Skateboarders and Artists Join Forces for Denver’s First Skateboard Art Exhibit

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Artists and skateboarders subscribe to a similar philosophy: there are no rules. Perhaps that’s why so many members of the skateboarding community are also artists in one way or another. This commonality prompted the next Plank Canvas Art Exhibitiona free exhibition organized by Denver Squarehouse, an indoor skatepark and a place to Square State Skate. The event will take place on Saturday, May 14 and will showcase the work of over forty local artists from all creative backgrounds and disciplines, but each using the same canvas: the back of a salvaged skateboard.

“I really hope and encourage all artists to make it as weird as they want,” says Square State Skate Creative Director Kyle Garlock. “As for the subject matter, the material…we have people who do photography, sculpture and woodworking. We have paint, someone doing a CNC router type thing. And that was my hope. We’re all going to start with a blank canvas, a plank of wood, and how crazy can we get with that? »

Owner Garlock’s Square State Skate Team Brian Ball and general manager David Biddle found themselves in January with a surplus of skateboards that were either warped, heat damaged, chipped or otherwise impossible to skate. Garlock got the idea to use them as canvases when he thought about how creative so many of his colleagues were. “Originally it was just staff,” he says, explaining that most employees started art projects after work. But he also thought of “super talented people who are just our friends,” he adds. Casting his net to the wider community brought the art exhibit to life.

Artist and illustrator himself, Garlock launched a call for artists on her instagram to see if anyone else in the community would be interested in contributing. The idea snowballed as more people responded, and soon Garlock had to find more boards and act as a community organizer. “Denver isn’t the biggest city,” he says, “but there’s so many different people who are super talented, super interesting, doing a lot of cool stuff, and they were really looking forward to participating in that. ”

Almost all performing artists are involved or connected to the skating community in some way. “I don’t know if it could have worked in other places,” says Garlock. “But I think it’s because there are so many different outdoor public skate parks [in Colorado] and so much interest in skating, it fell into place pretty well.

Denver’s skateboarding community is an active and vibrant part of the city’s culture, and Square State Skate is a key player in its founding and growth. With locations in Denver and Boulder, Square State Skate makes skateboarding accessible to young people in these communities by partnering with various schools to offer physical education programs and after-school sessions, as well as private lessons and skate camps. one day skate. Its summer lineup also features a variety of summer camps, lessons and highly anticipated overnight camping trips, where skaters spend five days camping and skating together in mountain towns such as Gunnison, Breckenridge and Vail.

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Square State Skate works year-round to teach skateboarding to kids in grades three through eight.

Kyle Garlock

With an ever-growing team of instructors and program directors, Square State Skate works year-round to teach skateboarding to kids in grades three through eight, covering the fundamentals from standing on a board to to falling and learning tricks. “A lot of these kids have an idea of ​​what they want from skating,” says Garlock. “[They] come in and are focused in a certain way…where they’re like, “I saw three clips on Instagram, I want to learn this stuff,” and they slow down and they analyze it. It’s cool. They go far.

Square State Skate also offers programs for adults, like private lessons and its “adult swim” sessions at the Boulder location. And recently, instructors have loved seeing parents come to classes with their kids and watch the kids cheer on their parents. “These are some of the best times when the child teaches the parent,” says Garlock.

While the Boulder SquareHouse has been operating since 2010, the Plank Canvas Art Show will be one of its first major events in Denver, which opened in the spring of 2021. It’s a community that’s only five to fifteen years old,” says Garlock. He hopes that this show will be an opportunity for the whole skate community to get together and have a good time. “It’s an event for everyone,” he promises.

It is certain that there will be a wide variety of original artwork in different mediums at the show. Most will come as a surprise, but some standout pieces include an oil painting and gold leaf of Erin Jonesphotography by Ted Heronacrylic and latex paint Blake HollandIntricate Sharpie art by Eric J. Eckert and a mixed media paper collage with acrylic paint by jessie lemon. Another exciting feature will be a piece by a street performer Chris Havenwhose iconic work you can see all over Denver.

Although the event is free, all participating artists have the opportunity to sell their board during the show, and 100% of the profits will go directly to them. They are also welcome to bring any other artwork and merchandise they wish to show off, so there will be a whole section of other original artwork alongside the skateboard decks.

“I’m excited to just see the range…because none of [the art] even looks like it from a distance,” says Garlock. “A bit like skating, [art can be] so different from how you interpret it. Some people like big transition skating, some people like freestyle, some people like mini ramp. You can take it in any direction. It’s what you want it to be. With skateboarding and art, no one will tell me to do it or not to do it, or how to do it. And strangely, it motivates you even more to do it.

Plank Canvas Art Exhibition7-10 p.m. Saturday, May 14, Denver SquareHouse, 4321 Broadway, #4, 720-441-4047.

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