Board to Death

Local Vernissage Turns Broken Skate Decks into Visual Art

Photo Ocean DeRouchie

I sat at a small table, studying the crowd and sipping on my Grolsch. The lighting was soft and the vibe welcoming at the Park Ave. café Chez Boris last Friday, as music pumped across painted skateboards hanging from the walls.

This was Escape Bored, the second skate art vernissage hosted by Chez Boris, and curated by the Montreal skater-artist-duo Wolfe Girardin Jodoin and Charles LeMoyne.

The tiny café boasted many nooks and crannies, all packed with warm bodies, smiling and chatting, hidden away from the crisp November evening. I sat, watching in awe of the congregation of people that had come together for the show. A warm, welcoming atmosphere blossomed out of the careening crowd, gathered to celebrate both skateboarding and visual art.

Before the show, Girardin Jodoin and LeMoyne sat down to talk about their upcoming event. Even though it is now nearly an annual full-fledged artistic vernissage (of course, maintaining the punk, skater aesthetic of piles of beer and garbage), initially Escape Bored was born of a beautifully simplistic origin: two friends chilling out.

“One time I just went up to Charles’ place and he was painting a board, and I was like ‘Yo, I wanna paint a board,’” Girardin Jodoin recalled fondly.

Here is the crux of Escape Bored: the mediums vary, from acrylic paint to 3-D paper, but each piece is a skateboard, and each board is completely one-of-a-kind.

One read “fanfuckingtastic” in neon pink letters. One, titled “The World Is Yours” was drowned in thick, yellow acrylic paint, with the words, “I can’t believe the cops haven’t called me yet,” etched in.

“We all have different styles, but the board as a surface brings everything together,” said LeMoyne.

The pair of curators were not alone—many Montreal artists had their designs featured on the two dozen or so boards. There was even a deck inspired by our fair city, made with copper rods and wood, by artist Catherine Gagnon. Centered on it was the classic Montreal clover.
“It took a sculptural direction. I started off with the Montreal logo because it has brought a lot of riders together,” said Gagnon on opening night.

Despite such heavy diversity, one theme remained abundantly present among all of the boards: the influence of street art.

“A lot of us are coming from a graffiti background,” said LeMoyne. “For me at least, it’s always an extra challenge to do something that has nothing to do with graffiti. I’m trying to use my name in a different way.”
Some of the board’s designs—including the aforementioned acrylic yellow wonder—draw their inspiration from funny stories.

“I did the one with the dude pissing all over the place. That’s my friend Will,” Girardin Jodoin happily explained. “He was super drunk and turned around and was peeing in front of everyone and traffic. And then, real quote, he said ‘I can’t believe the cops haven’t called me yet!’”
The boards-turned-canvases give decks a second life. A snapped deck, at best hung proudly from a skater’s wall, is suddenly offered an entirely new purpose.

“I break so many boards, and it kind of bums me out, but now that I have this as an outlet; it’s kind of the silver lining,” LeMoyne said of the thoughtful repurposing.

The event was packed, with attendees ranging from punk skater babes to proud parents. Though parents might feel out of place hanging around a half pipe, the skaters-turned-artists’ folks seemed at ease in a vernissage setting, drinking beer and mixing with the youth as if they were longtime friends.
“I was hoping for this, but not expecting it,” said Girardin Jodoin. It’s safe to say the turnout exceeded what the hosts anticipated. At the risk of editorializing—Escape Bored was turnt, packed with an assorted crowd of excited onlookers of all ages.

“It is eclectic,” said a proud LeMoyne between smug sips.

As the end of the evening rolled around, the crowd thinned into a circle to watch people attempt ollies and kickflips in the middle of the café—the rest was history.

You can get your healthy dose of skater visual art, beer and donuts at Chez Boris until the end of December.