Skate or Die | Kevin Skibba Decks

April 21, 2010 · Print This Article

Typically I would not post something like this but I just could not help myself. If you personally know me or read the blog regularly you probably know that I not only grew up in the Southern California but also posses a lot of SoCal pride. I was not a huge skateboarder  but my sister and I could be found on a board often enough. Our garage housed discarded boards from my familie’s childhood. Some with clay wheels and my mom’s G&S was still being ridden by my sister until a few years ago when it broke. Anyways, for the past couple of years my sister and I have been sending each other our picks for what board we would like to cruise around on in the summer time and I think I just found the ultimate pick. This morning A Time To Get posted some boards designed by Kevin Skibba. Just look at how fucking awesome these are!  I love that the designs reference Big Daddy Roth and sport Cadillac Wheels. Thalia Surf Shop is selling the boards and has an interview with Kevin.

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via Thalia Surf Shop:

Can you describe the process that goes into making a board?
The boards have to ride as good as they look. That being said, it usually starts with a shape that I think might work. I’ll make a template, then a prototype and see how it rides. If it lags I’ll scrap it, if it works then it goes in the lineup. The actual procedure is pretty standard to any other skateboard manufacturer except it’s just me making them. I do get a little creative with the paint and finish. The Gremmie image is made of rice paper and some of the grip on the deck is actually sugar I add in the clear coat, so there’s still a lot of surf influence to the overall finished product.

What inspires you to go about it that way? In fact, what inspired you in the first place to make Gremmie a real thing?
I think the inspiration comes from years of loving and being around the Southern California surf scene and a strong skateboarding background. I think the actual inspiration to build the boards came a couple of years ago. I spent a couple months working on a boat in Hawaii. Nobody that worked on the boat had cars, everyone got around on a bike or a skate. The kids always gravitated to the longer cruiser boards. To me, they just didn’t work well in crowded sidewalk situations. I wanted to turn hard and quick, just go around people like slalom cones and I couldn’t do that on the cruiser boards. The response was slow and the boards to me were cumbersome. Don’t get me wrong, they have their place, they just didn’t work for the style of skating I was after. In the end, the inspiration came from being around a lot more shapers than skateboard builders, so when I first started constructing them they were critiqued pretty hard by some pretty heavy shapers.




NYC Recap | American Museum of Natural History

April 20, 2010 · Print This Article

After our show at apexart opened and Jeffery Deitch and Carlo McCormick’s talk were all over, my girlfriend, Gracen, and I had Friday to try and catch as many museums, galleries, and bookstores (mainly Printed Matter) as possible. Gracen works for the Field Museum in Chicago in the Insect Division, where she spends most of her days dis-articulating beetles. When she found out we were going to be in New York, she contacted the American Museum of Natural History to see if we could get a behind the scenes tour of their collections. Dr. Lee Herman was kind enough to show us around his office and pull a couple of specimens out for us. Since Gracen and I could not settle on what images to use or who was best suited to discuss this (she’s shy) we will be tag teaming this post. All of Gracen’s comments will appear in purple.

Although curatorial practices are generally  standardized, there can still be some variations in how an individual curator organizes their collection. The American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) is well known for many of their collections, which I was looking forward to checking out. The museum houses the most important research collection of insects fossilized in amber, containing the oldest known amber dating back to the Cretaceous period (circa 145.5 to 65.5million years ago) and the largest spider (Araneae) collection in the world. The museum houses Alfred Kinsey‘s (that’s right – the sex dude) entire gall wasp collection, which he studied for his doctoral thesis. With so many renowned specimens, we asked Lee to show us some of his favorites.

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Overlooking Central Park West, Lee’s office was a well sized work and reading space. When asked if the museum had a private library Lee replied, “this is it” as he gestured towards his bookshelves. Unfortunately I did not get a chance to take photographs of some drawings he had completed on female genital that felt like an older generation of draftsmanship that he still maintained.  As Gracen and him talked shop I glanced around the room; old maps, toys and stack of papers were small mounds in neat stacks around his desk. Read more




Tuesday’s Video Pick | Liam Stevens

April 20, 2010 · Print This Article

This week’s pick is a Liam Stevens’ stop motion animation for My Robot Friend’s single “Waiting”.  (via KK*)




Bad at Sports Hosts Cabinet of Curiosities Tuesday Night at MCA

April 19, 2010 · Print This Article

Photo by Greg Stimac

Tuesday April 20th (tomorrow!) at 6pm Bad at Sports hosts this month’s Cabinet of Curiosities at the MCA, an ongoing “grab bag of ‘un-lectures'” presented by different groups from around Chicago. Bad at Sports has curated an evening on the subject of Magic. Stephanie Brooks will speak on the Magic of Language and Love. Industry of the Ordinary (Mat Wilson and Adam Brooks) will explore the magical through an investigation of God, football, and extra-marital conduct. Elijah Burgher will give a talk on Sigil Magic, a system of spell-casting outlined by early 20th century occultist, Austin Osman Spare, and popularized more recently in occult movements such as Chaos Magick and Thee Temple of Psychic Youth. Ross Moreno will perform magic! And John Neff and Ivan Lozano will explicate the magic of materialist magic – presented immaterially.

