It was a terrific evening under a beautiful Los Angeles night sky this past September 29 at The Ford Theatre to see Finding a Line: Skateboarding, Music and Media –– an unprecedented collaboration exploring the intersection of skateboarding and jazz. Improvisation abounds as local skaters shredded a ramp on stage to a musical response performed live by Jason Moran and his group The Bandwagon. Playing loud and strong on a purple and golden lit stage were Ron Allen, Bennie Maupin on saxophone (best known for Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew album), bassist Tarus Mateen, Daru Jones on drums and guitarist and professional skateboarder Chuck Treece. In front of them a large ramp had been set up and a dozen skaters spent the hour and a half raining down the half-pipe in ever increasing speed and skill. Skateboarders included Ron Allen, Simon Lambey, Jaime Reyes, Sky and Ocean (AWSM KIDS), and members of the OC Ramps Team: Jordan Hoffart, Greg Lutzka, Brad McClain and more.
Finding a Line celebrates the creativity of the full breadth of the skateboarding community, including musicians, photographers, filmmakers, painters, graphic and fashion designers, and the skateboarders themselves. In the Ford Theatre Gallery there was a great show of artworks,The Nation Skate X CSEF Exhibition, showcasing photos and other artwork from The Nation Skate and College Skateboarding Educational Foundation. The exhibit is designed to illustrate the way the simple act of skateboarding can act as a bridge between youth from around the world. From South Africa to Cuba, New Zealand to the Netherlands, the skateboarding culture connects young people by providing a common language. Together, their shared experiences create a global skateboarding community. Participating artists include Zorah Olivia, Chris Pastras, Ana Paula-Negrao, Don Pendeleton, Ed Templeton, Seu Trinh, Nam Chi Van and others. The Curator is Neftalie Williams, the first lecturer of skateboarding business, media and culture in the United States. He lectures and conducts research at the USC Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism in Los Angeles, California and is a PhD candidate at the University of Waikato in New Zealand. And, to add to the overall joyous visual din, an evening of short films and videos,Trick Flicks: A Night of Shorts, curated by music video directors and former pro skateboarder Laban and Director Diana Wyenn, was hosted on September 25. It featured works by James Craven, Fullon Campadres, and Kingswell, along with premieres by Raghav Arumugam and Jagriti Khirwar, Dave Bergthold, Mike Brown and Frank Pfeifer.
This program was funded in part by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and is part of the Center for the Art of Performance Collaborations in the Visual and Performing Arts Project I have been involved with for the past four years. It’s a great pleasure to be part of this project, and see so many amazing and committed artists and creators brought to Los Angeles by CAP Executive and Artistic Director Kristy Edmonds, and the organizations she collaborates with. With Jason Moran, my great colleague Olga Garay English from the Ford Theatre had a major role in the production of the show and attending events. Check https://cap.ucla.edu/calendar/ for what’s coming up next in their season.