"Through An Architect's Eyes" Summer Workshop

This summer, (June 22nd-July 27th), four students participated in a PONSHOP workshop which was an introduction to architectural design and how it shapes our everyday lives. Sessions were weekly two-hour classes where participants used drawing as a means of further investigating their environment - in this case, Fredericksburg's downtown.
I engaged the students in a design exercise where they studied a public plaza adjacent to the Virginia Historical Museum in downtown Fredericksburg. The students became familiar with the project site by creating maps, perspective sketches, and analytical sections. We used these drawings to generate a discussion of what the current condition of this public space is and how we could improve its function and quality.

Some issues and questions that were raised during our workshop were:

1) The plaza does not seem to be used avidly by pedestrians and local merchants. As a public space, the plaza is "inside out," meaning that all the businesses and buildings which envelop the plaza turn their back on it - resulting in a backyard condition. The students immediately commented on how the perimeter buildings are in a state of disrepair. How can we change this?

2) The historic downtown, albeit rich in historical sites and posessing a viable commercial district, doesn't offer a place in the center of the city for kids to interact and play. How can we create a space for children and their families to hold activities?

3) What makes a good (and safe) public space is not the amount of fences and street lights, but rather the integration of several activities: dining at restaurants, shopping at stores, a place to recreate and meet other people, as well as providing habitation so that residents feel a sense of "ownership" of the public realm.

The images below illustrate the students' solution to improving the plaza by transforming it into an outdoor theatre. One student remarked on how we can bring the spirit of a Drive-In movie theatre back. Architectural features like glass partitions and wood canopies would be a means of creating a richer sense of scale to the plaza while concealing some of the visual "clutter" of the existing buildings. In addition, one of the existing buildings would be reconfigured to open up to the plaza - activating the space as a place to enjoy a meal or read a book. The plaza can be multi-functional: an outdoor theatre and concert pavilion, a restaurant patio, a place to see and be seen.
Congratulations to Ty'Rel, Sabrina, Rebecca, and James - their enthusiasm and hard work resulted in a great summer workshop.

For a current PONSHOP class schedule, click here

"Uniquely Fredericksburg" Art Show 2006

Scarlett and I both placed in this year's "Uniquely Fredericksburg" Juried Art show held at the Central Rappahannock Regional Library (1201 Caroline Street, Fredericksburg,VA).
Scarlett's piece "Sixty Acres A Day" received First Place in the Mixed Media category, while my painting, "Water Is Our History" came in second in the Mixed Media category. When it came time to make these pieces, we both wanted to reflect on the town that we recently moved to as well as give some kind of commentary on where the city has been and where it's going.

Below is Scarlett's piece "Sixty Acres A Day" followed by her artist statement:

Sixty Acres a Day was inspired by all the development that is happening in our area. Therefore, I wanted to create a piece where the traditional contrasted the new. The layout of Sixty Acres a Day is a traditional pinwheel quilt pattern that is constructed out of photographs taken of local construction sites.

To initiate this piece, I spent a week with my son Diego and my mother Marleine driving around our county looking for construction sites to photograph. It wasn’t very difficult and I didn’t have to drive very far before I had a 100 or so photos. The most surprising realization that I made during that week is the amount of destruction that occurs to create this new semi-urban landscape that Fredericksburg is quickly becoming.
The amount of dump trucks and 18 wheelers carrying freshly cut trees and construction equipment is astounding. The progress of leveling our hills for a new fast food restaurant or super store that already exists twice over in a 20 mile radius is overwhelming. It’s the pace really that is hard to grasp. I have to ask, ”Is it worth it?” Replacing our dogwoods and cedars, our wildflowers and cardinals for another pharmacy? According to my research if we continue developing the way we have been we will be destroying an average of sixty acres a day in the Commonwealth."