Participant Bios:

Stephanie Brooks is a conceptual artist living in Chicago.  She has exhibited her work nationally and internationally including exhibits in Berlin, Brooklyn, Chicago, Denmark, London, Los Angeles, New York, Vienna, and Phoenix, AZ.  She is an adjunct professor in the Sculpture department at The School of the Art Institute. Her work is included in the collections of Whitney Museum of American Art, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, Microsoft Corporation, and Philip Morris/Altria. Her recent publication “Love is A Certain Kind of Flower” is published by Green Lantern Press; and upcoming exhibitions include Peter Blum, New York and Portable, Atlanta.

Industry of the Ordinary were formed in 2003. The two artists who make up this collaborative team, Adam Brooks and Mathew Wilson, have long histories as visual and performative artists. They bring complementary sensibilities to their activities.Their projects exist in temporal terms but have also been conceived to function on the web site associated with the collaboration, www.industryoftheordinary.com. They have had solo shows at the MCA and NEIU Gallery and performed at the opening of the Modern Wing of the Art Institute, as well as making work for a wide variety of private, semi-private and public settings. They will have a survey of their practice at the Chicago Cultural Center in 2011.

Elijah Burgher is an artist and writer based in Chicago, IL.  He has most recently exhibited in a solo show at Shane Campbell Gallery in Oak Park, IL and a two-person exhibition at Peregrine Program in Chicago, IL.  He will exhibit work in group shows at Johalla Projects in Chicago and Envoy Enterprises in New York this summer.  He maintains a hybrid studio wall/magick diary blog at http://ghostvomit.blogspot.com/.  Burgher co-founded and co-edited the now-defunct art publication BAT.  He has written reviews and essays for ArtUS and several small art publications in Chicago, as well as contributed writing to Art:21’s guest blog.  He received an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2004, and a BA from Sarah Lawrence college in 2000, where he split his credits amongst Literature, Visual Art, and Cultural Anthropology.

Ross Moreno earned a master’s degree in sculpture from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2005. It was during this time he developed a passion for hotdogs, and he has been living and working professionally in Chicago ever since. Ross’ is a member of the Chicago Chapter of the Society of American Magicians and recently completed the International House of Pancakes Balloon Twisting Training Program. Ross can be seen performing his unique blend of performance art, stand-up comedy, and magic at different venues all over the city. More information about Ross can be found by visiting his website at www.rossmoreno.com.

John Neff produces works of art, organizes exhibitions and practices critical writing. He lives and works in Chicago.

Ivan Lozano is a (mostly) video artist currently working on an MFA in Film/Video/New Media at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. In another life, while living in Austin TX, Ivan was the programming director for the Cinematexas International Short Film Festival, and an arts writer for various publications.




A Report on The Gesture Guild

April 19, 2010 · Print This Article

Irena Knezevic is a young Serbian artist living in Chicago. Before leaving Serbia, she was a student organizer rallying against Slobodon Milosovic’s government (1). She moved to Chicago after receiving a scholarship to attend college, where she studied mathematics but later switched to art. She studied at the University of Illinois at Chicago and earned an MFA there in 2007.  In 2008, she had a solo exhibition at the MCA Chicago as part of its 12×12 series. That show, like much of Knezevic’s work, examined “the search for knowledge and the dangerous avenues through which people seek and receive it,” according to the press release.

