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Interview: Dan Kneeshaw

Anyone who knows Dan knows he rips on a skateboard. But sometimes when guys are really good at skateboarding, they act like jerks for some reason.
 
Well, Dan is the opposite of that. He’s genuinely a really nice guy. As a Calgary-based sales rep for Vans in Alberta, he has a pretty sweet job. Do we even need to mention he’s a multi-talented musician that is always in demand by several bands at a time? Read on to learn more about Dan.

Photo by Jeff Thorburn

Where are you from?

I was born and lived in Saskatchewan until I was 9. Then we moved to BC (Lumby, Vernon). Did all my growing up, skating and trouble making there.

How long have you been skating?

I started skating when I was 6-7 or so? My older step brother had a skateboard in the house growing up, and the second I saw it, I knew exactly what to do with it. Been obsessed ever since.

Where do you usually skate? Any favourite spots or parks?

You will usually find me at Huntington Hills park. That bowl is one of my favourites ever. I live super close to Southwood, and its growing on me. I go there when I want to pretend I can still skate street.. Favourite parks? Polson, and Coldstream in Vernon. I’ve put in some serious hours at those places.

Who do you skate with?

I grew up in the time when skating wasn’t really cool. So I skated mostly alone for like 10-12 years almost? Even now I usually just go to the spot, or park and I will just skate with who ever happens to be there. But I actually really enjoy skating alone, as weird as that may seem. Just always done it on my time, and my terms. Don’t get it twisted though, I still love skating with and running into the homies at all the parks! Riley Boland, Jesse Ingrilli, and Ben Renton and I seem to skate a lot together these days. Its pretty rad!

What brought you to Calgary?

That is a funny/long story.. But here is the shorter version. I had a pretty crippling addiction issue in my late teens that I am pretty open about. But I had been clean for a year and a bit, and needed a nice change.. I packed up my 93 Toyota Tercel with all my earthly belongings, and I had two choices. First was Vancouver with a place to stay in a packed party house, with no work or stability but lots of friends. Second was Calgary, where I had a room to rent and a job, but I had one friend in the entire city… So I flipped a quarter in my driveway. Heads=Calgary, Tails= Vancouver.. The rest is history. I made the right choice.

Photo by Tim Nelson

You work as a sales rep for Vans. How did you end up with a job like that? How long have you been doing that for?

I got extremely lucky.. I worked at skate shops for close to 8-9 years or so? Give or take.. The old sales rep (Stefan G) started giving me sample shoes every once in a while. To help push the shoes at the shop, and sort of ignite that fire, you know? It helped me out, more than he could possibly know.. So when Stefan left, the new guy (my now Boss) grandfathered me onto his sample flow program, and was super cool about me grabbing stuff when I needed it. Eventually I had left the shops, and was repping for another company at the time, and had called Dan (my Boss) about something. I happened to call him on the day that his sub-rep quit for another company. So we talked about it, decided we should do lunch the next day. By the end of that day I got an offer I couldn’t refuse.

A lot of people don’t know that it’s possible to make a living with skateboarding in some way in Calgary. What advice would you give to people that want to work in the skate industry?

Its totally possible. It just may look different to everyone. Wether thats working at a shop, starting up your own company, or what ever. Just don’t expect skateboarding to pay the bills. There are some people who skate around with a chip on their shoulder, giving the vibe they deserve a sponsorship or something. Skateboarding doesn’t owe you (anyone) anything. I believe that if you put your head down, work as hard as you can, on what ever you are passionate about, things will happen. Those things may not happen over night, and it may seem defeating at some points, but its all worth it. I owe everything I have, to skateboarding, and hard work.

You must get asked about sponsorship a lot. Why do you think so many kids just want to be sponsored? How many will actually make it? Any advice for kids who want to get hooked up?

Yeah, the sponsorship thing. This one is a tough one. If I had it my way, I would hook everyone up. Unfortunately, thats not possible. However, these are the things that I personally look for if a spot on the team opens up. A good attitude, is first and foremost for me. I don’t really want some one who’s focusing boards, or screaming at kids at the skate park to be representing my team. Gotta be approachable, friendly, and respectful. Second, style. Good style, weird style, but mostly I want to see YOUR style. I can go watch a million youtube videos of carbon copy skaters that all look/push/skate the same. Thats boring though, I want to see what YOU can do, and how YOU do it different. Third, skill of course. Push the limits, push yourself harder, get out of your comfort zone.

I think sponsorship to some is like a status symbol maybe? Im not sure. I don’t want to give some one something, when they aren’t grateful for it, or use it to put others down, if that makes sense? I want it to go to someone that needs it, and deserves it. Someone who has been grinding, and working for it.

