The Art of the Skateboard

March 19, 2022 - June 12, 2022

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The roots of skateboarding appear in the 1950s when surfers applied the idea of surfing to the streets. The first skateboards were simple, wooden planks with roller skate parts bolted to the bottom. By the 1960s, the first skateboard-specific manufacturers appeared as well as the first skateboarding contest. After this peak, popularity began to decline, but new advances in the urethane wheel in the early 1970s gave rise to a boom in the sport. 

Throughout the 1970s, companies devoted to skateboarding thrived, but the sport rose and fell in popularity as corporations took advantage of their opportunities. In the 1980s, skateboarding coincided with the punk rock scene, and skateboarding once again took to the streets, this time reborn bigger and better. The art, the tricks, the equipment, and the personalities of this time made this the golden era of skateboarding.  

Through the ups and downs, booms and crashes, what remains is that skateboarding is constantly evolving with new tricks, new terrain, and endless possibilities. This multi-part exhibition will explore the history, art, and culture of skateboarding past and present. 

Speed Wheel Art Show: A Brief History of Decks and Wheels
The re-birth of skateboarding in the mid-1980s is considered the golden era of skateboard graphics. The artwork produced by Jim Phillips and his studio for Santa Cruz Skateboards has become some of the most memorable skateboard deck and wheel graphics. Under the guidance of Art Director Jim Phillips and Brand Manager Richard Metiver, the “Speed Wheels Santa Cruz” brand family was born. 

Beyond the Deck: Showcasing the Artists behind the Skateboard
Skateboarding has evolved since its beginning, and this is not limited to the hardware. The earliest commercial skateboard deck art is considered to have been done by Wes Humpston and Jim Muri and the iconic “Dogtown Cross” in the mid-1970s, with riders continuously customizing their deck to express themselves. This exhibition aims to highlight the artists behind skateboarding, including Jason Arnold, Tim Baron, Sean Cliver, Thomas Fernandez, Mark Foster, “French,” Dylan Goldberger, Keith Haupt, MAKO, Marc McKee, and Phillip Morgan. 

Inclusive: Highlighting Emerging Underground Skaters and Artists  
Skateboarding culture has its roots in outsider society, causing the community to form a family mentality. Since the mid-1980s with the rise of Thrasher Magazine and Transworld, access to this hidden world has been brought to the mainstream, and the X-Games brought international skaters into people’s homes in a new ways. As the scene has grown, so have the teams and crews. This exhibition will feature the art of these newly forming crews and will include photography, video, ‘zines, and decks to spotlight their talents and personal styles.  

This exhibition aims to highlight the artists documenting and promoting inclusivity in skateboarding today, including Norma Ibarra, Sam McGuire, Jeffrey Cheung, Marbie Miller, Briana King, There Skateboards, Glue Skateboards, BottomFeeder, Pave the Way, Skateism Magazine, and more.

Canyon of the Wolfbat: Skatepark Installation by Dennis McNett
Skateboarding started in the streets and later found a home in the empty pools during the California drought of 1976. Any spot to skate was game, and as dedicated skateparks gained momentum, so did the art surrounding art. Graffiti and murals started to populate the parks themselves as an extension and regional style. Each park became a reflection of the people on multiple levels, including the people that built them and those that used them. This exhibition is designed and built by Slam City Skatepark and Dead End Skateboards, with art by Dennis McNett.  

The Art of the Skateboard is curated by FWMoA Curator of Contemporary Art Josef Zimmerman. Ken Harman of Hashimoto Contemporary co-curated Inclusive: Highlighting Emerging Underground Skaters and Artists.

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