Smithsonian to Collect Skateboard Decks and Iconic Skateboard Movie

The Smithsonian’s Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation, USA Skateboarding, and Levitt at the Falls are collaborating this summer to create a one-of-a-kind Innoskate Festival for the Oglala Lakota Nation in Pine Ridge, South Dakota on July 5, and Sioux Falls, South Dakota, July 7-9. Innoskate brings skateboarding and local communities together in a dynamic exploration of invention, creativity, fun and freedom of expression.

Chris Haslam gives a skateboard demo at Innoskate 2013 in front of the National Museum of American History. Image courtesy of Innoskate. Credit: Smithsonian’s Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation

Innoskate Sioux Falls festival-goers will witness the donation of two skateboard decks, a number TransWorld SKATEboarding, and a DVD and promotional poster of A Visual Sound at the Smithsonian on July 9. These acquisitions will become part of the sports history collections of the Culture and Community Life Division of the Smithsonian National Museum of American History.

Jason Lee is a film photographer, actor and director. After establishing a successful career as a professional skateboarder and one of street skating’s most prominent pioneers during the pivotal period of the late 1980s and early 1990s, Lee continued his career as a actor in 1994, which led him to work in film, television and voiceover. Despite retiring from skateboarding in 1995, Lee continues to co-manage Stereo Skateboards with co-founder and former professional skateboarder Chris “Dune” Pastras. This year, the two longtime friends are celebrating the company’s 30th anniversary.

Pastras is a skateboarding legend and an established entertainer and television host. With his roots beginning with the legendary New Jersey/New York area SHUT Skates, Pastras began traveling and competing in the mid-80s. After moving to the West Coast of New Jersey in 1990, Pastras turned pro with World Industries and landed a role in the classic “Rubbish Heap” video. He then started Stereo Skateboards in San Francisco with Lee in 1992.

Lee will be donating his 1989 SMA Rocco Division skateboard deck. The deck is an early street model, released at a time when pool and ramp skating were still dominant. SMA Rocco Division was a short-lived brand that soon morphed into World Industries, the manufacturer that dominated the new street-oriented skateboarding industry of the 1990s. This conversion to street skating is what opened the door to millions young people to access skateboarding, as rare and specialized terrain like skate parks and ramps have been replaced by ubiquitous objects like sidewalks, stairs, rails and curbs. Lee will also donate an April 1989 issue of TransWorld SKATEboarding, the leading international skateboarding magazine at the time, which features a photo of Lee skating on the board on page 88.

Pastras was among the most notorious of the new school of street skaters to emerge from the local New York area skater scene in the late 1980s, so he was a natural fit for the team assembled by the new street skater company. New York skateboard, SHUT. Skates. With a focus on modern street skating, SHUT quickly became New York’s unofficial skate brand. Pastras will donate his SHUT skateboard deck. Assembled by him in 1987, the deck shows the intense wear and tear of a New York street skater at a time when this style of skating was just emerging – raw urban street skating. Skateboards were tested in ways they had never been, and skaters like Pastras proved to be adaptable to virtually any terrain.

Stereo Skateboards will donate a DVD version of their film, visual sound. Released in 1994, A Visual Sound was one of the first introductions of experimental art, film and music to skateboarding videos. The video is written, produced and directed by the founders of Stereo Skateboard, Lee and Pastras. Throughout the video, always abstract and eclectic, images are interspersed with color and black and white footage of skating. The soundtrack is a pure jazz composition by Ululation and Tommy Guerrero at a time when skateboarding videos typically featured exclusively punk rock or hip-hop soundtracks. Going against the grain with the use of 8mm film, black and white photography and avant-garde music, visual sound is now revered as a classic within the skateboarding community. A promotional poster for the film, an original display item provided to skateboard shops that sold the film, is also included in the donation.

The donation ceremony will take place on the final night of Innoskate Sioux Falls on July 9, following a screening of A Visual Sound accompanied by a live performance by the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra. There are currently no plans to display these acquisitions at the National Museum of American History this time. Visit Innoskate Sioux Falls for more information.

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