Below are my entries "Water Is Our History" and "La Caballera"

The painting Water Is Our History is a reflection on the prominence of the Rappahannock River in the area and it's relationship to the history and culture of Fredericksburg. Studied closely, the composition is a theoretical cross-section of our city's history - a town strategically placed by the river for trade, a city ravaged by fire, flood, and war. Today Fredericksburg is at a critical cross-roads in its identitiy. This small "Civil War Town" has great cultural and historical precedents manifest in the environment, yet it is also experiencing the growing pains of being consumed as another suburb of Northern Virginia. Fredericksburg as a city is in danger of being enveloped by its own suburban sprawl - where shopping malls rename themselves the "Town Center" and the locals no longer look to the river for their orientation, but to the interstate.

La Caballera was going to be titled something totally different - but unavoidably awkward. This piece is a culmination of visuals and text that I imagine our son would be dreaming at night. Diego is nine months old now, and I could only think that language and symbol must penetrate his dreams - where everything appears a beautiful and unending landscape.

PONSHOP Commissioned Work

I was recently commissioned to design and paint a set of decks for Scientific Street Fighting. SSF provides athletic gear specialized for martial arts and "Vale Tudo" (anything goes unarmed combat). Based off of SSF's original logos, I created a set of three different stencil patterns and applied them to 8.25"x32" skateboard decks using spray paint. The greatest challenge of this commission was maintaining a cohesive color palette between all four decks while still having enough freedom to explore different color combinations.
Special thanks goes out to Ron of Scientific Street Fighting. His interest in the PONSHOP decks brought about a whole new deck series for his business.

For inquiries into commissioned work, contact: shop@ponshopstudio.com

August Workshops: Intro To Street Art & Skate to Create

August was a busy month for us. The PONSHOP held a combo "Intro To Street Art" and "Skate to Create" workshop. These classes were three 2-hour sessions where students either took a stab at creating poster-size spraypaint murals or designed and appplied a stencil graphic onto a skateboard deck. Good Work Guys!
Ty'Rel used spraypaint and paint pens to create his "Tee-Kay-Oh" piece. According to Ty'Rel, this workshop was just the beginning of his endeavors in large scale compostions.Brandon took a stab at using paper collage, spraypaint, paint pens, and stencils to execute his "ACE" piece. Brandon's biggest challenge was practicing a variety of line thicknesses with the spray can.

The "Skate To Create" students had a very clear idea of what they wanted to do with their skateboard graphics. Their ideas were rooted in Grafitti murals, yet they had to reconstruct their sketches to accomodate three different stencil patterns.
Robert's "Lost" Graphic incorporates a red to green gradient with a silver outline to contrast with the slick black background.Tristan's "Core" graphic is inspired by the Grafitti's "Wild Style", incoporating stylized lettering and symbols like arrows and crowns.

For a current PONSHOP Class Schedule, click here.

PONSHOP T-shirt Saga: Episode II

The PONSHOP T-shirts are on their way up to New York City to make an appearance at The Market NYC, a weekly indoor designer's market featuring anything from clothing to handbags and jewelry. If you're in Manhattan, visit 268 Mulberry Street the weekend of September 9th and check it out. Thanks go out to Logan Jones once again for carving time out of his schedule to head up to the city and spread the PONSHOP flavor.

Meanwhile, the PONSHOP shirts are available at Fresh Air Designs in downtown Winchester, Virginia (10 South Loudon Street). Maureen Limon owns a fine shop that features original artwork, clothing, and "design for the senses". I made acquaintences with Maureen one year ago when we contributed to the Warren County Skatepark/ Exit Six Skateboard Auction. Since then, Maureen's been totally supportive of our efforts to create and market our work. Scarlett and Fresh Air owner Maureen Limon: Chilling on a Saturday Afternoon in downtown Winchester, Virginia.

Shirts are also available at Fred Skates in downtown Fredericksburg as well as the PONSHOP Studio. If interested in purchasing a shirt, contact us at shop@ponshopstudio.com.

