Anthony Pappalardo (the writer who skates, not the pro skater of the same name) has been doing some of our favorite writing on skating & the stuff young people do in general (plus he's great on Twitter). When we heard he was curating a show this month in Manhattan, we knew we had to hit him up to see what it's all about:
Right away, the name of the show is No Trend - where’d the title come from?
The name hit me during New York Fashion Week. You see memes and links going around of some fucking goofball in platform boots standing on a ramp in couture, then Thrasher is trying to sue someone over a font they didn’t create, and trend pieces, and just the inundation of “the intersection of skate and fashion.”
That’s the world we live in and that’s totally fine, but I have infinitely more admiration for people who just make things because that’s how they are wired. With every reference or theft of skating’s aesthetic, someone would tell me how skating is so “on trend” – purposely fucking with me, and I thought, nah, it’s “no trend.”
It’s also a blatant reference to the extremely disruptive punk band No Trend, who existed to annoy, knowing it wasn’t the path to success, but rather how they wanted to express themselves.
What got you motivated to do this show?
I knew Ben Sisto, who is a producer/coordinator at the Ace Hotel from his DIY promotion and projects in Boston. He approached me a year ago about doing something skate related in the space, as some people at the Ace have a connection to skating and are friends with Giovanni Reda. I initially talked to Reda and he was really helpful, mentioning he’d be happy to contribute to a show, but it was tough to wrap my head around producing/curating something a year out.
Originally, I wanted the gallery to turn into this unexpected space filled with skate ephemera—old cameras, the actual cassettes from Zoo York Mixtape, maybe a brick from the Banks. I thought it would be dope to have the gallery filled with a bunch of things that look like junk to the average human, with captions or a catalog explaining how significant they are to NYC and skate history over all.
As 2017 approached, I put a tighter wrapper on the idea and thought it would be cooler and more of a fit to just use the space like I use editorial. Everyone in this show is someone I’ve worked with or someone whose work was so interesting to me, that I wanted to write about them, to learn more.
I look at No Trend as a physical portfolio that shows what I’m passionate about. When I get an opportunity to write, my first impulse is to find things I’m psyched about, so when I find people who are doing things that inspire me, I really feel like it creates an energy. I wanted to amplify what everyone is doing by having them all together in this space, so people can see their work. I’m reticent to really even feel like a curator, as it’s about art made by Cole Giordano, Pep Kim, Jonathan Mehring, Lou Sarowsky, Winston Tseng, Tyrrell Winston, and Allen Ying.
We know you as a writer, is this the first time you’ve curated an art show?
I collaborated with Nathan Nedorostek and Max G Morton on two books: Radio Silence: A Selected Visual History of American Hardcore and Live… Suburbia!. We promoted both titles with traveling art shows, including a multimedia one at Orchard’s extension gallery. This one wasn’t born out of a book project, but at the same time, it’s drawing from my writing. The biggest difference is that I’m trying to give them a platform, not me.
What was your process behind selecting this group of artists?
The first thing I became aware of during my time at art school was bullshit. You’d see some student shining a flashlight on a pile of rocks, trying to say it represents the struggle between class in the Midwest and think, “Okay, you legit forgot to work on your assignment until last night.”
Everyone in this show does things for a reason, whether it’s homage, humor, documentation, or just because they are exploring a medium and having a bunch of people together who are serious, talented, and unpretentious… in fucking New York City. Has that ever even happened?
I wanted it to be all people I met through skateboarding and who I knew more about their work than just being familiar with their images, etc. It’s easier for me to have some criteria or qualifiers, otherwise I’d be trying to have 30 people in a space that holds 10.
The artists featured in the show all seem to be connected to skateboarding. Was it your intent to tie this show into skate culture?
I swear to God, there isn’t a day where I don’t joke about “skart.” When people put things into categories, whatever they are—it’s an art show and everyone in it is “X”--it really marginalizes the work to me. My idea for No Trend was, “Hey, look at all these incredible pieces” and skating was the enabler/how we networked, but not the reason there’s a show.
Because we’re all skateboarders, we related and eventually worked together in some capacity, but it’s about work and output. I like that everyone in this show has deep roots in skating and visual expression--they’re not some established, big name pro searching for an identity through a vintage camera or some entry level painting set up.
I really suggest people look at the show in person and they’ll immediately get what I mean—jpegs are sick, but taking a few minutes to clear your head and just look at what people have made in a dedicated space is one of my favorite things on Earth. Because there’s some skate event what seems like every night, we take them for granted. New Yorkers are spoiled by all the art around us and I think it’s really important to breathe a little and take things in. I like how galleries smell.
Do you think skateboarding gives people a special set of insights that other people don't necessarily get?
I’d like to think we spend so much time analyzing things—how someone lands, what their hand looks like when they lock into a back tail, or stressing about how we cut our grip tape--that we have a pretty refined bullshit detector, but art is a tough one to judge. I was reading a comment someone left on Instagram saying that “all art is subjective” and I couldn’t disagree more. Good art or more importantly, effective art isn’t subjective. Instead, it influences you and makes you feel something that is intentioned. When people say that shit I either think they’re amateurs or lazy. It’s a disservice to people who spend their lives learning about art and culture. Why have critics for anything if that’s your opinion. Someone who spends 20 years developing their point of view and work is just as important as some bored pro skater who hurt his ankle and is now a photographer. Right?
How does the the Keenan Forever foundation come into play?
My immediate thought after talking to Ben was how this opportunity could benefit skating. We have a plethora of parks, there’s a lot of different initiatives and foundations, doing great community outreach, so it’s hard to hone in on one.
I knew that the Keenan Forever Foundation was just starting up and what I thought was a sick tie-in, was that Keenan’s contribution to skateboarding is so much greater that what was documented. He represents this amazing balance of style and humility, which again, is something rare in New York, let alone the world.
I couldn’t think of anything better to champion as an idea and hopefully benefit. Big thanks to Ray Maté for helping me link with Hannah at the foundation.
What do you want people to take away from this show?
A piece of it. Seriously, everyone in the show made something I’d want in my house, forever. The work is affordable and proceeds go to a good cause.
Follow Anthony on Twitter here, and if you're in NYC come to the closing party for No Trend on March 23rd at Ace Hotel.