Nicole Delamotte

Art on Deck: Cleveland's Skateboarding Community Gets Another Push from Breakneck Gallery

Written by Nicole Delamotte.

Starting this month, I'll be contributing to the Cellar Door Records blog as a staff writer! For my first post, I talked to Kristen and Sean of Lakewood's Breakneck Art about the gallery's new skateboard deck art show. The idea for the show was inspired by Public Square Group, non-profit Cleveland pro-skate advocates that emphasizes the benefits of civic engagements and the arts among the skateboard community.

Published June 22 on CellarDoorCLE.

2012 very well may be the year of the skateboard in Cleveland. With the onslaught of recent and well-deserved press for pro-skate renegades Public Square Group, the conversation about a culture in transit — pedestrians, cyclists and boarders living harmoniously in the city — has become an art in its own right.

Kristen Burns, co-owner of alternative art spot Breakneck Gallery, heard about Public Square Group while working her part-time gig at the Spitfire Saloon where her boss is on the organization’s board. Former skaters themselves, Kristin and Breakneck partner Sean Burns wanted to get involved with PSG’s support for civic engagement and the arts in the skate community. “We both skated as kids,” Kristen explains, “and what PSG does for kids skating now is awesome. They’re a really great group.” Breakneck put out a call to local artists to experiment with skate decks as their canvass, a show appropriately titled Art Deck-O.

Art Deck-O takes the long-standing love affair of art and the deck displayed on sidewalks and half-pipes and puts it right on the walls of one of the west side’s most assessable galleries. “We both feel the skateboarding culture and art go hand-in-hand,” Kristen says, “especially when it comes to the decks.”

Kristen and Sean recognize skate art is no new concept – these days, decks double as home décor. But they also know the free-form individuality and off-the-cuff creativity that has always intertwined within the art of the sport also mirrors the art of the deck: “It’s amazing to see where different artists will go when they all start from the same simple piece of wood.”

Art Deck-O runs from June 16 to July 6. For gallery hours visit Breakneck Gallery’s website.

Jason Tilk, The Yoyo Syndicate/Dr. Sketchy Cleveland/Pinch and Squeal

Jason Tilk met Breakneck co-owner Sean Burns at a Cleveland Institute of Art alumni meeting. “I heard he was doing a skate deck show,” Jason explains, “and I jumped on the opportunity to submit to it. I have always had a passion for skateboarding since I was a kid skating on an old Christian Hosoi hammerhead. Being an artist and designer, I thought it would be great to finally take a stab at designing my own.”

One half of a traveling Cleveland vaudeville act – he’s the Pinch of Pinch and Squeal – Tilk drew on the artistry of magic’s folklore for his deck. “I read a lot of old magic books and have always loved the illustrations and poster art for magic acts,” says Tilk. “So thinking about what would make a sweet illustration I came up with the idea to make a ‘trick deck’, playing off of playing card tricks and skate tricks.”

Angela Oster, Illustrator

Angela Oster, a Cleveland illustrator with two decks in the show, decided to take part in Art Deck-O when fellow artists James Giar offered to sand down a board for her. “I grew up in Parma and spent a lot of time in the basement of Doc’s Shake Shop listening to skate bands practice,” she says. “I had never painted on decks before but I had seen some that the artist Fafi had done, so I was excited to translate some of my drawings to that elongated format.”

Weapons of Mass Creation Fest: Blog + Interview Excerpts (cont.)

Written by Nicole Delamotte.

These are a couple more of my favorite interviews from this year's Weapons of Mass Creation Fest. You can read all of the music interviews here. (Click continue reading to see a few more)

 

Annabel

Under layers of nostalgia that create their rich, shoegaze landscapes, Annabel’s roots in pop-punk give way to a sound that is at the same time complex and energetic, dreamlike and aggressive.

