During the month of November ’98, Philadelphia’s Space 1026 hosted Ed Templeton’s second solo show, RETARDED. The opening reception was delightfully crowded beyond comfort with intellects, skateboarders, and art fagians hobbing and nobbing, while eating vegan cookies and taking in the raw beauty of Ed’s paintings and the vivid reality of his photos.
The evening before the opening, I interviewed Ed and his wife Deanna in Adam Wallacavage’s Parlor at the Space. Read and learn, you suckers.
A.J.W.: When did you realize you wanted to become serious about art?
Ed: It was in 1990, I had turned pro for New Deal and was sent to Europe to do the contests over there. I had all this free time while I was there because the guys I was with all went to bars drinking every night. I wasn’t into that, so I spent my time looking around, getting lost in the cities, and going to museums. I came home from that trip inspired to paint.
Do you remember your first painting?
Yeah, Andy Howell has it. It’s a portrait of a girl. I think it’s cruddy, and I wish he would burn it, but he says he’s going to keep it.
Do you feel you are lacking, because you don’t have a formal art education?
Well, yes and no. I lack the skills to do what I want at times. I probably could learn some of these skills in art school. Sometimes I see an effect in other paintings that I’d like to achieve but don’t know how to do it. And I figure it’d be fun to go to school and be immersed in art, but then on the other hand, I figure I could discover how to do certain things on my own. I may invent my own way of doing it and then my work will be more original.
When did photography start to become a larger part of what you are doing?
In late ’95, I started to perceive photography as its own art. Being someone who has been on lots of skate tours with younger skaters for whom touring is still new, I decided to start documenting their lives. They have some money, they’re away from home, and they just go out and have fun – they drink, and smoke, and skate, and do crazy stuff, and hook up, and have all these new experiences; so I decided to capture it.
What makes you happy?
Having a good skateboard session – skating good, watching friends skate good. I get happy finishing a painting. I get happy the moment I take a photograph I think is going to be good.
When Ed comes crying to you, Deanna, what is he crying about?
Deanna: He fears getting old. He fears the passing of time.
Ed: Yeah, that’s true. I stress on the fact that at some point I’m not going to be able to be a pro skateboarder anymore, which has given me my whole life. It’s given me freedom to do what I want. Deanna mentioned that, ’cause she sees me worrying about it, and how when I slam I can’t get up as fast.
He’s gotten better though, he doesn’t cry on his birthday, anymore.
I don’t cry on my birthday … maybe one time.
Deanna, how do you feel about being the object of more than half of Ed’s art?
I like it. I don’t mean to sound lame, but I’d rather he paint me than some other girl.
Do you like all of Ed’s work?
About 95 percent of it. There’s five percent I don’t agree with, and we discuss it, and I try to figure out why he does some of what he does.
Ed, do you feel an obligation to the youth?
Yeah, I totally do. I’ve always felt an obligation to them. I take being a pro skateboarder very seriously. When I’m in skate magazines, which a lot of kids read, I mention that I don’t do drugs. Most of the skate culture does drugs. I offer myself as an example that drugs aren’t necessary in life. I think about how when I was young I’d see Mark Gonzales, Neil Blender, and Chris Miller in the magazines, and how each month they’d do something with a certain style, something different – drawings on their griptape, or a strange trick. That stuff really inspired me. I hope to be an extension of what they did, making sskateboarding a really interesting, cool thing to be a part of.
Is your art meant for all ages?
Well, some of the photos are of a sexual nature, and I wouldn’t recommend that kids see them – they may not be ready for it. I don’t want to raise issues in their minds that they aren’t prepared to question. Art galleries are different settings than if I were to show some art as part of a skate demo. I wouldn’t impose any of my more discussion-oriented images on kids. And none of what I’m doing is meant for getting off to – that’s not why I document my sex life.
Is there a driving philosophy behind your art?
At this point, the basic need for communication is the main objective. I document things with my camera; I make paintings simply to communicate ideas and experiences. I’m just trying to communicate, and that’s it right now.