As for who, and how many will make it.. Thats all up to them. I want them all to make it! I want my house to be littered with pro boards from kids who made it from Calgary. The caliber of skateboarding talent in this city, is astronomical. Everyday I am left scratching my head watching some young one annihilate the skate park. But Canadians gotta make here first, then they have to win over the states. Its not an easy task, but you can do it!! I believe in you! haha. Filming is huge. Get as many clips as you can. And photos too. Seems to be a dying art form unfortunately, but they are so important. And do your best to not post everything immediately to the internet!

Some advice to those looking to get hooked up(as if this answer wasn’t long enough). Like I said before. Attitude, goes a long way. Be nice to each other. Be supportive of our community. Be respectful of our parks, and spots. Skate as hard, and as often as possible. Film/shoot as much as you can. And mostly, have FUN! Thats what its really all about.

Photo by Cole Hadley

You’re involved in the music scene too. How long have you been playing?

Music has always gone hand in hand with skateboarding for me. I started playing guitar when I was 10, and I’ve been obsessed with it as well for most my life. I just have one band going at the moment, we go by Monolith A.B. Its a doom metal project I have been working on for 4 years or so. We are almost ready to record our first full-length album. We already did it once, and it was lost due to a computer error (another story, for another time). But we are excited to get down to it, and get it out finally.

What else are you into besides skating and music?

Motorcycles have been a huge part of my life since I was a kid. Fixing them, or riding them, I just love being around them. I also do a bit of Fly Fishing when I get the chance.

Any thanks/shout outs?

Thanks to my fiance Jess Doyle, Mama bear, and my sisters Jacklyn and Jenny for putting up with me. Those are the strongest women I have ever met, and they amaze me everyday.

Shoutouts to Mike Sharp, Nick Tempel, Dan Anderson, Stefan Goulet, Vans Canada, Arlen Smith, The Palomino, Blue Montgomery, Ben Renton, Riley Boland, Jesse Ingrilli, all the Huntington Hills locals, every one who has ever said whats up at the skate park, and anyone who has even been able to come to one of our shows. If we are friends, or acquaintances I am glad you are in my life.

Interview: Chad Baker


We caught up with long time Calgary ripper Chad Baker to see what he’s been up to. With banging parts in Beer Storm 1 and 2, and tons of crazy Instagram clips, Chad is always up to something wild on his board. Learn more about Chad and his Skate for Phillippines project. All photos by Liam Glass.

When did you start skating?
I started skating in grade 7 I do believe!
Were you born in Calgary?
Yep I’m a born and raised true Calgarian.

Tell us about Skate for Phillipines. How could someone get involved or donate?
Skate For Philippines is a thing my friends and I started, basically we just wanted to be able to give back to the skate community by collecting skate gear. I helped a friend who’s from the Philippines last year and he was able to bring down a bunch of skate stuff for the kids out there! He said it went great but they needed more, so that’s when I got the ball rolling for this.

You can donate any gear to Mission or get a hold of myself and I usually go meet people for donations. Yeah I plan to go out to the Philippines and hand deliver the gear myself, I can’t wait to see all the smiling faces. I’m also trying to start a thing where you can sponsor a child and send them a complete and other stuff along with it!

Where are your favourite places to skate?
My favourite place to skate would definitely have to be California, but skating Calgary with the homies is always the best!

 Any trips planned this year? 
As for trips, me and the boys are going to do a lot of travelling this summer. We’ve got a few projects in the go that we’re all pretty stoked on!
 

Thanks/shout outs.
Big thanks to all my sponsors! Almost, Globe, Tensor, Dwindle Distribution, Remind Insoles via Trading Post sales, Artical Clothing,  and Mission Skate Shop! And a huge shout out to my homies Steve G, Ryan, Riley, Adrian, Rob, Steve and everyone else who I skate with– you all kill it!!


Calgary Skateboarding History in Swerve Magazine

Today’s edition of Swerve Magazine includes a great article about Calgary’s skateboarding history. It covers early skateparks, founding figures like Chuck Bell and John and Barry Hiebert, along with some general skateboarding information. Pick up Swerve in today’s Calgary Herald or click the image below to read:

Photo by Brent Mykytyshyn / Swerve

Photo by Brent Mykytyshyn / Swerve

New Brighton Skatepark To Be Poured next week!

The New Brighton park is looking good! Concrete will be poured next week!

