A "deck" is the part of the skateboard you stand on or leap up from in the course of apparently impossible maneuvers — like the midair spin called (of all things) "the impossible." Skating is sport, art form, lifestyle and obsession rolled into one defiant package, melding with pop subcultures and even flipping into alternative visual-art venues. Shows featuring deck décor have long been commonplace at hip coastal galleries.
On view at Lakewood's Pop Shop, the exhibit Deckwreckers marks the gallery's fourth anniversary and the opening of its new annex space "(Art)ificial." On display are more than 50 standard-size decks (like shoes, they vary according to the skater's feet, but roughly 8-inch-by-31-inch is average). The hardwood-ply boards are used as surfaces or supports for a wide range of styles, materials and messages.
The show was curated by American Greetings artist Keith Corcoran, a native of Brooklyn who ended up in Ohio four years ago following a decade in the Army. The Desert Storm veteran was a graffitti writer as a teenager but had no fine art training. When Uncle Sam figured out he could draw, they reclassified him; he spent the last few years of his stint as a Multimedia Division artist, doing renderings for four-star generals.
Deckwreckers is mostly a remix of a recent in-house show that Corcoran put together for American Greetings. The majority of the exhibit's artists are his coworkers, though a few New Yorkers and Los Angelinos slipped into the mix. Noted local and national artists on view include Chuck Wimmer, Bob Peck and pro-skater Mike Frazier, as well as Pop Shop owner Richard S. Cihlar. Most works are priced to sell, but California's Massa Homma "wrecked" a deck that's marked at $2,500 and, for the labor involved alone, ought to be worth its weight in platinum records. Homma's miniature replica of Eddie Van Halen's guitar is accurate down to details like scars and cigarette burns on its famous neck.
(Art)ificial's walls sport rebuilt boards that will never see another "ollie" performed on them, if only because there's nowhere left to put your feet. One includes a gas mask, another has been converted into what looks like a Victorian scientific instrument, with copper piping and a mysterious gauge. Then there's the black furry one with teeth; it's sort of cute, but I kept my distance. Glowering heavy-metalish designs, collaged gothic horror-film personalities and a painted, slightly goofy feminine vampire alternate with quaintly sweet, funky and overtly comic images, like a column of see-no/hear-no/speak-no evil monkeys in stocking caps, the last with duct tape X'ed over his mouth. On her website, participating artist Claire Mojher, who contributed a craft-oriented "Seaside Skatedeck" depicting a woman in antique bathing costume, says her own work involves a "mingling of the endearing and the dreadful" with a sense of humor. That describes Deckwreckers as a whole pretty well, and the energetic, death-defying, everything-goes pop culture that inspired this enjoyable show.