July Workshop: Skate To Create

Skateboarding is about having fun and expressing your individual style. So why look like every other kid in the neighborhood? In July, the PONSHOP held a 3-session, 6 hour workshop called "Skate To Create." Students designed their very own skateboard graphic and, using stencils and spray paint, applied it on a blank skateboard deck.
I helped the students finalize their ideas in sketch form and gave a demonstration on the "rules" and process of cutting and spraying a stencil. Congratulations to Katie, Sarina, and Brandon. These students worked rigorously from conception to applying the last coat of paint. The decks turned out great and whether they're hung on a wall or under someone's feet, the workshop was a success.

For upcoming PONSHOP workshops, click Here.

Independence: Skateboarding's Art and Evolution

July 4th, 2006 was Independence Day, and for us that meant three things: Skateboarding, Music, and Art. PONSHOP Studio, Fredericksburg Skateboards, and Magic Bullet Records teamed up to host an afternoon of summer fun for downtown Fredericksburg, Virginia. The PONSHOP curated an exhibit of over sixty skateboard decks dating as far back as 1965 and spanning a timeline to today. Bands Worn In Red and Sparrows Swarm and Sing rocked the gallery space throughout the day while local skaters enjoyed two new ramps and other street obstacles in the parking lot. I set up shop in a makeshift outdoor studio, painting designs on the ramps, as well as the skaters' boards. My wife and fellow artist, Scarlett, held down the frontline - greeting visitors, passing out exhibit statements, and selling the new PONSHOP T-shirts. Needless to say a good time was had by all. Thanks once again to all that contributed and helped that day and thanks to LibertyTown Arts Workshop.

To read the Freelance Star article announcing the "Independence" event, click here.

Worn In Red Rockin' It Out
Sparrows Swarm and Sing from Lowell, MassachusettsThe Usual Suspects...
Raffle Fun"Independence" Exhibit
Ramps were donated to Curtis Memorial Park for endless summer sessions.

PONSHOP Private Lessons

Max Harvey is one of the PONSHOP veterans and has been a student of our studio since March of 2006. Every week Max brings hundreds of new ideas that he wants to explore in mediums such as collage, acrylic, and spray paint. Below is one of Max's recent pieces. If memory serves me correct, the working title for this piece is "Japan Attack." Max finds inspiration from everything in his environment: the video games he plays, the techno music he composes, especially the graffiti art and writing that he sees when touring from city to city. In fact, Max recently returned from a trip to London and I'm sure he's brimming over with new inspirations...well done Max!

Above: "Japan Attack" by Max Harvey, Mixed Media on Canvas, 12"x16"
Below: Detail

For more information about Private Classes, email me at gpons@ponshopstudio.com

"Mixing the Media" Spring Session: Student Work

"Mixing the Media" was a 2-session workshop (4 hours total) in which students created compositions using collage, acrylic paint, pencil, and spraypaint. I also shared some of my art library with the students, introducing them to artists such as Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and Keith Haring. Using both found images and reproductions of their past work, students composed paintings approximately 14"x22" in size. Good Job Kids!

Mixed Media Collage by Sarah Bachman (above: entire painting, below: detail)

Below: Mixed Media Collage by Suzanne Sharp (top: entire painting, bottom: detail)

For a current PONSHOP Class Schedule, click here

Press Release: "Independence: Skateboarding's Art and Evolution"

The PONSHOP is busy planning an event that will introduce some art and recreation to the youth in Fredericksburg. PONSHOP along with Fredericksburg Skateboards and Magic Bullet Records will be hosting their first collaborative event: Independence: Skateboarding’s Art and Evolution on July 4th in downtown Fredericksburg at LibertyTown Arts Workshop from 2pm to 6pm. This family event is an exclusive one-day celebration of skateboard art and culture, featuring three live bands and a gallery exhibit showcasing the history of skateboard design and graphics from 1980 to today.
I will be hosting an outdoor art workshop where participants can paint their own skateboard decks or help adorn a newly built ramp. Other events will include a raffle featuring products from PONSHOP, Fred Skates and Magic Bullet. Keeping within the tradition of the Fourth of July, there will be hot dogs and refreshments available so bring your appetite. We're in the homestretch now planning for the party. The posters have been printed and umm... posted, and skateboard decks are accumulating around me as we speak. Join us for a day of art, music, and skateboarding!

