Heroes and Villians, mixed media on decks

May 23-June 28, 2003

Heroes and Villains, mixed media on decks curated by Jon Buscemi, Matt Sohl, Michelle Harb, and Jason Dill.

September 2003
by Melissa Gronlund
For this novel exhibition, the Dactyl Foundation invited a mixed bag of 50 skateboarders and artists to design plain wooden boards. Rather than the Chris Johansen/Barry McGee esthetic one might have expected, the surprisingly rich and varied grouping encompassed everything from heavy metal-esque Fraktur to graffiti tags to idiosyncratic self-portraits. Young males were clearly the dominant skateboarding demographic.

The subjects seemed lifted from the margins of math-class notebooks- favorites were figures from video games, sports teams, and comicbooks, and women with big breasts. Jamie Story’s O.J. depicted O.J. Simpson running down the football field with a red bullet hole in his helmet, while SSUR, a graffiti artist, silk-screened a pixilated image of a naked woman across four boards.

Aggressive posturing was fully in evidence- sample titles were High School Revenge Fantasy, Inner Conflict, and Chomp on This. For the arresting Bullets Can’t Stop Them, KENT painted his board as a target, shot at it, and then sprinkled the bullets on the floor. Some of the best boards were linked to street culture. As if drawing a tattoo, Tom Sachs burnt a likeness of the late rapper Notorious B.I.G. on the board’s polished surface. Erik Rossetti, Ray Mate, and Jon Buscemi likewise used theirs as eulogies, each commemorating Keenan Milton, a skateboarder who died in 2001.

A stand-out was GOOD’s How Long Did That Take You?, for which the skater and graffiti artist carved his board into a fearsome expression, resembling a Polynesian tribal mask with wheels. Another was actor Willem Dafoe’s quip on skateboarding’s maturity level. Channeling kindergarten arts and crafts, he contributed a board decorated with gold spray-painted macaroni.

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