What happens when action sports meet art? If you're Ben Weigher, it has something to do with painted snowboards. Weigher is the co-creator, with Tim Andreasen, of Art on Board, an organization focused on creativity, entrepreneurship and youth engagement.
Both Weigher and Andreasen are graduates of the University of Vermont. Weigher joined VPR to talk about the story behind the colorful snowboards, some of which will be up for auction Saturday at ArtsRiot in Burlington.
On the origin of the organization
“Art on Board started as a senior year capstone project in our entrepreneurial leadership class. It was a semester-long project that actually only had two direct guidelines. Number one was to do something that would make a positive impact within your community and number two was that something that you choose to do should be able to be carried on once you graduate. I remember Tim looking over and whispering to me, ‘Let’s do an art show.’ It sort of snowballed from that point into an organization that has since done three galleries on the national scale and getting ready to come back to Burlington for the first time since graduation.”
On what happens at Art on Board events
“The main attraction at our Art on Board events is a silent auction for snowboards that are donated to us by Burton ... We then find artists that we’re fans of, or we’re friends with, that are members of our community to create these boards. We’ve seen everything from house paint to broken glass to bronze patina and everything in between. Such awesome creative ideas ... We auction them off and the money goes back in to support active engagement for young kids in their communities and action sports and the arts. These events also always feature some sport of live music, some sort of culinary involvement from community members. Just fun for the whole family is what we try to promote."
On incorporating graffiti
“We’ve actually worked with quite a few graffiti artists, at least one at each event so far. I guess that maybe stems from personal interest, maybe it stems from us just having grown up as fans of that community … but that has been a common theme to our events so far.”
On the relationship between action sports and arts communities
“We’ve come to the conclusion that there are two simple bonds that bring them together. Number one is creativity. Most people immediately understand that from the artist side of things. But when you look at creativity from the action sports it can be something as simple as trying to find a new skate spot or trying a new trick on the hills on your snowboard.
"Number two is a sort of do-it-yourself, figure-out-how-to-make-it-work entrepreneurial spirit that is so intrinsic to both action sports and the arts. When you’re first starting out, you usually have nothing more than a skateboard or a paintbrush and tablet – any type of creative instrument – and you don’t really know how to use it. But as you go through the process of figuring it out, or doing it yourself, or learning it yourself … The whole entrepreneurial process really fascinated us and was something that we wanted to help push and encourage within our own communities."
On returning to Burlington
"We’ve done this national tour with very little funding, and we’re really hoping to use our homecoming in Burlington as sort of a message that, ‘Here we are, we’re back where we started and we’re here to stay.’ We’re going to make it a big point to really push our future plans … Hopefully that will lead to some financial backing."
On what's next
"We are working on two big things right now. One is a traveling mural project with an artist from NYC by the name of Mitchell Schorr. He does a series called “The Race” and he was actually involved in our gallery in Brooklyn last July. After he saw that we as Art on Board were traveling to these different cities … he approached us and said, ‘Hey, I do this mural series. Wouldn’t it be cool if we could take that to wherever Art on Board goes as a sort of thank you to the community for coming out and supporting us, give back through community beautification.’ So that’s one thing we’re working on and that is actually that is going to be happening in Vermont this summer after our gallery ... That’s going to be the first stop on the Race tour.
Number two that goes hand-in-hand with that is youth engagement. We’re going to be doing our second youth engagement series in Burlington this summer as well."
Art on Board will be at ArtsRiot in Burlington on Saturday, May 23 at 8 p.m. Learn more here.