If he hadn't already proven his artistic and curatorial know-how before recent shows with photographer Bri Cimino or painter Reyes Padilla in his Beals & Co. Showroom gallery (830 Canyon Road, 357-0441), Bobby Beals sure as hell will with his upcoming benefit, the second annual Skateopolis at Downtown Subscription (3 pm Friday June 2. Free. 376 Garcia St., 983-3085). An offshoot of Kamagraph, Beals' nonprofit skateboard company, Skateopolis brings fine art to skateboard decks, which are auctioned off to benefit the Future Men Project, a local nonprofit that trains young men in the ways of life. And though Beals may be relatively new to the world of skating, he says he takes its lessons seriously and totally wants to inspire youths. We can get on board with that, so we met up with Beals and said, "Hey bro, can we ask you some questions?"
What exactly is Skateopolis?
It's a show that we coined the name of last year for Kamagraph to give back to the community. Last year, we had 50 artists paint 50 skateboard decks—some sculpted on them, we had no guidelines—and we hung them at Downtown Subscription for two months. When we made sales, 50 percent went to the artists and the rest went to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. This year ... [Initiate Skateboarding owner] Damon Archuletta has been doing mentorships with preteens and teenagers that teach them how to cook, how to survive in the world, how to apply for jobs, and I needed to do something like that.
OK, so can you clear up what Kamagraph is?
A kamagraph is this old French press from the 1880s that could duplicate original art, but 99 percent of the time it would destroy the original. And I thought, 'That's really interesting,' so, my whole concept of skateboarding and skateboarders is that they kind of break the mold of what's original. It's an idea or expression related to skate art and culture. I've been doing the art world for about 15 years, and it was something completely opposite to that for me to start a skateboard company. It fulfilled this part of me that was really important for me to have. I grew up in punk rock culture, and [Kamagraph] isn't really the Beals & Co. persona, but it also fulfilled the business part of it. Doing Kamagraph, I've met so many great people that are always giving back to people and to kids, and I was like, 'I have to do this."
You go into a shop and you look at the wall, and it's a lot of T&A, but I wanted to do fine art and really ask the artists to really think about the concepts they were creating. It's interesting, because I'm curating one piece [from an artist] instead of a whole show. I don't want to just be a 'cool' skateboard company. I mean, I want people to think it's cool, but in a heartfelt way. It got me out there skating in the last few years and, to me, what I've learned through this process is that I've fallen a lot in my career but, and it's true, you have to fall to learn the trick.