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Artist builds skateboarder-friendly sculpture in Shreveport Common

Kate Archer Kent

Skateboarding icon Steve Olson is in the midst of a six-week artist residency with the Shreveport Regional Arts Council. The Los Angeles-based artist is crafting a "skateable sculpture" that will be installed in downtown’s Shreveport Common.

“It’s going to be unbelievable, and you’re going to have the first 'skateable sculpture' in Shreveport of this kind," Olson said, his mad scientist hair at home in a gritty downtown Shreveport studio where the sculpture is taking shape.

The wooden apparatus will form a series of X’s that will be accented in metal to serve as ramps. Olson began skateboarding in the late 1960s and gained notoriety for advancing pool and bowl skating. Today, he’s focused on his artwork -- tearing stuff up -- as he says. At 52, he’s also interested in keeping generations of skateboarders together – like family. He hopes his sculpture attracts the attention of the elite skateboarders.

“The skateboard teams travel and do tours. So, they could really start putting Shreveport on their map with the mindset that we’re in Dallas, we could shoot over three hours and skate that crazy thing Olson built," Olson said.

While in town, Olson is curating an exhibition featuring the works of eight other skateboarders who make art. They cross generations and Olson looks forward to having them all in Shreveport for Friday's opening. Perhaps, they’ll do some impromptu skateboarding in unconventional places that Olson already scoped out.

“In Shreveport,  I see that there are drainage ditches, and that’s from my era. I see them and think, Wow, there’s a lot of good ditches here. And all the guys coming in I say, Yeah, this place has mad ditches," Olson said with a smile.

The exhibit “Generationless: Skateboarders are Artists, Too” opens Friday, Jan. 31, and runs through March 29 at artspace. The yet unnamed "skateable sculpture" will be unveiled in Shreveport Common on Feb. 15, as part of the UNSCENE! art event series. It will be installed across from Municipal Auditorium.

Chuck Smith brings more than 30 years' broadcast and media experience to Red River Radio. He began his career as a radio news reporter and transitioned to television journalism and newsmagazine production. Chuck studied mass communications at Southern Arkansas University in Magnolia and motion picture / television production at the University of California at Los Angeles. He has also taught writing for television at York Technical College in Rock Hill, South Carolina and video / film production at Centenary College of Louisiana, Shreveport.