"Remastered" at Studio One Eight: June 17th-July1st

I just finished this submission for the "Remastered: Contemporary Interpretations of Masterworks" show at Studio One Eight in Washington D.C. The image posted here features my piece "She Slew Him With Sling and Stone" (right) as well as the renaissance artist Donatello's David Sculpture. Below is my artist statement about the piece:

The painting “She Slew Him With Sling and Stone” revisits the early renaissance bronze sculpture “David” executed by Donatello around 1430.
According to the Bible, God had chosen the youngest of eight sons to be the new king of Israel. Samuel sought out the boy David and God bestowed upon him his blessings. Threatened by the onslaught of the Philistine army and confident that God will protect him, David volunteered to battle Goliath, a mighty Philistine soldier who taunted and threatened the armies of Israel. David confronted the Goliath on the battlefield wearing no armor and armed with only stones and a sling. David defeated the giant by striking him on the forehead with one stone. He proceeded to behead his opponent using Goliath’s own sword.
Donatello’s freestanding sculpture reiterates this narrative by reinventing the classical nude in the form of a boy – petite, sinuous, and slightly feminine in build. The facial expression exhibited is one of both pride and self-awareness. David’s gaze is not focused on Goliath’s head, but rather back on himself. It is as if after the heroic deed, David realizes the vitality and strength of his own body. This celebration of self-discovery is a prominent theme in renaissance art.
“She Slew Him With Sling and Stone” focuses on two essential aspects of Donatello’s sculpture: the allusion to a sensuous feminine form, and the treatment of a freestanding figure in a painterly landscape.
David’s body is revised and reshaped to depict a young woman as the heroine in this story. I’ve always been intrigued by the beauty of the female figure and portraying a woman as a strong, confident, and skillful character. I’m interested in exploring the conventional ‘David and Goliath’ story in our contemporary world. What women have overcome enormous odds and obstacles in order achieve what they believe in? Who is the Goliath in this case? Is it one man or a society governed by male interests and agenda? When does humility and faith overcome physical strength and might?
Secondly, after viewing Michelangelo’s David sculpture in Florence, I asked the question “What is David’s space?” I am interested in depicting a context for the subject, a ground for the figure. How can a painting further inform the viewer in terms of the place and context of an event? How can the background landscape compliment the figure?

PONSHOP T-shirt Saga

The first generation PONSHOP T-shirts are now available at Fred Skates in Fredericksburg, Virginia. It's been a long road to get to where we are with these tees and we're stoked on the feedback we've received so far. Thanks to Mark at the skateshop for helping us out.
Friends have been asking when the shirts will be at our studio and we're shooting for July 4th to reveal the summer T-shirt setup.

Thanks to Logan Jones for kickstarting this endeavor. He was so excited to see the site and studio up and running that he took the initiative and encouraged us to design, print, and promote the shirts. Logan took our first batch up to The Market NYC on the weekend of May 20th to stir up some interest and adorn the kids of New York.
People have been really receptive to the skateboard deck images and it was a natural question of "when" the images would make their way to a shirt. It's been a real challenge to take a graphic and have it realized on a large quantity of clothing. I'm typically used to treating each image as its own compostion, making variations in color and gradient. Also, there's a much greater sense of permanence when working on t-shirts - or maybe "publicity" is a better word.
We now have an acccount with American Apparel and have selected colors and styles for this summer. If all goes well, I'll draw up some new shirt graphics for the fall!

PONSHOP Summer Skating

We're heading right into the summer months and that means much more time for skating. I just finished painting up a
PONSHOP deck for myself - mixing up the typical color palette and incorporating a new griptape stencil on top. PONSHOP will be continuing with our skateboard lessons throughout the summer months and we're currently planning a 4th of July Party at our studio in Fredericksburg, Virginia - "Independence: Skateboarding's Art and Evolution". Organized in collaboration with Magic Bullet Records and Fredericksburg Skateboards, PONSHOP will host a day of Art, Skateboarding and Music. More info to come soon....