Snowboarders are no longer the punk-rockers of the slopes. Everybody and their granny can identify the top five vert skateboarders in the world. And pro surfers can actually make a respectable living. Why is that? Thank the X-Games, MTV Sports, The Warped Tour¿thank the Internet and its barrage of sites that further legitimize once marginal lifestyles. Thank the asshole who invented the word “extreme sports” and helped to turn it into a marketing blitz for another profanity, “Gen Y.”
But whatever forces turned our little clique into a part of the mainstream, a glimpse into what really makes it special can still be seen where J Street and Tenth Avenue intersect in downtown San Diego through September 22, 2000. Turns out board-sport culture isn’t so much about being a yee-haw daredevil¿all along what really matters to the movers and shakers of skateboarding, and admittedly to a lesser degree snowboarding and surfing, is how creative you are.
Widely ignored by the media and “legitimate” hoity-toity art circles is a talented group of graphic artists, fine artists, photographers, filmmakers, sculptors, animators, and mixed-media artists who admire, provoke, and encourage each other along the way. For the third year in a row, Mona Mukherjea and Shaney Jo Darden have created Modart, a venue for all the creativity board-sports culture offers.
This year the Modart .9.2000 opening event (held in conjunction with the first day of the nearby Action Sports Retailer trade show at the San Diego Convention Center) was again at the Reincarnation Building¿a hulking shell of walls and loft space with a huge, inviting outdoor patio area and stage. The festivities kicked off at 7:00 p.m. on September 8 with an artists’ reception, where it became clear why such a gigantic space is needed¿more than 130 artists have works exhibited at the show.
“Who are these chicks?” I heard someone mutter upon entering the patio area and spotting a woman clad in a chiffon fantasy outfit, another gal done up all mermaid-style with seashell bra and a gossamer tail, and a third young lady with a cocktail dress made of rags and STANCE magazine stickers. STANCE mag staffers, in a fit of brilliance, approached fledgling designers at San Diego’s Fashion Careers of California design school to create outfits for the show. The gals (and a couple brave outré guys) modeled their fashions amidst the art hanging on the walls.
And although 130 artists and their many featured works are way too numerous to mention in this space, here are two handfuls or so of notables: agit-polit graphic artist Gerardo Yepiz’s “Tontofono”; Amanda Ayala’s emergency airplane instructions turned graphic art, “Now You’re Fucked #2″; J.R. Yuransky’s huge geometric oil and acrylic portrait hanging by the bar; Damon Soule’s friendly phallic animal graphics; Mikey Basich’s almost photo-like abstracts; Lance and Cyril Mountain’s eerie, simplistic “The Don”; Rob Havassy’s “Autumn Oil On Canvas” of dancing dryads; Andy Jenkins brought back the beloved Lettus Be in book-like illustation “Ron Whaley’s Limen”; Heather Arndt’s beautiful ceramic-enevlope sculpture torso; Randy Janson’s “Too Late” nearly gynocological graphic art.
Modart also brought us the return of Scott Knecht’s Bigfoot multi-media series/obsession, this time with “Back On My Feet Again,” a Native American Bigfoot portrait, and even a packaged Bigfoot doll called “Mother Nature’s Action Figure.” Skate-art pioneer Mark Gonzales’ primitive trademark style was missing in his new cut-and-paste self-portrait and pencil drawing; Dave Kinsey’s oversized “Time Capsule Series” shows the subject’s slight decay from one portrait to the next; Capsule 9’s paintings resemble raggedy illustrations from an old book; Tina Basich’s “Holding On” portray’s a fantasy fairy in watercolor; Randy Laybourne’s intentionally mundane slices of life, “Crash” and “Dishes,” are nearly cinematic.
Shepard Fairey displayed a large wall of his striking graphic art on aluminum. Jose Gomez had one of the most creative entries¿he drew all over the wall and on red tape around his paintings, adding layer upon layer to his art. Ed Templeton decided to forego his paintings and instead show a wall of photos taken and printed over a period of many years. Caia Koopman’s big-eyed ingenues tread between whimsical and magical¿in full-spectrum colors and on narrow canvases. Brendan Casey’s “True Love” mixed media utilizes large window casings; Andrew Pommier’s shades of red add emotion to a charged painting of a dead sparrow with its heart impaled by a dagger. Scott Lenheardt’s work showcased a painstaking attention to detail, such as the steps from protozoa to spaceman in “The Evolution of Man” zinc etching, and his heartbreakingly lovely miniature nature oils.
Designer Paul Frank contributed a charmingly plotless animated video featuring his animal characters. Ben Brough’s vivid color abstracts, Jack Alger’s on-the-road photo series, and John Boyer’s Polaroid essay all infused simple works with additional meaning. TransWorld staffers and contributors Miki Vuckovich, Aaron Regan, Shem Roose, and Ted Newsome all had works in the show.
But art wasn’t all the party was about¿there was music (Teacher’s Pet, Bostich, DJ Damon Bell, DJ Ikah Love), a Tribal Film premiere, and a fashion show sponsored by many of the cooler clothing companies. A portion of the door charge went to the Boys and Girls club of Carlsbad. Modart is really a year-round happening, with a traveling version that tours with The Warped Tour. Be sure to check out what’s happening with Modart at modart.com. And rejoice that we’re more than just a demographic to sell soda to.