Escapist hosts BBQ and Art Exhibition

Landing tricks Pro skateboarder Jon Allie performs a nose blunt at Penn Valley skate park during the Escapist BBQ and skate jam event on Friday.

Linnzi Fusco

Filmers, photographers, and the local skate community gathered at Penn Valley skate park in Kansas City Friday Nov. 5 for the Escapist skate shop BBQ and skateboarding jam for Slave skateboards.

Local skateboarders had an opportunity to join the pros from the Slave skateboarding team from 3 p.m. until nearly dark. Afterward, many reconvened down the street at Escapist skate shop for the First Friday gallery exhibition.

Located at 405 S.W. Blvd, the shop is in the heart of the Crossroads art community.

“The great thing about this shop is the fact that it’s so central and there’s a strong skate community here”, said Dan Askew, co-owner of Escapist.

Escapist started when co-owners, Askew and Nick Owen opened the first shop in May of 2000. As skateboarders themselves, and not counting on going pro, they decided to pursue their passion in another way.

“This keeps us young and its one more way to live it,” said Owen.

The second shop opened in Lee Summit, Mo., and the third shop in April of this year. Among other skate shops in the community, Escapist has been around the longest.

“We are not a small shop around here, there are three Escapist shops, and we aim to be among the best in the country,” said Owen.

The shop aims to create a welcoming environment and to have a positive impact on the skate community.

“We are not trying to put up walls, we want everyone to feel welcome, ” said Owen.

Unlike the other two Escapist shops, the newest features its own gallery. The gallery space is utilized for more than artwork alone. It hosts events such as video premieres and other skate boarding related events. The shop has hosted three video premiers showing some of the latest skateboarding videos and a shoe release party for pro skateboarder Sean Malto. Events are promoted via the Escapist website, MySpace, Facebook, Twitter and word of mouth.

The Slave skate team is currently traveling across the country filming for an upcoming video.

“The whole slave team is here tonight, there are a lot of pro and amateur skateboarders here right now,” said Askew.

The skate shop gallery offers a different experience compared to other local art galleries.

“The art we feature speaks to the skate community on some level” said Owen.

Artists featured are generally skateboarders or have some connection with skateboarding. The gallery previously featured the work of artist and pro skateboarder Lance Mountain.

The gallery is currently featuring the work of Ben Horton, owner and artist for Slave skateboards. Horton has been working closely with skateboarding for years. He has skated for about 17 years and has designed for Black box distribution, which consists of Zero, Mystery, Fallen, and Slave skateboards. Horton designed a skateboard specifically for the event at Escapist. The design features a map of downtown Kansas City and its historical connection with the mafia.

The show includes ink drawings and mixed media acrylic paintings from his personal collection. Horton has exhibited artwork since 2003 in galleries in California, Hawaii and Oregon. The Escapist opening is his first exhibition featured in the Midwest.