Knezevic’s current solo show at threeewalls, titled Gesture Guild, closed last weekend. Since Knezevic’s installation had the (fairly unusual) ability to leave me at a loss for words, I’ll rely on the show’s press release to describe it:

FOLLOW ME SAILORS!
WHOEVER TOLD YOU THERE IS NO
TRUE,
FAITHFUL
AND ETERNAL SEA?
MAY HIS BLISTERING TONGUE BE CUT OUT
AND SEWN SHIT WITH SHIT!
FOLLOW ME, MY SAILORS, AND ONLY ME,
AND I WILL SHOW YOU SUCH A SEA! (2)

Friday, March 19th at 6 pm sharp, the Gesture Guild will open its doors at its new headquarters at 119 N Peoria in unit 2C. Join us at 8 pm for the commencement dirge, absinthe induced and sailor sung. (Ed. note: Sailor attire is strongly encouraged, those who do not arrive as sailors will be made into sailors.)
The League of Dark Departments have joined forces in the Gesture Guild, a bureau for the recovery and acquisition of lost gestures. The Gesture Guild aims to return and reinforce the primordial anxieties responsible for head-bending weight and other liquid spiraling disasters, topical and tropical.
The public, inflicted with involuntary movement, nervous twitches, and ticks, due to the loss of solid surfaces and time-space incongruity, can join various Guild programs in search of gravitational re-calibration.
Determined via a brief questionnaire, members of the public are initiated into the Guild, thus participating in prescribed Guild activities at individually appointed times.
Throughout the exhibition the Guild will change weekly – please return for:
- Duplicate Office of the Dead
- Department of Repetition
- Department of Manual Re-Education
- Department of Polychoral Antiphony
- Department of Trade Secrets
- Department of Denial Operations and Barriers

So, yeah.

On the night I went to see Knezevic give an artist’s talk at threewalls, held in conjunction with this exhibition, I was feeling especially lazy. I didn’t want to do much more than lean back on my wobbly wooden folding chair and let Ms. Knezevic do all the talking while my own mind drifted desultorily from one thought to another, as my mind is wont to do.

Alas, this was not meant to be. I should have known that Knezevic wouldn’t let me off the hook that easily, given her history of crafting installations and other situation-based events that challenge linear paths of understanding. There’s a strong sense of the cryptic and the mysterious and even at times the dangerous surrounding all of her projects–the secret society-like Gesture Guild, sponsored by something called “The League of Dark Departments”(3), being no exception. Since I’m a girl who likes a good mystery I set out to discover for myself what membership in The Guild would actually entail. Knezevic’s  talk seemed as good a place as any to start.

Knezevic, seated behind a big wooden kiosk of the sort you might encounter at the Department of Motor Vehicles or the post office, asked everyone arriving for the talk if they wanted to fill out a card (like this one) in order to be initiated into The Gesture Guild. Knezevic herself projected a warm and friendly persona which was not at all off-putting–the polar opposite of the type of bureaucratic interpersonal discourse that the desk kiosk signified. Knezevic directed me to the adjacent gallery space in the room next door where the talk would take place. Clutching my pen, clipboard and sign-up sheet, I was the first to head to the next room. Rounding the corner, I came face to face (give or take a couple of feet) with a man in a black ski mask who was bending over. He may have been tying his shoes. He was also wearing a sailor suit.

The sailor scared the crap out of me, just for a second.  I quickly regained my composure after realizing he was one of the performers, but what can I say? I walk into a darkened, nearly empty room by myself, I see a guy wearing a ski mask– yeah, I flinch!  I took my seat, and not too long after that the talk commenced. Two masked performers, one of which was the aforementioned sailor-suited man, seated themselves at a table in front of the audience. The performer designated as “The Scribe” wore the sailor suit, while Knezevic, who appeared here in the guise of an all-knowing Oracle, wore a glittery black ski mask and a nondescript outfit that may or may not have included black leggings.

The Oracle informed us that the talk would proceed in the form of a Q&A. (4) Audience members could ask any question they wanted to, and they could direct their questions to the Oracle or the Scribe or to both. We could ask as many questions as we liked but were required to ask at least one. The Scribe would select the next questioner by pointing at him or her with a long stick that had a small heart-shaped spear at the end (the stick reminded me of Satan’s tail, except that it was straight, not curved). It was also the Scribe’s job to record all of the questions and answers in a huge notebook resting between the two performers (5).

The Sailor/Scribe began by reading a quote from a notebook in front of him on the table (6), however, the subject of that quote I cannot for the life of me now recall. After this, the audience questions began. Here are some of the questions asked, and the answers given, during the event (please note: I am paraphrasing all of the below based on my notes and memory, and I make no guarantees of accuracy or authenticity):

Questioner: What is an appropriate gesture for expressing joy, thanks, and grief?

Oracle: Jumping up and down.

Questioner: For all three?

Oracle: Yes.

****

Questioner: Should I buy a banjo?

Oracle: Depends on what you want the banjo for. What do you want it for?

Questioner: To play it.

Oracle: Then no.

****

Questioner (to the Scribe): What happened to the decapitated head (lying on a chair in the next room)?

