It is thunderous in the Carpenters Workshop Gallery, it’s almost hypnotizing. The unabated sound of wheels hitting pavement fights against the chorus of Mazzy Star’s “Fade Into You,” when the Co-Founding Partner and Managing Director Art/Furniture Owenscorp, Michèle Lamy, tells me that “skateboarding is a way to communicate through the movement of the body.” All the works are produced by the dynamic artists collective LamyLand and produced and presented by Carpenters Workshop Gallery Los Angeles. The Turning Tricks team includes Chris Benfield, Skyler DeYoung, Lamy’s daughter Scarlett Rouge, and Danny Minnick, who is also the show’s co-curator. Reimagining iconic skate spots throughout LA, Turning Tricks is an ode to the defiant art form that consists of twelve unique and skateable pieces that can endure the relentless skate aggression, wherein they explore this exchange between the body and the unforgiving pull of the earth. A slab of waxed concrete, a gilded fire hydrant, or a trashcan that may or may not be in use might seem mundane to a layman, but to the enlightened, it is another opportunity to challenge an unkind gravity, the will of the wind, and the natural allure of inertia. “It’s not really an object or a show, it’s more a story of wanting to greet the city. Art is usually in Paris and London.” Lamy shares, “We’re in LA right now, and we really want to give and be part of something that is giving to the skating community.”
Flaunt was able to carve out a few words with Lamy, Minnick, DGK pro skater Dane Vaughn, and pro skater turned designer, Erik Ellington, before the drop-in to speak on continuing to ride with evergreen optimism even when knowing what it feels like to have our backs against the concrete.
While skateboarding has now been recognized as an Olympic sport and permeated the mainstream, how do you still see skating as a defiant art form, an act of defiance?
Styles in current skating and how it’s evolved make styles indistinguishable and personal touch or style gets watered down due to stringent standard set by the industry. It’s robotic and over-evolved and is parallel with the evolution of society.
Why is defiance important to you with regard to creativity?
People aren’t as opinionated anymore. There’s less character, no more jagged edges, and as a result, it becomes a mold—just like the current styles in skating. In art, there are no rules or evolution, so your true style shows, and this is the same with the 90s-00s era of skateboarding.
With skating for as long as you have, how does the passion stay alive for you?
You have to really want to do it. It’s a kind of thing I got into as a way to express myself and I didn’t have to join a team to do it. It’s the way I share with the world. And I think that no matter how old you get, that’ll always remain the purest thing. I think that no matter what my approach to life is, I’m always looking at it through a skateboarder’s eyes.
Do you have a favorite surface to skate on?
Well, I think we pretty much find almost anything you can skate on, which is I think what a lot of these pieces suggest. So I think that is what’s unique about this is that these are objects that we value so highly, and Danny did a fantastic job of curating them. Normally people don’t look at a trash can or a fire hydrant in the way that we do, or a bench or a piece of concrete we’re sitting on. It has its own personality, and I think that that’s what this show is about, the personalities and the uniqueness of skateboarding and skateboarders as individuals.
Do you have a favorite piece?
I have a favorite piece here. It’s the recreation of Lockwood, it’s a famous spot from back in the day. It was really famous before I even started skating, and I started skating in 2000. When I started skating, there weren’t really a lot of skate parks at all. So it was definitely like growing up, skating in the streets and just kind of having that raw essence. And then now it’s like a lot of kids are growing up with so much skateboarding and parks around, you can already look and see what’s been done and all that.
Rick Owens. “Single Aluminum Prong”. Mirror Polished. 35.4” X 31.5” X 19.7”. Courtesy Of Carpenters Workshop Gallery.
So, it’s very much passing on the legacy. In 10 years, what do you hope to see in skating?
Skateboarding in a raw area. Like I want to see, ‘Like okay, if you’re going the contest and you’re skating and that’s cool. I give you props for that.’ But I also wanna see the same people going out and doing the same things that we grew up doing, like going and being a part of the streets. And getting your credibility and appreciation from all areas. You know, make sure you hit all the little pinpoints of what people appreciate.
What do you hope people will take home with them tonight?
They are going to come to skate!
Are you going to skate?
No. You know I’ve been doing a lot of things with boxing everywhere in France—that I can still do.
How do you relate to riding the storm? Is it about passion or perhaps patience? How do you ride the storm?
There are so many storms right now, I don’t ride it too well. If there was a means we could help, that’s what I try to do. That would be the first revolution started by girls and women. They are incredible, but at the same time there are things all over the world, so right now we are making our bubble and seeing what we can do. I’m an exhausting optimist.
Where do you find the energy to be this optimistic?