Ph: Dave Franklin
Growing up skating in Newark Chris Duncan was one of the older guys back when 2 or 3 years might of well have been a hundred. Chris skated faster and did gnarlier stuff he was into crazy music he had traveled what seemed like everywhere at the time. Chris really was one of the prime examples to us that being a skateboarder meant more than just riding a skateboard. In 1996 Brannon and I stayed with Chris in San Francisco on our first cross country skate trip. That whole trip was a crazy mind blowing experience but SF- bombing hills, taking the bus to Fort Miley, Mission burritos that was the pinnacle. I attempted to do a little interview with Chris for the release of the new boards he did with us, but even better Chris basically told us the story of his skate and art life from the skate rat pre-Newark days to the present day getting written about in the New York times world renowned artist phase. Have a read and get inspired to skate a launch ramp and make some art.
Check out Chris's art and music here
I started skateboarding in 1986 when i was 11 years old. My mom and i lived in a townhouse complex in Brick town New Jersey. There were a couple older kids that had a launch ramp, skated curbs and kind of just raised hell in the neighborhood. As much as they made it clear they were annoyed by this little kid tagging along, i was drawn to them and did my best to hang out. My mom took notice and one day i came home from school to my first skateboard- a Nash Executioner. It was neon orange. I got made fun of for having a skateboard from K-mart. Fuck it though, it worked and pretty soon i was early grabbing off that launch ramp with the older kids and figuring it out. I love that my mom just went for it and got me a board. She didn't know any better as far as what to get, and there were really no "skate" shops around she was aware of...why would she be? She just wanted me to be happy and wasn't afraid of the weirdos that i was starting to admire. Skateboarding was UGLY then, but she was not afraid. I definitely did not fit into the heavy jock vibes that were ever-present at my school and neighborhood. She picked up on that and opened the door. Eventually we discovered Brave New World and Grogs in Point Pleasant. My next board was a Vision Psycho Stick. I started surfing around this time too. Point Pleasant beach and Manasquan inlet were just far enough away that i had to depend on rides from my mom. So i skated more. One of the older kids in the neighborhood had a boom box that he would bring out and i was introduced to music that made sense to me. I can't stress enough on how skateboarding and music were synonymous then. That equation- sounds and skating, was the beginning. Mind officially blown. I never saw the world the same again.
In 1989 my mom re-married. Lets just say it was very rough on me. The skateboard and hardcore community became more and more like family. It literally saved me. Way less time at home, even at an early age. In 1991 we moved from Jersey to Newark Delaware. It was my junior year in high school and a pretty awkward transition, but i quickly made friends with the very small skate/punk community there. In Delaware i split my time between skating and going to hardcore/punk shows. That's all I cared about. I had a couple shit jobs to get me by and did the bare-minimum at school. I got my drivers license soon after my arrival and that meant access to Philly, Maryland, DC, NYC and Jersey. Between shows and skating I wandered a lot. UniSound had a ramp in it. Delaware had gnarly skateboarders. Funny to say, but skateboarding felt more punk there. Rob Erickson, Joey Simpers and Scotty Curran come to mind. Absolute shredders. I have very fond memories of skating curbs around Wooden wheels, the drive thru bank on main street and a handful back yard ramps where crazy shit went down. Slappys 7-11 late night slurpies. Also barging U of D with a crew of kids(Kinetic peeps long before Kinetic), steps and hand rails and getting chased by U of D police. So much fun. Street skating was really good there then. There was a guy named Chad Zepke drunk all the time and absolutely ripped. Fell so hard and kept going for it. Fucking relentless. I think about that dude all the time, how he would just plow through everything, no matter what. That stuck with me.
Talk about a metaphor.
Other great memories were road trips to Landsdowne with Hard Karl and others. That place was crazy. So sketchy. Landsdowne locals were something else. Always so exciting to see older dudes shred that place. Switch speed lines before "switch" was a term.
Ph: Victor Blue
I left Delaware in 1995 and eventually landed in San Francisco after a winter in Tahoe with Jeremy Weiss(another old Delaware skater turned artist/photographer). Thats when i started to make art. My friend Sean Greene moved from New York to Oakland for a year or two. I knew Sean from music and skating, so thats what we did. Sean is also a great painter. He's the first person i ever knew with a studio practice. His art making was not passive. He was/is inspiring. I credit Sean for unknowingly making me an artist. I had absolutely no direction at that point and Seans influence provided the path I have walked down since. Some how he made a creative life accessible. Pretty beautiful actually, to be able to say a friend was a major influence rather than some obtuse, unattainable figure. I have plenty of those too i guess. Eventually i went to art school, then a lot of living and then art school again....and two kids. Wild.
The freedoms that i experienced with skateboarding during my formative years are directly linked to the life I've done my best to live. We can make our own rules.
Currently, my wife and i run a small project space in Oakland California. A couple times a month we host "experimental" sound and performance happenings. We strive to keep it weird. I think that's the best way to learn new things about the world and ourselves. The space is called LAND AND SEA, which we named after the art book press and record label we started in 2009. LAND AND SEA ,as a press, is gearing up for the New York Art Book Fair this fall and preparing a couple new releases.
For my own art, I'm preparing for a series of sound performances this summer and then a residency here in Northern California at a place called Headlands Center for the Arts. I'm also working towards a solo exhibition of paintings that will be shown in LA at a gallery called Mark Moore next February. I've also been making music with fellow maker Rich Jacobs under the moniker BODY OF WATER, its weird. and fun.
I broke my leg skating and had to get ankle surgery last year..finally pushing around again. Feels good. Still got some slappys in me for sure.
Just want to end this with a big thank you for inviting me to make these boards with you guys. It means a lot to me-thank you.