Scribe: Loss is something on which we fixate instead of what is happening now.

****

Questioner: What is the question that you cannot answer?

Oracle: One where I lose my hands.

Questioner: When will you lose your hands?

Oracle: With too much repetition.

****

Questioner: What can you make out of chaos?

Oracle: Feelings.

****

One of the questions whose answer I failed to write down was ‘Do you think the critique of instrumental reason has run its course?… Is it useful for us to spend our time still critiquing humanism?’ One of the answers whose question I failed to write down was delivered in the form of song sung by the Oracle:

“When you’re sad and feeling lonely, just remember my friend, that death is not the end…”

The scribe requested that The Oracle repeat her answer one more time so he could write it down. She obliged, and sung,

‘When you’re sad and feeling lonely, just remember my friend, that death is the end….”

It seemed clear that Knezevic was trying to provide answers to questions of Cosmic breadth and humanistic depth in as straightforward and genuine a fashion as possible, that this was indeed an attempt on the artist’s part to establish a meaningful channel of communication between herself and her audience. I don’t believe that it was performed ironically (which is why I myself cared enough to write about it) and yet, that being said, I must also admit that I wasn’t all that interested in what the Oracle had to say. After all, why should the Oracle/Artist’s answers to “the Big Questions” be any more interesting than anyone else’s? Nevertheless, as the talk progressed, the Oracle and the Scribe seemed to get into an almost magical sort of groove, hitting their marks with uncanny sharpness and accuracy.  I wouldn’t deny that there was something there, some type of knowledge (if not wisdom) in the process of being conjured. Maybe it was just the Magic 8 ball kind of knowledge, maybe it was something more, something having to do with human empathy and the ability of the Scribe and the Oracle to feed off the combined energies of the group.

And then there’s the matter of the masks. The masks hid the performers noses and cheeks and pretty much all of the face other than the eyes and mouth. But they highlighted each of the performers’ mouths in a manner that I found mesmerizing and strangely significant. Especially in the case of the Oracle/Artist. Knezevic’s lips kind of naturally turn up at the corners, which makes her look as if she’s always laughing just a teeny little bit. It is an extremely charming quality. Knezevic’s upturned mouth, which the ski mask neatly abstracted from the rest of her face in the manner of the Cheshire Cat’s bodiless grin, perfectly encapsulated the nonsensical logic of the evening’s event: You can find answers anywhere, anywhere…as long as you’re willing to look, listen, and consider everything surrounding you as a sign. (7)

Alice: Oh wait!
Cheshire Cat: [reappears] There you are! Third chorus…
Alice: Oh, no, no. I was just wondering if you could help me find my way.
Cheshire Cat: Well that depends on where you want to get to.
Alice: Oh, it really doesn’t matter, as long as…
Cheshire Cat: Then it really doesn’t matter which way you go.

*****************************************************************

An interview with Irena Knezevic, by way of footnotes.

(1) Can you tell me about your experiences in the student protest movement? I organized the gymnasium students and did the pamphlet printing and dissemination, most days I would help keep the student radio broadcast station from being shut down by moving it around the city, and I marched daily.

(2) What is the source of this quote? Mikhail Bulgakov’s Master and Margarita, describing a love of a woman for a man.

(3) Who/what is the League of Dark Departments? League of Dark Departments is an overlord of secret Masonic organizations, it only knows all the lists of members and complete list of lodges. How many members, approximately? The Dark department can confirm that the Gesture guild has a 198 members.

(4) Why did you choose this format? See the question on the book; I chose the format because I wanted the talk to be in the pace of the scribe’s hand.  He was to write it all down in the Ledger, stopping and starting the talk in the speed of his pen.  I also employ the audience as the main protagonists during all my “art talks” because I am bored as well by silence, predictability and overall boredom of click, click, click, powerpoint, does anybody have any questions?

(5) Did the notebook have some kind of official name and/or function? The note book is the official Gesture Guild LEDGER, it lists all appointments, members, black lists, plans and programs, and corresponding scores including the talk, the Guild determined all the initiations in advance and the space in the ledger was allotted for every one.

What are the ‘black lists’ you refer to? You mean like, black-listed people? Or verboten subjects? Naturally this kind of work, like a manifesto, has supporters, soon to be supporters and enemies.  The black list is a collection of enemies.  People who have betrayed an oath, or who stand against the ideals of the Guild.  The list is secret, of course.

(6) Where did the scribe’s texts come from? The scribe holds the discretion of this answer.

(7) How can people find out more about The Guild? The guild endures online until it reconstitutes in 7 years.