"Hit the Deck" Show Brings Skateboard Art Back to First Friday in Downtown Phoenix
Artist Kevin Bates admits he was never much of a skate trickster. He may have ridden a board around during his high school days and hung out with grinders, but didn't pull off much in the way of epic kickflips or pole jams. Truth be told, he was more into skater art and culture than anything else.
Courtesy of the Artists The boards of Hit the Deck (from left): Art by David Morgan, Travis Troy, Kevin Bates, Ryan Michael, and Joe Dragt.
"I never went all crazy with my board or nothing," Bates says. "I basically sucked, but I liked the whole scene and I loved all the artwork that was on the decks." This fervent lifelong affinity for skater culture is one of the reasons why the 24-year-old painter decided to organize "Hit the Deck," an exhibition that opens Friday, July 5, at the Phoenix Art Spaces.
The month-long showcase, which is on display through the end of July at the smallish gallery inside vegan eatery Aside of Heart, will feature 30-plus skateboard decks (sans wheels and trucks) that were used as canvases by more than two-dozen local artists.
Customized and decorated decks have always been a big thing in the skater world, as artists and graphic designers like Neckface, Jimbo Phillips, and Michael Sieben are famous for creating board art for manufacturers and publications like Thrasher.
Bates says that he's been a fan of skateboard artists and their creations for companies like Zero Skateboards or Hook-Ups.
"In high school, I'd always get copies of the CCS magazine and check out at all the boards," he says.
Many of the artists involved in Hit the Deck, Bates explains, either share this fandom for board art or are skaters themselves. Others were down with turning one of the rectangular wooden boards into a piece of unique artwork.