Local artist Neil Downs uses his talents to design decks for skateboards. Downs' work, which is hanging on the wall behind him, will be featured in this month's  skate deck art show at Urbane.

Photo by John F. Russell

Local artist Neil Downs uses his talents to design decks for skateboards. Downs' work, which is hanging on the wall behind him, will be featured in this month's skate deck art show at Urbane.

Skate deck art on display at downtown Steamboat Springs store

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The work of local artists is on display in Urbane’s Skate Deck Art Show through April.

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The work of Tony Bauman is on display in Urbane's Skate Deck Art Show.

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The work of Brian Leach is on display in Urbane's Skate Deck Art Show.

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Skateboards, painted by local artist Neil Downs hang on the wall of Urbane. The boards will be on display in the store’s Skate Deck Art Show.

— Neil Downs started off skateboarding. Then he became a tattoo artist. His latest artistic venture, displayed on the walls of Urbane in downtown Steamboat Springs for the third year, is a combination of both passions.

“I hardly ever paint, but this time of year … it gets me out of my rut of drawing and doing tattoos,” he said. “It makes me happy.”

Downs uses a combination of acrylic paint and tattoo ink for his intricate skate deck art.

For this year’s annual Skate Deck Art Show, he spent almost 100 hours on a three-deck series depicting a pink flower and vines.

Urbane kicked off the show with a First Friday Artwalk reception Friday night.

The Skate Deck Art Show features about 25 entries this year, coming from a variety of local artists. Some artist names are recognizable from the local art gallery scene, showcasing another format of expression for established painters.

Other entries came from tattoo artists such as Downs, who owns Steamboat Tattoo, or locals who just wanted the chance to paint.

Downs said he was impressed with the caliber and variety of art that the show brought out of the woodwork.

“Painting on a skateboard is really hard; it’s off balance,” he said. “It’s kind of foreign, and it’s really unforgiving. So when you see really nice artwork on a skateboard, it’s by no means easy to do.”

Store owner Melissa LeBlanc said she started handing out boards a month and a half ago for a small fee. After the show, the artists can take them home.

“It’s interesting to compare art when it’s all on the same format,” she said. “It’s so cool to see all the different types of art you get back.”

Store manager Kelly Proudley said she’s a skateboarder and loves that there’s now a skatepark in Steamboat where she can spend her days with the rest of the skating community.

She said skateboard art on the walls of the store reflects a tight-knit and ever-growing faction of the Steamboat culture.

“It’s a great way to express yourself creatively, and for everyone in town to make a statement on something we love, skateboards,” she said.

In addition to the art show, Urbane also is looking for entries in a graphic design contest for its new house skate deck. It’s the first year the store is using a contest format to choose the design, and entries will be accepted until April 15.

The shop will make about 200 versions of the board to be sold.

“We just thought it’d be really cool for the artist to see their work around town, being skateboarded on,” LeBlanc said.

To reach Nicole Inglis, call 970-871-4204 or email ninglis@SteamboatToday.com

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