Beyond The Board: Cracked Pavement at Gamut Gallery

Beyond The Board: Cracked Pavement at Gamut Gallery

Published July 26th, 2018 by John Herbert

Gamut’s skateboard-themed exhibition showcases the sport’s creativity, community, and local history here in the Twin Cities, on view through August 3rd.

Despite the grueling sub-zero temperatures and snowy winters that Minnesota has to offer for almost half of each year, skateboarding has a rich history here during warmer days. Having opened on July 19th amidst the sea of festivities that is the X Games, Gamut Gallery’s current show — Cracked Pavement, curated by local artist Jamie Owens — brings together many skateboarders and artists alike. Here, Owens’s curatorial venture surveys the lifespan of skateboarding in the Twin Cities through several decades from the ‘80s to the present, while also promoting the current world of artists who skate.



I started skating when I was eight years old, and skateboarding and the experiences that have come with it have permeated nearly every aspect of how I see the world and how I view art. And as this show expresses, I am definitely not alone in that. Owens started skateboarding about thirteen years ago and says that his work as an artist and designer has been heavily impacted by the sport. In talking about Cracked Pavement, Owens says that he dreaded the idea of putting on “just another skate show,” often comprised solely of photography or physical skateboards hung by themselves. These “skate shows” are often held at skateparks or shops, specifically targeting skaters and not the average art-lover. At Gamut, Owens has created a physical space in which people, skaters or not, can gain a greater insight on local skate history through nearly encyclopedic timelines as expressed in limited edition prints by Aaron Christensen and Ben Petersen, while also showing that art created by skateboarders does not always have to encompass stereotypes behind the skater persona. Diverging from these two normalities behind skateboard art shows, Owens created an outlet for a more fresh and diversified portrayal of skateboarders and the work they make.

Cassie Garner, Gamut’s Gallery Director, got to know Jamie Owens roughly four years ago through his blogging about art events. After showing his own work at that year's Raging Art-On, the gallery’s annual holiday show, Owens kept up the relationship by dropping by to share new work and eventually joined the team as a gallery prep worker. "Over time Jamie has really become part of the Gamut family," says Garner, "not only as one of our lead installers but [as part of our] community of artists as well. It was very inspiring to watch him pour his passion into his first curated show with us." Given that Garner did not know much about the Minneapolis skate scene before the show, she says "it was really galvanizing for me to watch everyone get excited about this piece or that piece of memorabilia. I don't think the energy that happened during the opening could be replicated. It felt like a giant family reunion, and I was very happy that Gamut was the vessel that could provide that experience."     


Vintage Roots brand sticker lampooning Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree

Cracked Pavement is comprised of work from eleven local skateboarding artists along with more historic mementos contributed by OG skaters like Elijah Collard and Mike Munzenrider. Almost all the artists in the show have not been included in gallery exhibitions outside of skateparks and skate shops before, a surprising aspect to learn after seeing the work they bring to the table. Tech Decks, vintage skateboards, wheels, and stickers were donated by well-known names in the scene, all showing the ever-changing influences in design and commercial aspects in skating over the years. What is interesting about this mashup of work, from the cool to the crass, is the redefinition that happens by being placed within the sterile gallery. A vintage skateboard, when placed in the context of an art gallery, transforms from utilitarian object used by skaters into a more artful object that all can appreciate.



Cracked Pavement also includes two interactive works into its design. The first is a couch in the corner that faces a VCR and TV set, where people of all ages can become couch-locked in awe of old skate videos. Owens wants the viewers to feel the nostalgia that all skaters have of “just being young and dirty together,” squished together on a chunky old couch. And while specific landmarks like “Rainbow Banks,” “The Rooftops,” and “Fish Ledge” may be mysterious to people who did not grow up skating in Minnesota, these spots are holy spaces for those of us who did. Max Mateikis’s interactive piece in one corner of the gallery is made up of six analog photos of these significant locations with clipboards underneath, so that people can jot down who did what and where. The show’s opening night found everyone in this corner at the height of attendance, with anyone from teenagers to people in their forties coming together to rant about what their friends and heroes had done at these special spots.



One particularly flooring work was a set of two typographic prints designed in collaboration by Owens and 3rd Lair Skatepark graphic designer Oskar Barrett. Skaters being the appreciative bunch that never stop thanking those who spend countless hours filming them, Oskar Barrett and Jamie Owens copied the transcription of deceased local skate hero CJ Tambornino, typos and all, from the thank you section in “Boondoggle,” a highly impactful skate video coming up on the tenth anniversary of its premiere. People at the opening flocked towards this eulogy to Tambornino and discussed all of the times that he brought an unmatched energy and enthusiasm towards anyone whose path he crossed. While its references may be foreign to the viewer unfamiliar with CJ, the piece makes it clear the humility skateboarders have towards other skateboarders, people, and places that have influenced them along their own journeys.

Although this exhibition is admittedly more of a skater art show, there are many things for the uninformed to discover. For one, those who have never given skating a shot are easily able to see the camaraderie and community behind the sport, whether it be through sitting down on the couch and basking over the difficulty and style behind old school skate videos, or through the marks and craftsmanship behind the cheesebox placed centrally in the gallery. After viewing this show, I left with a heightened appreciation of my local inner city surroundings, remembering significant times in them. Cracked Pavement also portrays another side to skateboarding culture that Owens explains in a great light. On speaking about the creativity that is harbored within many skateboarders, Owens says that “making artwork allows skaters to engage other aspects of their inner-weirdo without getting too wrapped up in just skating.”



Cracked Pavement will be on view through August 3rd, with a Finale that night from 8-10pm featuring a night of short films produced locally in Minneapolis, curated by Jade Patrick, Peter Groynom, and Christian Tarbox ($5 or free with Gallery Membership). Gamut Gallery is open Thursday through Saturdays from 1-7 PM or by appointment. To see more of Jamie Owens’s work, visit his website:


All photos courtesy of Gamut Gallery. Banner image: Jeremy Lindvig, Natas-Panther, restored vintage skateboard

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