SMLTWN Skate Shop hosts skateboard artshow

By Katie Finlon

Broken watches and skateboards—broken or not— took on new lives as pieces of artwork at Small Town (SMLTWN) Skate Shop, 229 E. Lincoln Highway.

SMLTWN hosted its sixth annual skateboard-inspired art show on Thursday. The show featured more than 40 artists, including Sharpie artist Justin McAllister. Ariel Ries, SMLTWN owner and NIU marketing alumna, said the majority of the artists came from the Midwest. However, there was one artist from New York and an artist from Florida who submitted their works for the show.

Most of those artists were present, and Ries said the show’s purpose was to kick off the upcoming skateboarding season.

“It celebrates skateboarding and art and the combination,” Ries said.

Chelsey Dever, 22, of DeKalb, a show collaborator and friend of Ries’s, said newcomers should expect to “find out a whole new point of view of what skateboarding means to skateboarders.”

Dever featured jewelry made from broken watch parts at the art show and Ries debuted jewelry made from broken skateboards.

“When it comes to the jewelry end of it, that’s my strong passion,” Dever said. “In connection with the show itself, my boyfriend is a super avid skateboarder and I’m really involved with the skateboarding community.”

Michael Sears, 25, of Peoria, debuted his work for the first time at the art show this year. He submitted three painted longboards. One of the patterns on his longboards was created by drying dish soap to the board and painting over it, but his favorite design had purple and green skulls on a black background. What’s unique about the pattern, Sears saud, is not one skull’s face is like any other. Each has a different expression and its own personality.

As admirers walked past the board, Sears said he takes the skulls pattern longboard out for his personal use from time to time.

“It’s an art piece that’s in motion,” Sears said. “It never just sits and gets gawked at; it’s actually a board that I actually ride personally.”

Matthew Piatt, 27, of Peoria, attended the art show to support fellow artists and small shops like SMLTWN.

“Supporting small-town businesses like that is the best thing you can do,” Piatt said. “Everything here is the same price as it is at the mall and you’re going to get more customer satisfaction out of a place like this, in my opinion.”

Piatt liked how all the projects at the show related to skateboarding somehow and how the pieces reflected the skateboarding community’s sense of togetherness.

“No matter what, everything’s connected, but yet everything’s totally different,” Piatt said. “That’s what I like about it: You can see the similarities in all these projects and you can also see the differences, but either way, it all comes together.”