Saturday, January 15, 2011

Buy What You Like

I've never owned a minivan. I've never owned a pair of Vans either for that matter. Why would I? I was never a skater. I mean, I was never a skateboarder. I've previously (and quite believably) blogged about being one of the best roller disco skaters in the world, but I was never a skateboarder. I will date myself by confirming I did own a molded plastic FREEFORMER that was the same width as an Olympic balance beam. However, I never joined up with Leif Garrett to sneak into the abandoned swimming pools of Southern California or avenged the death of a sibling by Gleaming the Cube along with Christian Slater.

Many folks know that my friend, furniture maker Chris Gochnour, began his career as a kid making skateboards and eventually some of earliest snowboards. This summer Chris is teaching a weekend class at Marc Adams School of Woodworking on building a skateboard. It could even be a good way to introduce a young person to our craft in a way that will absorb their attention.

(Note: In an effort to make this return to blogging quite complete for my buddy Ed, I am hitting on all of the old standby's.... I'm calling out Gochnour, MASW, bad movies from the 70s and 80s... Holy cow, if I could just do some gushing over modern hand tool makers or make a poignant reference to Steve Perry of Journey, we could call it a year, and I wouldn't have to make another blog update until just before the world ends in 2012.)

My friend Erin recently graduated from Art School. On December 22, 2010 she commented on MyFace about working with skateboards. She wrote, " I think I just realized how much I love designing do I make this into my job?"  Someone then suggested she call Tony Hawke.

Ever the capitalist and marketing whiz, I responded with, "Then call Burton or Sean White and jump into Snowboards, too... there's more market there. If you're looking for information on the woodworking aspect of MAKING skateboards, Chris Gochnour is teaching a weekend class next summer at Marc Adams' School of Woodworking in Whiteland. (Erin, always find a way to do what makes you happy.)"

I didn't think too much more about Artist Erin making skateboards until January 9th. Again through FaceSpace I saw that Erin had updated her profile picture with this:

I then realized what Erin meant about designing skateboards. I also realized that I wanted that skateboard. Art is like that with me. Sometimes the things I want hearken back to childhood and gentler days. A few years ago Gail and I bought a piece from our friends Mike and Wally that had been painted by Patrick Rapai, an artist in Zimbabwe. 

It is called Bicycle and for me it reaches back to a time when my greatness and all my accolades were received from piloting a two wheeled machine with no brakes around 333 meters of high-banked concrete. (That picture of me wearing Eddy Merckx's Molteni Trainer in the June 2008 issue of Popular Woodworking was not a random choice; it was a shout out to my cycling buddies.)  That is why Bicycle is the first painting I ever purchased.

In 2007, I visited my friend Randy at a craft show where he was selling his turnings.  At the back of his booth I saw something else that was for sale... this walking stick carved by his mother-in-law.

At first glance I knew I wanted it. By comparison the stick does NOT hearken back to my youth. I was never a gnome, and I never lived near a waterfall. 

However, it struck a chord with me. We could analyze whether it is modern folk art. Perhaps it was just my recognizing how many hours of work went into the carving even before the paint went on. I don't know why I had to have that walking stick, but I did.

Similarly, Erin's skateboard touched me. I love card games. I can pass the time playing spider solitaire just as easily as I could explain the finer points of playing Omaha Hi-Low. I don't know if that's why I wanted that skate board or if it was something else.

I just know that on Monday, I emailed Erin and asked if she would consider selling it. Erin and I agreed upon a price, and she informed me that not only is it the first skateboard she has done, but this is the first thing she has sold since graduating from Herron School of Art and Design.

I am not an accomplished art collector. Perhaps I have eclectic tastes. Then again, some of you may believe that I have an eye for greatness. Although I still fall victim to the need to be liked by everyone, the reality of my tiny little art collection is that I do not care what anybody thinks. The art I buy is not about artists names or perceived collectability; it's about what touches me.

I realize that if Gail and I lived with my parents and saved every dime we made for two years we could purchase a Sam Maloof rocker that is truly beautiful and almost universally loved by everyone who has the opportunity to gaze upon one. However, I am thrilled to be the owner of an O'Brien.

Perhaps in the future someone will look upon my skateboard and say, "Oh my God, is that an O'Brien?!?!" And I can say, "That is the very first piece that Erin O'Brien ever sold, and the reason I have it is because I always had the wisdom (and the courage) to buy what I liked."

Erin O'Brien has not yet established her permanent studio. However, if you are interested in her work you can email me and I forward it along to Erin.  Don't try to sneak into my house and steal this one.  As you can see it is being closely guarded by the Attack Lab.

Erin, may you  be greatly blessed in your career.  May you find an audience that fully appreciates your efforts as you create the work that rises up from your soul.  Thank you for letting me have the chance to be your friend and patron.

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