THE SKATE-PUNK SENSIBILITY OF ‘SPARE CHANGE’ AT THE HIBBLETON OFFERS SOME REAL POLITICAL CAPITAL
BY DAVE BARTON
Published on March 11, 2009 at 11:04am
‘Change’ We Can Believe In
The skate-punk sensibility of ‘Spare Change’ at the Hibbleton offers some real political capital for these uncertain times
What a disappointment punk was. While there were thoughtful, even intellectual aspects of the movement, the reflexively anti-authoritarian parts always seemed to win out. The music—and most conversations—were invariably Two Minutes Hate, the brainwashing technique featured in George Orwell’s 1984: You’d get a rush of guitars, a chorus of anger and a litany of political monsters with the simplest of simple-minded political slogans.
Considering the tremendous influence of punk on skater culture, honest personal and political reflection would be the last thing I’d expect at Hibbleton Gallery’s “Spare Change,” curator Jesse La Tour’s new exhibition featuring five artists directly connected with skateboarding. But it turns out that some of this work has some real creative and political heft.
Russ Pope’s titular painting leads off: a giant chessboard, pennies and dimes floating amid grimacing faces filled with distress, adrift in the game of life, broke and broken, barely cognizant of the red splatters at the bottom right of the picture. That dim anxiousness over impending violence is the overriding theme flowing through much of Pope’s displayed work: Man In the Hat is another head separated from its body, this time facing a wash of Army-fatigue-green nothingness. Blue paint—or is it blue blood?—runs in a torrent from his neck to the bottom of the painting. Orange Crush is six cartoony, orange faces in front of an angry, red background, throwing worried, sidelong glances at a glowering face in the middle, a simmering bomb waiting to explode. Life in Orange County, perhaps? Safe Camp is divided into four sections: Big Brother eyes staring out from a swatch of scarlet in the upper left, barbed wire to the right, bottom left a circle being penetrated by an arrow aimed at the surrendering Mr. Peanut figure in the bottom right. The bowling-pin-shaped people of Pins are all thick black lines, immobile, panicky looks aimed at one another as they await the rolling ball knocking them into the gutter.
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