When: Opening reception Friday; exhibition through Oct. 1

Where: Artspace Hamilton Lofts & The Strauss Gallery, 222 High St., Hamilton

Cost: Free

More info: www.artspace.org/hamilton

About the Author