Visual Arts

"Hit the Deck" Show Brings Skateboard Art Back to First Friday in Downtown Phoenix

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And then there's the fact that skateboarding has always had a presence at First Friday over the years. There always seems to be more than a few skaters out at the monthly event, particularly during the summertime. Plus, Red Bull even brought a few skating events to Roosevelt Row in the past, including its Triple Set competition in October 2011.

Skateboard art has occasionally been featured in the galleries of downtown Phoenix as well, like the series of Deck exhibitions that were put on from 2006 to 2008 by Kenneth Richardson and Mike Goodwin, also known as the Molten Brothers, at venues like the Icehouse, Bragg's Pie Factory, and monOrchid.

And Bates, who's friends with Richardson, was one of thousands of people who checked out the Deck showcases. He says they not only made a definite impact on him, but also provided partial inspiration for "Hit the Deck," which he's organizing with fellow painter Joe Dragt.

"I was way younger at the time, still this little punk kid," Bates says. "And I'd never seen anything like that before and haven't, so far, seen anything since."

Until this Friday, however.

"It's been in my head to do a show like this for quite some time," Bates says. "I've been telling people about it and getting people interested in it for a whole year and it finally escalated to getting a venue and finally doing it."

Like the Molten Brothers, Bates and Dragt recruited artists to use ordinary skateboards as media for paintings and design work. And the results, they says, were quite fantastic.

"There's some grafitti and some cartoon characters that were used," Bates says. "There's just a whole array of different styles are going to be there. Most of them are skaters themselves that still go out and ride."

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Benjamin Leatherman is a staff writer at Phoenix New Times. He covers local nightlife, music, culture, geekery, and fringe pursuits.