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Exhibition Review

 "First Descent: Art and Artifacts from Snowboard Culture"

Page 1 | 2 | 3 | 4|VIEW EXHIBITION!|

There has always been an unholy alliance between art and commerce. But if a new exhibition at Washington state's Bellevue Art Museum is a harbinger of things to come, we can soon expect an unholy troika of art, commerce — and sport.

"First Descent: Art and Artifacts from Snowboard Culture" runs until April 22 at the Bellevue Art Museum. The BAM is appropriately located on the third floor of a mammoth suburban shopping mall, Bellevue Square, so there's plenty of parking. Be sure to bring your wallet, because after viewing this exhibit you may feel the urge to buy a board and a half-ounce of marijuana. Whether you'll have a better understanding of snowboard culture is another matter.

"My curatorial strategy was not to choose works of art that live up to the art world standards that a museum setting usually enforces; rather I decided to let myself be led by what people within the snowboarding industry were looking at, what they thought was sick (or cool), and what they wanted to see in an exhibition about their culture," writes curator Sarah Cook. It sounds interesting enough, and it's certainly an admirable goal. So what does this show tell us about snowboard culture?

From the outset, Cook is aware of the inherent struggle between art and commerce in snowboard culture. She points out that most of the work on display was intended for commercial purposes. The exhibition is extensive, and includes a variety of artworks by a number of artists in Canada and the United States. There are photographs from boarding publications, graphics used on boards, decorative stickers, catalogs from snowboard companies, a film, a collage, paintings, and snowboards themselves.


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