Riding Concrete: Skateboarding In California
Walking through a museum there is an expectation of seeing art, ancient artifacts and other historical memorabilia. The California Museum is switching up the idea of what a typical museum holds by introducing California to an important part of its history with a story that is not often told.
Behold the colors, wheels, art, big names, shapes and sizes. Riding Concrete: Skateboarding In California, is the new exhibit showing from July 2 through March 24, giving an up-close look at the California-created sport.
Located on 1020 O St. downtown, the exhibit is curated by the legendary skateboarder and surfer Nathan Pratt, who also co-stared in the “Dogtown and Z-Boys” documentary back in 2002.
“This is the first exhibit about skateboarding here at the museum, and the first one of a California-created sport that we are paying tribute to,” said Brenna Hamilton, communications director for the museum. “We try to tell stories that are not often told by other museums or even in history books.”
The exhibit is like a living timeline dating back to the 1950s with the wood plank and metal roller skate wheel models to the modern boards used today.
Who knew back in 1971 that 14-year-old Nathan Pratt working as a clean up boy in a Santa Monica Zephyr surf shop would one day change skateboarding forever – he and the other Z-Boys who came up with their own innovative and radical style.
“It’s funny because there is a whole section of people in my life that know nothing about my skateboarding past. Then one day out of the blue they’ll come up to me and be like ‘I know a Z-Boy. My kid saw the whole documentary and were like ‘Oh my god you know Nathan Pratt? He’s a god, he’s a legend,’” Pratt said.
According to Pratt the name ‘Z-Boys’ actually came from the “Zephyr Competition Team,” when the group of Z-Boys at the time were in a contest and the announcer kept having to say the full name over and over. They finally just got fed up and shortened it and its been the same ever since.
“This is the second showing of the exhibit. I did this exhibit down in Santa Monica at the California Heritage Museum about a year and a half ago, and that was the first time anything like that had ever been put together where something really encompasses every era of skateboard from the beginning to current,” said Pratt, 53, as he unloaded some final boards out of boxes.
More than 200 items lent from The Sidewalk Shop, Skatelab, Z-Boy Archive collections and other passionate collectors are on display.
“This (display) is going to appeal to a wide audience” said Amanda Meeker, deputy director of exhibits and programming for the California Museum.
“I think anybody who grew up in California in the last 50 years can come see this and see something that they can identify with,” Hamilton said. “There’s a bit of nostalgia even for myself.”
Some highlights include Tony Hawk’s autographed personal board, a rare Willie Mays board, the first pro model skateboard and the first board with urethane wheels.
The first Zephyr board and a collection of the first boards made and sold in 1962 by Val Surf the California surf shop (the first known retailer of skateboards), are on display as well. There is also a 1963 Makaha Phil Edwards board (the first pro model skateboard produced), highly collectible 1980s boards made by Sims, Dogtown & Powell Peralta and, of course much, much more.
“The first board I had as a kid was this Bun Buster back here, and I can still remember that from when I was 10 years old,” Pratt said while walking the dimly lit room lined with big glass display cases.
Pratt also said that the kids are his favorite part of what he does because they are so enthusiastic and want to try out the Z-Boys style of skateboarding. This exhibit will not only be enjoyable to those who are into skateboarding, but will really bring people together, he said.
“Kids obviously know about skateboarding, but they may not know about people in the ’60s, like, ‘Gosh I may be more like my dad then I realized,’” Meeker said.
“I think the people that made skateboarding into the worldwide cultural phenomenon that it has become have never really been given credibility in history as a significant culture that changed the world,” Hamilton said, “because (skateboarding) grew into a huge movement.”
There will also be photography featured by Craig Stecyk, the photojournalist who launched the Z-Boys and created the "Pig and Crossbones" graffiti and Dogtown cross. Not to mention there will be several different multimedia presentations that will feature some ground-breaking manufacturers, riders and artists.
“I want people to appreciate it, and I think that they do. It’s just great to get to see an entire timeline of history and skateboards in one place and hopefully somewhere within that 50-year timeline they can find something that really resonates for them,” Pratt said.
For more information about the California Museum visit their site.