Painting by John DeBold, Image by Steve Hull
What a brilliant party last Saturday night at Poetic Skate Shop in Farmington where a buoyant crowd gathered to fund raise for a new half moon pipe to be installed in the back room. Half moon pipe to be installed in the back room! The pipe will be tucked in between two walls, so there will be a “wall ride” as owner Adrian Ware termed it, where they just might do the occasional “sticker slap” contest (the winner's whoever slaps the sticker highest).
Adrian explained to me that the pipe will be fabricated from pool coping which is like marble, ergo “there's more stuff to skate on it, and it sounds better when you grind it. Kids can come in here, especially when it's raining, learn some new tricks and then take them out to the streets. And it's free, whenever the shop's open the kids can come back here and skate. Helmets and waivers for the kids under 21. They're always welcome to skate here.”
I asked guest Rusty Brotherton what skating meant to him. “It means everything! I've been doing it since I was 5 or 6 years old, it's what I'm all about. It's hard to put it into words. It's a lifestyle, I found it, I enjoyed it, loved it and have never looked back at anything else. I love all of it, the freedom, the true freedom, zig-zagging back and forth, and having fun. You can go as fast as you want down a hill. You can go to any random place and have a conversation with another skater, a stranger, and it's an instant connection. It's like a brotherhood.”
Cody Hardie, 17, goes to Central High School and lives in Park Hills, and says he's been at the shop every single day since it's opened. Having had a back injury in the past he gravitated to skate boarding. “I'm not worried about injuries in skating,” he explained. “You set goals, but you're not competing with other people, you're besting yourself. It's one of the most peaceful sports.”
I asked Cody what it means to have a shop like this in the area. “It's fantastic! We don't have to get cheap knock-offs at Walmart. It's a great relief to have access to top-of-the-line merchandise. Adrian's a cool guy. He orders the best stuff, goes out of the way to get the stuff for you.” Rusty added that “Adrian's opening up professional skating opportunities. He got me out there to the point where certain companies will say I want this dude to ride for me. He does this for other kids too.” Cody said the shop's “a cool place to meet other people. When it rains, people come from all over. Today there were some kids up here from Poplar Bluff.”
We all came out of the back room where we'd gathered to watch painter John DeBold put the finishing touches on his wall art, Pop Art-inflected images he'd created for Poetic of a screamin' red rooster and a cupcake skull named Sweet Tooth. The main room, where more of John's artworks hung, had filled up with stylish young people, and even before the musicians played the energy was charged. “Skateboarding, art and music go together like peanut butter and jelly,” Adrian quipped. He's planning on having bi-weekly evenings at the shop where people can hang out and talk and see a new art show like the current solo show featuring John's paintings and drawings, maybe listen to some live music. “I want to bring the kids here the best things I've experienced with skateboarding in the city. So far, we've got two kids sponsored from a company in New Jersey.”
|Poetic Skate Shop in Farmington, MO, Photo by Steve Hull|
Spirited groups of three, four, and five mostly young men were actively looking at and talking about John's work, moving up and down the exhibit, pointing back and forth to various images, animatedly discussing what they were seeing. How many Dumbo and Chelsea gallery shows have I been to where people don't extend even more than a cursory glance to what's before them on the walls, like the art is besides the point? At Poetic Skate Shop in Farmington, Missouri, they were reaching for it!
I shared with Adrian the thought that young people don't really need all this discipline frustrated adults were always looking to impose on them. Rather they need challenge; and if challenged, they'll happily discipline themselves. To which he immediately replied, “Exactly. These kids have got each other's backs. If one kid needs something for his skateboard but he's short a few bucks, out come the wallets.”
There was talk that the next show just might include Steve Hull's photographs matched musically with a reggae dub. Everyone's welcome, especially men my own age in need of reminding what the exuberance of spine-tingling freedom feels like in zig-zagging motion. And please feel free to reach into your own wallets and peel off a couple of freshly-minted twenties for the cause--installing the half moon pipe in the back room at Poetic, and putting some sweet and toothy smiles on some random kids' faces.
Poetic Skate Shop is located at 1 North Jefferson Street in Farmington, MO. Soloists, bands, artists and shoppers can reach proprietor Adrian Ware at 636-359-1325.