By Jessie Van Roechoudt
Considering how much creative and artistic talent existswithin skateboarding, it was only a matter of time before someonerecognized it and established a forum for skateboardings artists tounite and exhibit their work for the masses.
Thats where Modart came in.
Modart was started by Mona Mukherjea-Gehrig and ShaneyJo Darden. The first exhibit was held in San Diego during theSeptember 1998 ASR trade show. “We wanted to provide anenvironment and a space for all of our friends to come together.And a lot of our peers as well,” says Darden.
“Mona worked at TransWorld Media for years, and sheknew lots of artists and I knew lots of designers, so we figured, Whynot bring everyone together and throw a party? The reason we didit in the first place was to do something cultural that was within ourindustry and in our city,” Darden continues. “At that time, no onewas doing stuff like what we were doing.”
Darden says the response after the first Modart in 1998was amazing. “Everyone was stoked. We werent expecting anything.We got lots of press without even trying.”
The relationship between Modart and skateboarding isintimate. “Creative action breeds active creation,” says Darden,repeating the organizations tag line. “Its the belief that movementinspires creativity. A lot of it has to do with growing up inskateboarding for sure, and in Southern Californiaits a part of mylife. So in a sense, you do what you know.
“Also, we really felt that when Mona was working atTransWorld Media, there were so many artists in skateboarding thatwerent really recognized that waythat they are really artists andnot just graphic designers or dudes who scribble on paper.”
Change Is Good
With significant exposure since its advent, Modart hasgrown considerably. Its gone from being a single exhibit in SanDiego to being a nationally recognized event within the skateboardand snowboard art communities.
In the summer of 1999 and 2000, Modart traveled alongwith Vans through Canada and the United States as part of thesummer Warped Tour. “Its grown a lot,” says Darden. “Weve beenseen by a lot of people. Being on the Warped Tour exposed usnationwide.” On 1999s Warped Tour, Modart held an exhibitioncalled Camp Modart which featured both an art and fashion show.
“One really cool thing with the art and being on theWarped Tour was seeing the kids,” continues Darden. “They knowthis art. So being in the middle of the country, they were reallyexcited to see it firsthandlike an Ocean Howell, Margaret Kilgallen,or Andy Jenkins piecethey recognized it.” Due to the increase ofrecognition in skateboarding art, artists are getting more and moreopportunities to display their work. “Theres more anthem andarchetype now,” Darden explains. “Artists now are getting a lot morerecognition, which is really cool. Thats the main thing thatschanged since weve started doing Modart.”
Without doubt, the relationship between Modart andskateboarding isnt stationary. Darden and Mukherjea-Gehrig agreethat its evolving into the future. Dardens view is simple: “For us,its important in a way to stay true to whats special to us, which isskateboarding. That also gives Modart its niche. We definitely workwith a lot of snowboarding, but rarely ever work with surfing. For noreason other than that, its just not our scene.”
Keep A Breast
Beyond art exhibits, Modart holds Keep A Breast shows toraise money for breast-cancer research and awareness.
Keep A Breast first appeared in 2000, in Tahoe at BoardingFor Breast Cancer. One of the shows two beneficiaries is the BreastCancer Fund in San Francisco. “They raise money for research,” saysDarden. “A lot of what theyre interested in is environmental andhow that affects your body. The other beneficiary is the AshaKilgallen McGee Fund, in honor of Margaret Kilgallen, a well-knownartist among our group. She died of breast cancer this year. Asha isher daughterMargaret had just given birth to her and passed awaya few weeks later.”
This years Keep A Breast show was held in New York City atthe Triple Five Soul store on October 3. Last year Keep A Breastshows were held in San Francisco, New York City, and Tahoe.
Overall, both Darden and Mukerjea-Gehrig dont have anydefinite plans for future shows, as theyre in the process of weighingtheir options. “We have invitiations to do shows in different parts ofthe world,” says Darden. “Theres nothing concrete planned for thefuture, but itll be something new.”
Darden feels all the recent competition is only morereason for Modart to maintain its niche: “We dont want to be likeother people. We want to stay true to what we do and not diffuseourselves with too much of what other people are doing. With somuch other stuff being out there now, it would be dumb for us to doanother show like what anyone else is doing.”
Modart provides a way for artists within the skatecommunity to exhibit their artwork in a gallery environment, whileat the same time having their art accessible to the larger skatecommunity that converges at events such as the Action SportsRetailer (ASR) trade show.
“Modart is truly a labor of love,” says Darden.
Connect 4 Show Is A Hit
San Diego Modart show features fewer artists andbigger crowds.
By Jessie Van Roechoudt
The Modart Connect 4 show was held on September 6 atThe Reincarnation Project gallery in San Diego. Organized byModarts Shaney Jo Darden and Mona Mukherjea-Gehrig, Dardensays exhibiting fewer artists this year enabled the participatingartists to have more space to display fuller bodies of their work.
Featured artists included Angela Boatwright, AndrewPommier, Deanna and Ed Templeton, Natas Kaupas, Grant Brittain, ,Brian Gaberman, Shepard Fairey, and Richard Hart.
Boatwright says that due to the larger number of artistsincluded in previous shows, the element of quantity versus qualitywas present. She says this years format was better: “It cametogether really well, with the artists being able to show a goodamount of quality work.”
Another change to the format of Connect 4, compared toprevious Modart shows, was the cost of tickets for attendees. Forthe first time ever, admission tickets to the event ran for fifteendollars, but only for tickets purchased at the door to avoidovercrowding by passers-by. “The cost of doing that event is sohigh,” says Darden. “We raised the ticket price because we wereafraid that too many people were coming. All of the sponsors getabout a hundred VIP tickets eachand there were over ten sponsors.So there were about a thousand people thereand about a thousandVIPs there with the tickets we gave away.” In past years, people whoarrived with passes could not get in because too many people hadalready entered the show.
Despite this crowd-control strategy, the show was stillpacked, and incredibly well organized. Even those waiting in line atthe bar were treated to a slide show featuring the artwork of artistsfrom TransWorld Media on a screen hanging above the bar.
Darden said that both she and Mukherjea-Gehrhig werepleased with how the show went, and that they usually break evenon their shows.
An interesting yet peculiar event of the evening was howhanging photos labeled as Deanna Templetons at the beginning ofthe evening were later crossed out with Eds name etched in with asharpie marker. Likewise, photos originally signed with EdTempletons name, were later “edited” with the marker to state hiswife Deannas name. Its unsure whether this was a simple labelingmistake or if the Templetons saw this as an opportunity to segueinto the realm of conceptual art as a mode of commentary on thegender politics of artistic fame.
While the art is the most prevalent part of the Connect 4show, there was also music throughout the evening with a fashionshow exhibiting clothing from many of the events sponsors.
The evenings music started off with the relaxing music ofCory Branan. As more people arrived and the party pace sped up, sodid the music, with Damon Wa
y performing as DJ Cassette alongwith Tron Electroclash and Nuwave, followed by the Cultifadaz and ashort set by Bostich to wrap up the evenings events.