New Brighton 9 New Brighton 8 New Brighton 7 New Brighton 6 New Brighton 5 New Brighton 4 New Brighton 3 New Brighton 2 New Brighton 1

 

Updated Southwood Photos

The tarps have been removed from the Southwood skatepark and we’re waiting to hear back from the city regarding completion date. We’ve posted more photos (thanks to Benji W) on our Facebook page:

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10 Year Old Jett Meets With Councillor Woolley

We were present at a meeting between 10 year old student, Jett, his mom, and Ward 8 Councillor Woolley. Jett is passionate about skateboarding and has done a lot of research on indoor skateparks.

With all the new outdoor skateparks being developed, we’re optimistic that the need for an indoor skatepark will be addressed. The Skateboard Amenities Strategy recommends an indoor skatepark for the city:

“Find a suitable location for one or more indoor skateparks or wheeled sport facilities to comprise an area of at least 1,850 m2 (20,000 ft2). An indoor facility may be located in an existing building or be a purpose built facility that is clustered with a recreation centre. Indoor facilities should serve both skateboarders, bmx, inline skaters and provide a fitness track for roller skaters. See page 50.” (Skateboard Amenities Strategy, 2011, p. 9)

woolley jett maria

Millennium Park Photos

Marlene H. AKA ImageMaven has posted some photos showing the dry (and snowy) portions at Millennium Park currently:

Huntington Hills Construction Photos

Here are some new photos from Huntington Hills skatepark construction:

Calgary Skateboarder Rescued After Whale-Watching Boat Sinks

Dwayne Mazereeuw and his family.

Dwayne Mazereeuw and his family.


Well known local skater, Dwayne Mazereeuw and his wife Elisa were on the whale-watching boat that sank near Tofino last month.
You may recognize Dwayne as construction director of New Line Skateparks and as one of the founders of True North Skateboards.
Dwayne and his wife were rescued by people from a First Nations community called Ahousaht. Coincidentally, there is a crowdfunding campaign to build a skatepark in Ahousaht, which Dwayne has now committed to help build as a thank you for saving his and his wife’s lives.
You can learn more about Dwayne and Elisa’s harrowing experience and rescue as well as the skatepark fundraising campaign on the Facebook page they’ve set up to raise awareness for the skatepark project:

www.facebook.com/ahousahtskatepark

Skatepark Artists: Eric & Mia

A key component of the Skateboard Amenities Strategy is art. All of the skateparks planned in the strategy will be public spaces and successful public spaces often incorporate art.
Eric & Mia are the artists who were selected by a panel as part of the city’s Public Art Program. They’ve been a team for over seven years and their work has appeared all over North America as well as Europe. Learn more about them here and by reading this short interview we conducted with them:

Is art needed at skateparks? Have you seen any skatepark art or skateboard-related art that inspires you?

Depends on the art! Let’s be honest, skateparks (and cities in general) can probably survive without another mural by a public artist and some kids from a community that depicts “skateboarding”. You know what we are talking about! It is a bit of a sassy answer, but it is true; skateparks don’t need another mural. And we are very skeptical of sanctioned graffiti even when it does look amazing. We know that there are a lot of skateparks with sculptures that can be skated and these sculptures can be pretty sweet. It is not only a visual art piece, but an odd piece of terrain. But for us the role of public art is to both celebrate and ask hard questions of a specific site and the people that use that site. This is especially true of temporary public art, which we make.

We aren’t skaters (though Eric was when he was younger), but when we travel to other cities we always try to visit some skateparks or watch people skating in the city. We love it. The concrete is really a blank canvas and the skaters are like living, moving sculptures. We haven’t been to Merida, Spain, but there is a park there called Merida Factory Youth Movement. We came across it a few years ago in a magazine or book or something and have been obsessed with it ever since. The design is crazy and it provides a social space for youth. That is the kind of art we like. Art that makes spaces for people to be in the city together.

Now all of that said, we are really drawn to the DIY ethic and aesthetic of early skate culture. We share this with skaters. We might not be as punk as some DIY folk, but we are no less invested in these processes– it is often where our work starts from.3

Why do you think art and skateboarding go along so well together?

There is the obvious answer, that skateboarding isn’t just skating, it is a culture. Out of its early counter culture roots skateboarding was and continues to be defined by strong visual elements, we know this. Visual art, photography, video, graffiti, etc. are inherent to skateboarding. Skaters are creative people and art is one way of expressing the identities of individuals within the scene and of skateboarding itself.

