Art for Park Ponshop Skatedeck Exhibit By A.E. Bayne Mark your calendars in March and April for Ponshop’s first “Art for Park” exhibit, featuring over fifty custom-painted skate decks created by local and national artists. The show’s March First Friday opening will feature over a dozen original works of art, with the April First Friday event including all participating artists. The exhibit will raise money for the Fredericksburg Skate Park Project, with 20 percent of sales going toward the fund. Gabe Pons has been involved with the initiative for the skate park since 2016, but it was well underway at that point. He says, “It was really kicked off in 2013 by Don Patterson, a Marine dad whose teen son was an avid skateboarder at Brooks Park. Don and Mark Eyestone of Magic Bullet Records and Skateboards have been rallying people around the idea of improving the ramps at Saint Clair Brooks Memorial Park since that time. They’ve done fundraisers, both through Magic Bullet and at the park itself, but like any kind of public fundraising project it really needs something sustained.” Skateboarding and skate culture are close to Pons’ heart. Growing up in the ‘80s, he says magazines like Thrasher and TransWorld gave him and his friends exposure to the punk-infused culture surrounding skating, and he attributes his interest in art as being stimulated by that culture. He says, “The graphic design of the decks we used was directly influenced by riders of the day and their pro models. The companies that sponsored them would give riders a signature model, and those images became iconic. Now, design comes from anywhere. It might come from a bootleg of a commercial graphic made personal or parodied, or it might incorporate fine art. Graphic designers and street photographers are collaborating with skateboard companies to design deck graphics now. Today, skateboard graphic design is up for grabs and only limited by one’s imagination.” Pons says that over the past 25 years, skateboarding has been fully recognized as part of the collective pop culture. He says, “Even the MOMA has limited edition decks hanging on their gift store walls.” Pons believes the skate park will be an opportunity for the city to have something that is truly unique to add to its reputation. He says the space the park
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utilizes can be compact as long as creativity and variety are incorporated into the design of the terrain. He also sees it as a way to connect with the public. Pons explains, “Today, skateboarding is a multi-generational activity. While a large part of skating has always been about the teens - the park rats, which Fredericksburg needs more of, in my opinion - it’s also about older kids in their late teens and 20s, college kids, young professionals in their 30s and older, like me, who have started families and careers but want to share skating with their own kids. The new park will require nearly half a million dollars to fully fund. Reconstruction of the existing skate spot at Brooks Park will make it a safe and friendly public park for the entire community, but the Fredericksburg Skate Park Project is just starting to accumulate funds. Pons says, “The initiative is not going to achieve its goal through benefits and fundraisers alone. It’s going to take a collaboration between the arts community, the municipality, Parks and Rec, and hopefully private sponsorship and donations." "Art for Park" has been a popular draw. Pons laughs, “I’ve had so many inquiries beyond the 50 spots we opened that I’m already thinking about other venues for later in the year where we could hold another fundraiser.” “Art for Park” will be on display at Ponshop in March & April , with openings on First Friday of each month from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. For info 540-6 656-2 2215. A.E. Bayne is a writer, visual artist and veteran educator who publishes Fredericksburg Literary and Art Review twice a year. Read it free online at fredericksburgwriters.com.
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