It was an historic occasion for the industries of surfing and skateboarding October 4th during our 3rd LABELLAB Exhibition at Crewest Gallery in downtown Los Angeles showcasing the artwork, photography, original skateboards and surfboards, and surfers/skaters themselves–the Z-Boys, a.k.a. the Zephyr team. The only gathering ever created for the legendary troupe brought out fans of all ages who were there to not only pay homage to the birth of skateboarding (circa 1975-85), but to see the originators themselves, including Craig Stecyk III, Chris Cahill, Cris Dawson, Roger Doucette, Skip Engblom, Cesario “Block” Montano, Peggy Oki, Nathan Pratt, Allen Sarlo, Wentzle Ryme IV, Paul Conolatmia, and Jeff Ho. While some came the day before to the private reception, and others are scheduled to attend the closing party, the opening event did have a large number of the OG’s of Dogtown, also known as Zephyr court in Ocean Park -a small, gritty intersection between Venice and Santa Monica made famous by the Stacey Peralta documentary “Dogtown and the Z-Boys” and the Zephyr surfshop as the birthplace of skateboarding.
Even though the team is now looking slightly older, the entire crew still had that gleam in their eyes which, as Skip “Skipper” Engblom called “our rebellious nature.” Interestingly, when everyone was together, conversation often reflected not only on what went down during the Dogtown days (which you had to hear to believe), but also stories about “The Skipper.” It went something like this, “Oh, you have to hear that from the Skipper.” Or “The best person to tell you that one is The Skipper.” And finally, “Where’s the Skipper? He’s got stories ” The Skipper did finally show up towards the end of the evening and it was a mad rush then by media to capture a group photo and Fuel TV, which filmed the entire event, to capture another legendary interview.
When I asked Craig Stecyk what he thought of so many Z-Boys altogether in the same gallery with their various artwork, surfboards, watercolors, skate decks, and images, he replied in his philosophical manner, “Now that’s a very interesting question. I do see some of these guys around but yes, since you put it like that, this is rather a unique occasion. How do I feel? That’s an interesting question ” As one of the more popular Z-Boys in the group, Craig was humble enough in his interview to basically put the fame back on the other Z-Boys at the autograph session. “I just happened to be there during that time, and recorded some of what was going on,” he explained about his own fame.
As most people know who have watched the documentary, the Z-Boy team was eventually cherry-picked by other brands capitalizing on the movement over time, going in their separate directions and not all have been lucky. Jay Adams, arguably the best skater in the group, has been in and out of jail in Hawaii. Wentzle Ryme, who flew in from Cape Cod, MA, where he owns a clam farm and catering business told me straight-up, “My family got me out of there [Dogtown] because I was getting too messed up.” Drugs played a big role in the scene of rebel surfers and skateboarders, which some of the guys talked about and which may probably account for how certain Z-boys are fairing better than others. Still, it’s all a part of what made that time legendary.
What’s interesting is that while Craig Stecyk may get the most attention for his photography and artwork, most of the members of the Z-boy crew are extremely creative as seen from the exhibition including original board displays from shapers Jeff Ho and Skip Engblom. Front and center, for example, is the Zephyr board that Nathan Pratt, who curated the show and miraculously got the team together and has kept the Z-Boy brand alive, actually used to ride, complete with ragged wood edges, handpainted Zephyr logo, and footstraps. Cris Dawson’s unique Giclee prints where incredible for their collage effects of legendary Z-Boys, including one of Jeff Ho, re-assembled to create an altogether new take on photography and printing, and Roger Doucette, the legendary surfboard shaper, created a series of water colors that captured his love of the ocean. Peggy Oki’s sculptures of waves, water colors, and painted whale surfboard were another special collection. Chris Cahill’s more tactile pieces included copper over polyester resin of a shortboard surfboard, plus various wood, poly resin acrylic art pieces.
By teaming up with Crewest Gallery, THELABLELLAB exhibition “Z-Boy Show–Direct from the Source” provided the necessary backdrop to make a showcase like this work. Known as the top graffiti and art gallery in Los Angeles, it was the ideal location to curate vintage skate photography, artwork, sneakers, decks T-shirts, and posters in completely refreshing dimensions. The show also featured oversized prints from photographer Block, including shots of historic street culture moments including several images of a much younger Snoop Dogg.
As a special feature, we closed-off the street in front of Crewest for the opening reception with an exhibition of the best vintage lowrider cars from the Classic Lowriders Car Club. Other big hits included the autograph signing session and top skateboarders from downtown doing live maneuvers in a pipe, plus of course live music featuring a line-up of core rappers from LA. Other features included a unique display of the giant Stratocaster or “Artocaster” painted by Craig Stecyk and only ever featured before in the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland. Fans could also score one-of-kind merch such as posters, limited-edition T-shirts, stickers, painted slip-ons, and more.
The show runs until November 2 (with a closing party November 1st) so there’s still time to check it out. Location: Crewest Gallery, 110 Winston (between 4th and 5th), Los Angeles CA 90013; (213) 627-8272.
About THELABELLAB: THELABELLAB.com is an Online Directory Network exclusive for independent and emerging fashion brands, retailers, industry vendors. Created by Label Networks, a leading global youth street culture intelligence media company, THELABELLAB.com allows members to quickly create profiles, find, and connect with like-minded people, and gain information and news in the independent street and contemporary fashion industries in order to do business better. THELABELLAB Exhibitions are on-going event series as an extension of featured brands in THELABELLAB.com, providing an opportunity for live showcases of fashion artists in street and contemporary culture to showcase their brands in a completely new, artistic dimension. For more information about THELABELLAB or to see who has joined the movement, go to www.thelabellab.com; (323) 630-4000.
Autograph session with Cris, Chris, Nathan, Wentzle, and Paul.
Young skater fans waiting for autographs from the Z-boys.
Z-boy brand slip-on sneaks–limited-editions.
Peggy Oki–the original Z-Girl circa late %uFFFD70%uFFFDs.
Peggy Oki painted surfboard.
Roger Doucette, legendary surfboard shaper%uFFFDs watercolors.
Man One of Crewest Gallery and Craig Stecyk III with spray paint cans and a Jeff Ho surfboard in the background.
Z-Boys Paul, Wentzle, Nathan, and Chris.