But we are performance artists, so we look at skateboarding from another angle. Yes, we love the visual elements, but we are also interested in the behaviours and movements of skaters. That means the tricks, the way skaters use and misuse the city, and how they engage with each other. Put another way, we think about skateboarding as being performance. The movements of skaters, the tricks that they do, and how they ride are, for instance, a form of “dance”–they are kin(a)esthetic. Most skaters will probably hate being called dancers, we’re sure! But it is a metaphor; we aren’t talking about tutus and ballet and things that happen in theatres. We’re talking about performance that is experimental and improvised, performance that happens outside of traditional spaces, performance that re-imagines how we relate to the city and authority, and performances that happen in the everyday. The movements and strategies that skaters create so that they can engage and navigate the city (and people in the city) are a form of choreography. And these movements—- both physical and cultural—- are beautiful to watch! Maybe skateboarding is more like guerrilla theatre? Anyhow, this is only the beginning of thinking about skating as performance, we could go on forever about it. Maybe thinking about how skateboarding is a performance in everyday life is some high level stuff to talk about, but for us it is fascinating and we think most skaters know what we are talking about.

To answer your question more directly: skateboarding is art!

What do you have in store for the new skateparks?

We can’t release exactly what we are doing for the skateparks yet, because there is a larger process that we are working through right now to have our projects approved. But we can give you some hints.

Often times when people think of public art, they think about murals or sculptures (or blue rings…has anybody from the community tried to skate that thing yet? Get on it!). But that isn’t what we do. Instead our work is all about social engagement. If some artists use paint as their medium, we work with people and places and relationships. So hint one: no murals, no sculptures!

We asked ourselves a question at the outset of the creative process: what does a citizen skater look and act like in Calgary? We spent a lot of time talking to different people from the skate community, the City, and the neighbourhoods where the parks are going to be located. We were really inspired by meeting so many different people over the past year. The projects we are proposing came out of these meetings and respond directly to the needs of each group. We have to tell you that we were really surprised by the things that came out of each camp—they were basically all the same concerns, but from different angles. Skaters, community associations, the City, and the park designers were all concerned about who was going to monitor the parks and how this is going to be done; each group wants there to be a broad base of users; and there is a desire to know and explain who the park users are going to be.

We are proposing three different projects that address these points. Our work always encourages people to participate in some form or fashion and that is true with these projects as well. There will be one project that asks the skate community to work with us on introducing as many skaters as possible to the residents of neighbourhoods where the parks are located. A second project looks at how we can get more women skateboarding in Calgary. And the third considers what a relationship between the police, skaters, and the skateparks can look like. They are all super playful projects that bring together different people to consider the skateparks. We are planting seeds that will take time to grow.unnamed2

Have you done anything like this in the past?

Yes and no. We have been making temporary public art together for some time now, but no one creative process or project is ever the same. Most of the projects we have created respond to a specific issue or location, but are shorter term. They are quick interventions in to the city that last a few hours to a couple of weeks. The projects we are proposing for the skateparks follows in this tradition, but has required a much larger process of initial engagement. What is also different this time around, is the scope of the project. We are dealing with eight neighbourhoods and the skate community. It is a lot of “ground” to cover, a lot of people to work with, and so many different agendas to consider. With the help of the different communities involved we have identified some concerns and are proposing projects to address these concerns in a playful, but consequential manner. This process and these projects are challenging us as artists. A lot of growth is happening for us right now and we are excited.

What artists influence you?

This is a tricky question, because although we know about a lot of different artists, we don’t spend a lot of time thinking about them. If we had to pick our top three artistic influences though, they would be Miranda July, Augusto Boal, and Sonia Delaunay. But most of the people that influence us are not artists. They are Mia’s grandma, Eric’s grandma, and Eric’s great aunt. We’ve written about the role of these women in our lives in other places. These women have really shaped our thinking. They have strong politics or ways of living in the world that are inspiring to us. Our pals matter a lot too. None of our artist friends make work that looks like anybody else’s, but it is the camaraderie we have with these rad dudes that influence how we work and interact with people when doing social engagement projects. We also read a lot of books about cities, cultural geography, ethnography, and performance.

What other projects are you working on?

We are taking a project called Hunter, Gatherer, Purveyor to Toronto in June as part of the Luminato Festival. Basically we walk around three different neighbourhoods for a couple of weeks and collect weeds, flowers, roots, and bark from the plants that we find. We use the vegetation to flavour popsicles. The argument we are making is that you can taste the difference between communities: what does a rich community taste like v.s. a working class neighbourhood. We love this project because we get to talk to so many different people, to explore communities, to feel uncomfortable, trespass in peoples yards, and generally ask hard questions about a city and its geography.
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When can Calgary skateboarders expect to see your work at the skateparks?
TBD!

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