ESQ (Esquire Mackentyre)

Part new school polished style, confidence and swagger, part old school soul and gritty, lyric-driven storytelling. A renegade of Cleveland’s indie hip-hop scene, Esquire Mackentyre aka ESQ flows effortlessly between spitting over blues-drenched back tracks to spacey electro beats that pick up where N.E.R.D. left off.

Signals Midwest

Born out of Cleveland, Ohio, Signals Midwest has been gaining non-stop momentum for transcending the pop-punk realm with their sophomore effort, Latitudes & Longitudes. It’s not just their knack for writing unforgettable riffs, what knocks you out is the uncommonly personal lyrics that made Latitudes & Longitudes one of the most powerful albums of the year.

 

INTERVIEW: Legendary DJ Rob Sherwood to Spin for Bal Ingenieux

Written by Nicole Delamotte.

An interview with Rob Sherwood, the original king pin of Cleveland nightlife and DJ at IngenuityFest's Bal Ingenieux fundraiser.

“This is the first time I’ve had the opportunity to play every genre I’ve ever played all in one night. I really am excited about that. I keep telling people the coolest thing about what I’m going to do here is that it’s going to be everything. And I don’t think I’ve ever had a gig where I could do that.”

Rob Sherwood is learning back on the plush red stairs of a room tucked away in the Halcyon Lodge; a glare reflects off his glasses as he angles his camera phone, one eye squinted with a furrowed brow that reminds anyone in his presence: he is a man of his craft. He snaps photos of the room he’ll be DJing in for Bal Ingenieux to send to Ben Sota, artistic director of the folk art acrobatic troupe Zany Umbrella Circus, who he plans to collaborate with for a mix of sound and visuals at the fundraiser.

Sitting feet away from pillars that connect ceiling to stairs, the space mirrors Sherwood’s stories of spinning at the hot spots like Aquilon that made him a legend of Cleveland nightlife. “There was a 19-piece big band, old people in tuxedos and hipsters dressed to the nines until the freight elevator doors opened and the kids poured in,” he says. “It was the coolest mix.” He speaks with the most affection about the alternative scene that was the Nine of Clubs but even when recounting one of his most decadent residencies, U4IA, he remarks, “It was a time everyone could do their own thing and not step on anyone’s toes. That was every club I did. It was just really inclusive; people came to look at freaky but not to pick on it, or make fun of it, or cause trouble.”

“That was every club I did.. people came to look at freaky but not to pick on it, or make fun of it, or cause trouble."

It’s in the midst of relaying his memories of throwing the city’s first raves and the excess, lavish and luxury that his face breaks into a coy half-smile and he says, “But the people who came to support me on a funky Tuesday night were ten times as cool as the people who came to the Saturday night party that was the big thing.” If the Kokoon Arts Club that Bal Ingenieux is inspired by marked a turn-of-the-century bohemian art community, Sherwood may have been their reincarnated hero of the new wave underground.

Sherwood left to pursue his career in New York and will tell you with a laugh that he came back to Cleveland on accident. “I went to New York and lived every single DJ dream I ever had,” he recalls, “All of my heroes were coming out of the studio at night saying, ‘I just cut a disc, I want you to play it’ – my heroes. Not just some guys, my DJ and producer heroes. Every club I ever dreamed of wanting to work at, I worked at.”

If the Kokoon Arts Club that Bal Ingenieux is inspired by marked a turn-of-the-century bohemian art community, Sherwood may have been their reincarnated hero of the new-wave underground.

Even for someone who made a name for himself in a culture based on breaking rules, in true DJ form Sherwood’s greatest excitement about Bal Ingenieux is having no restrictions, no rules or style guidelines to what he has to play. “This is the first time I’ve had the opportunity to play every genre I’ve ever played all in one night. I really am excited about that. I keep telling people the coolest thing about what I’m going to do here is that it’s going to be everything. And I don’t think I’ve ever had a gig where I could do that.”

Rob Sherwood DJs Bal Ingenieux, May 4 at the Halcyon Lodge, from 9:30 P.M. until 1 A.M.