DeKALB – A blue cyclops with a forked tongue emblazoned on the underside of a skateboard. A high-contrast depiction of a quarter pipe formed from twisted wire. A happy half pipe/house stretching the length of a tiny desert island.
These were a few of the pieces of local art on display at Fargo Skateboarding’s 12th Annual Skateboard Inspired Art Show. The exhibition features work with a focus on the lifestyle of skateboarding or that uses the equipment of skateboarding – think lots of decks featuring graffiti-style artwork painted on the bottom – as a springboard for a piece.
Fargo’s owner, Ariel Riese, said that the event began soon after the skate shop opened in 2007 when she was approached by the president of Ars Nova, Northern Illinois University’s long-running art club. Since then, things have changed – both for the art show and for Fargo. The skate shop has expanded to include an indoor skate park. And the art show now primarily draws from the skateboard community, rather than NIU. One change, introduced this year, saw the art show moving out of Fargo – where all inventory had to be removed to accommodate it – and into the empty shop next door.
In order to find enough art to fill a store, Riese puts out multiple calls for work. She also personally reached out to Erin Boyle, a local tattoo artist, to ask her to serve as this year’s featured artist.
“I actually really fell in love with her Corn Fest shirt,” Riese said. “It was a comic strip and it was a guy floating through space, and he was like, ‘I finally found it! It’s Corn Fest!’ And it was just so funny to me.”
As a result, this year’s exhibition was comic book-themed. Boyle’s art reflected that, drawing on vintage Archie books for inspiration. The bulk of her corner of the show featured two characters, a blue-haired man with a prominent, cleft chin and a woman with pink hair and glossy red lips.
“I wanted to mess with them,” Boyle said of her characters. “So in one I set her face on fire, and then in another one, he has his eyes like bulging out. So just like messing with their originality. They’re really bland, and I wanted to make them funkier.”
One other character was featured in her section, a cartoon wolf with jewels for eyes.
“I made the board, [but] the character isn’t mine. It’s one of my best friend from high school’s character. She’s been drawing him for over a decade now, and she’s never debuted him in an art gallery. So, I thought it would be so cool, if for my art show, [she] debuted this character that we both love for the first time,” Boyle said. “So, to kind of inspire her, I was like, ‘I’m going to make a mystery skateboard of the character.’ So, she has no idea what it looks like. So that will be exciting.”
Boyle said that the response to her work has been overwhelmingly positive.
“I think because Ariel put [my art] right when you open the door it’s the first thing you see. I hear a lot of people like, ‘Whoa.’ Which makes my heart explode, it’s super-awesome,” Boyle said.
One art fan traveled about 2000 miles to see Boyle’s work. Jordan Moyer, a longtime friend of Boyle’s flew in from Washington the night before to attend the art show.
“She’s been a friend of mine for a long time, and I thought, ‘What better time to come out than during her art show?’ ” Moyer said. “It’s amazing.”