A Big F****** Show in Plainview (F is for "Flipping")

Don Pendleton, Exsanguination and Worry on a Stormy Day

This Friday, the Contemporary Art Museum Plainview (CAMP) opened “The Big Flip: The Art of Skateboarding.” The roster in this exhibition is insanely good- the artists’ bios read like every emerging artist’s/illustrator’s bucket list: Juxtapose, Nike, MTV, Vans, Element, etc. Oh, and Don Pendleton won a Grammy. Name-dropping artists’ accomplishments is a strange way to start a critical review- but this is CAMP’s second show, and it’s a hell of one. Let’s just call this a photo essay, because I really only have nice things to say.

Aaron Hegert, "Transition Focus"

The exhibition catalogue emphasizes the intersections of subversion in capital-A art and skater culture, the “institution”, materiality, and the functionality of spaces. Aaron Hegert’s photo work deals with this directly in pared-down, reductive compositions. “Transition Focus” had me thinking (and Googling) a lot. As typical in Hegert’s work, it is up to the viewer to do a little research, but even that doesn’t explain anything, really. “Transition Focus” is a literal moment, I imagine, for a skater doing a trick, but it could also be referencing changing life stages, or difficult transitions for someone on the autism spectrum. Based on the companion piece, “Tranny,” it’s probably about gender, too. The visuals had me thinking about parking lots and how youths overtake whatever space they can find: whether it’s to show off skills on a homemade ramp or to fumble around in a back seat.

Lori Damiano, EBouilliart

Lori Damiano, Lord I: The Records Keeper, (Still)

Lori Damiano, through narrative in both her animation and her paintings, is working critically within skater culture. Her illustration “EBouilliart” is a parody of hyper-sexualization of women (who skates in heels, really?) with a painted-face, plumped-up blonde being chased by what one can only assume is a toothless fuckboi, as an athletic woman skates by with heavy side-eye. Witty, but the best quality of her work in the show resides in the quiet, cosmological diagrams in her gouaches and myth-like animation Lord I: The Records Keeper.

Michael Sieben

Jared Steffensen

Michael Sieben and Jared Steffensen, recreate or manipulate actual skateboard and ramp forms. As with any freestanding sculpture, these dictate how you move about the room, but they diverge from the norm in the fact that the ramps are begging to be jumped off, the wheels are asking to be spun.

Don Pendleton, The Spectre Over Your Shoulder

Don Pendleton is the prime example of what this show has to offer- the major task of pairing simplification and complexity in flat images. His work touches elemental design in a way I’ve only found in Laylah Ali’s paintings and Maya codices. It is something to be arrested by a small painting, drawn in to a narrative by something as simple as scale and a drop shadow, the whole universe contained in line (multiplicities, man!) Every artist in this show is a master of their material, and the work is cle-e-e-ean, playful, spooky, and serious all at the same time. That is quite the feat to pull off (I’ll spare you a skateboarding comparison.) Get your self up to Plainview.

“The Big Flip: the Art of Skateboarding” is on view at the Contemporary Art Museum Plainview through June 10, 2018.

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