Don Pendleton has found a couple of reasons to return to his college town this year.
The graphic artist from Ravenswood, W.Va., a graduate of Marshall University, appeared at the Huntington Museum of Art in April as a guest artist in the Walter Gropius series to lecture about his work and to lead a three-day workshop for artists.
He will return Saturday for a skateboarding demonstration at the museum, where a collection of his work, titled “Paris Signs Presents: Fine Lines: The Artwork of Don Pendleton,” will continue to be displayed through June 1.
Pendleton, 43, of Dayton, Ohio, grew up watching his father paint and took an interest in art at 9. Five years later, he started skateboarding and became an amateur, sponsored skateboarder. In 1992, he had a serious ankle injury that caused him to put the focus back on art.
Since earning an art degree in 1994, he has worked for Alien Workshop and spearheaded the creative and marketing team of skateboarding giant Element Skateboards from his home base. Now, he is a freelance commercial and fine artist whose client list includes Zero Skateboards, LG Electronics, Mountain Dew, Gatorade, Pearl Jam, Nike 6.0 and DC Shoes. He also has had solo shows around the world. In 2009, a documentary film titled “Little Giants” chronicled his life and work.
How do you see life as a skater and life as an artist going together?
I think both of those activities feed on creativity and there’s some level of expression involved in each. Especially in the early days. I never saw skateboarding as a “sport” but more of an activity that was driven by creativity. And the culture was so closely tied together (the clothing, music, art, skateboarding) that they were inseparable as far as I was always concerned.
What inspires you as an artist?
Inspiration always changes. For years, it was always bugs, insects, animals and patterns in nature. I think there is always a personal angle to everything created so it can depend on what types of books I’m reading at the time, what music I’m listening to or what’s going on in my life. Similar to any other type of drawing or painting. If it doesn’t flow, then I just take a step back and work on something else until an idea comes. I had a rep who described my work as organic cubism and that always sounded pretty good to me so that’s one way to describe it that seems fitting.
What medium do you use?
For my paintings, I use acrylic paint, mostly because it dries quickly and it’s a medium I was always comfortable working with. When I was in college, I couldn’t really afford oils so we were given a choice and acrylic was just a natural choice because it was cheaper and easier to work with. Most of my work ends up as screen prints and I have worked with those for over 20 years. I’ve done a little bit of everything, from prints to sculpture to murals, paper cutting, etc. I think the approach is the same for each different medium so it’s fun to do something other than painting once in a while.
What will your role be in the skateboarding demo?
My days of getting gnarly on a skateboard are behind me and it’s important for me to keep my wrists healthy so for me, the event is an excuse to get together with other local skaters, kind of see how the local scene has developed in Huntington and Charleston and nearby areas and give people a reason to consider the upcoming proposed skatepark in Huntington. My appearance there is more of a personal thing to see some old friends and help out however I can to where people have a fun time there.
LEE WARD can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (606) 326-2661.