Skateboard art on display at i-20 Gallery in New York Richard S. Chang/Red Bull Media House North America, Inc.

Skateboarding and the art have long been intertwined, with galleries showing skate art and skate shops holding art shows, not to mention all the artists who were skaters and vice versa. An ambitious venture merging the two worlds was launched last week at the i-20 gallery in Chelsea-- New York City’s high-rent arts district, where Scott Ogden, an artist and filmmaker, and Jonathan Lavoie, the gallery’s director, have converted the space into a functioning skate shop, called “Make Skateboards.”

There are skate decks hung on the wall. T-shirts are displayed on a table by the window. Trucks, wheels and grip tape are also available -- supplied by KCDC, a bonafide shop in Brooklyn -- so customers can set up their boards and skate out the door. Conveniently, the Pier 62 skate park is only a few blocks away.

“I’m hoping we get a lot of kids in here who want to set up a board and go skate,” says Ogden, who started skating as a kid.

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Make Skateboards

Being in an art gallery, the decks at Make Skateboards have been customized by some serious contemporary artists. There are one-of-a-kind boards that run from $200 to as high as $8,000 (for a board by Joyce Pensato).

But Make Skateboards also has a line of 13 limited edition decks by the likes of Kenny Scharf, Slater Bradley, Prophet Royal Robertson and Erik Parker. Those are priced at $95.

“I think [skateboards are] a cool way to make art -- and [they’re] supposed to be skated,” says Ogden, an artist and filmmaker. “It’s a bit temporary or meant to be destroyed, which is always kind of cool.”

He adds, “But it doesn’t have to be -- you can hang it on your wall.”

Ogden and Lavoie began kicking around the idea of opening a skate shop two years ago, but it only picked up steam earlier this year. “The last three months have been hectic,” says Lavoie.

The space has been carefully curated. Make Skateboards has partnered with a Brooklyn boutique, RePOP, to outfit the space with antiques. Some of the décor comes from Ogden’s personal collection.

“I’ve been into antiques and folk art for a long time,” Ogden says. “So the space is my attempt to bring different worlds together -- high contemporary art with some self-taught artists, antiques.

null Richard S. Chang/Red Bull Media House North America, Inc.

Everything For Sale

Other partners included in the exhibition include Parts + Labor Workshop in Brooklyn, Portia & Manny, a vintage clothes seller in Manhattan, and L.A.N.D., a creative outreach program for artists with disabilities. L.A.N.D. will run weekly workshops, producing artworks.

Everything is for sale. “If art sells, we’re going to wrap it up and you can take it,” Ogden says. “It’s not a permanent fixed exhibition. It’s an evolving space.”

The artist Robert Lazzarini will soon launch an ultra limited edition deck (Ogden says there will be probably 10 decks). And the curators say they plan on throwing regular parties and concerts during the show’s two-month run.

Lavoie and Ogden hope these programs and the skate shop ambiance make the gallery more inviting for everyone – not just art aficionados.

“Once you start making it feel retail and look retail, then it’s inviting, and people want to come in and buy, look and discover,” Lavoie says. “That was an important aspect for us. So we had this transformation of a traditional gallery space.”

“Make Skateboards” will run through September 17 at i-20 Gallery, 557 West 23rd Street, New York, NY. I-20.com.

For more from Richard S. Chang, follow him on Twitter: @r_s_c

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