Pat Ngoho
Pat Ngoho – professional skateboarder, artist and curator based in Venice Beach. He co-founded the
'Love and Guts' art exhibition with partners Steve Olson and Lance Mountain; an art show highlighting
skateboarding's influence and ongoing creative expression within popular culture. I met up with Pat in
Bondi Beach (Sydney), where he spoke candidly about California in the 70's, travelling to remote countries,
sustaining his art practice on tour, and how the infamous 'Dogtown Crew' influenced his life.

I thank Pat for his honest recollections of past and present times. You can see Pat's notorious style here
or follow the 'Love and Guts' art exhibition over here.


INTERVIEW: PAT NGOHO
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Growing up in the Santa Monica area, does the biographical film 'Lords of Dogtown' resonate with your childhood?

I haven't seen the film but I did see the documentary, and yes it takes me right back to my childhood. As a kid, that was my whole life and it was something that I was attracted to from a very young age. Now in retrospect I understand what a strong cultural movement went down. There were so many things that aligned and ripened at one point – modern surfing, Surf Rats, Mexican and other street gangs, artists, poets and skateboarders. Skaters were a fledgling young group that had a primed blank canvas and with style and cool wrote a new chapter in American history – you could feel it and taste it.

Please describe how the "vert" skateboarding movement evolved in the 1970's and how the development of the polyurethane skateboard wheel impacted you and your peers.

Skateboarding has been on a steep climb, and some of the steepest angles were in the 70s and 80s; there was a lot of change in both equipment and in society. In the seventies almost every skater was a surfer, and as skating began to create it's own identity it shed it's surfer image. Skaters now had their own terrain in the form of pools and skateparks. As the skate industry began to evolve, the need to sell things in the market place developed. This was done with the endorsements of the best skaters, which ushered in the contests, which lead to the beginning of the next incarnation of the skateboard.

The technological aspects of skateboarding were amazing in this time period, as a small kid my first board had clay rock hard wheels and almost overnight someone developed the urethane wheel; from the perspective of kids who were pushing boundries, it was like going from the horse and buggy to the automobile. The technology of the wheels were revolutionary, the whole experience was new and far better; it seemed that about every three months something new within skating would come along and blow the doors off. 

Do you have a studio in Los Angeles? Tell us a little bit about your working environment?

Yes, my studio is in Venice. I find that being in the right environment does effect the creative process; I try to minimise clutter and even keep the walls clean and bare. I also find that working in a space that has a story and or remnants of a weathered and worn past keeps the mind busy, flowing and almost buddhist in nature where there is no beginning or ending, you are just a link in the chain that goes round.  

When travelling on tour, you spoke about using non-traditional media such as napkins or envelopes to develop and maintain your art practice. Take us through the process of collecting and utilising the ephemeral objects in your work?

I'm not so sure if it's the ephemeral quality of the described items as much as the fact that they are mini canvases with wild and different aspect ratios. Everyone has a different texture, some with exotic post marks and stamps, others with faint textures and unusual colours – as soon as the ink begins to flow it becomes interesting to me.

Where would your perfect home/workspace be and what would it look like.

Well I don't want to give too much away, but lets say it would be overlooking water, dominated by large multiple studios and a 50 foot+ pool to freedive and scuba!

In regards to your art practice, are there any materials you are experimenting with at the moment? Do materials used to construct surf and skateboards find their way into your art?

I try to be open to anything really when working. The language of art has to do with looking at things differently and expressing an idea or constructing something new and sometimes this crosses over into other areas of your life. As a surfer one cant help but get intoxicated by visual elements surrounding it such as the water, the colors in the resin, the light on the different reflective surfaces, etc..

Who are your skateboarding sponsors and do they support your creative endeavours?

I'm on different teams such as Adidas, Indy and a few more. They all help out here and there. Without a doubt the Oakley team gets it, sees the tie-in and understands the culture.

What projects have you been working on lately?

Lately I have been working with painted words and representational abstractions. Painted words can be very powerful and the language is different than the language of color and form. We live in chasm bombarded by words, when an idea is displayed in this form it commands attention but I am not sure if this is what I want from a painting. With the representational abstractions I've been building layers through the use of transparencies, I find it interesting because it invites more chance occurrences. 

Los Angels is rich in cultural history and artistic merit, how has California influenced your art?

California really is more different than anywhere else I have been. I think because it is a young state in a young country it did a lot to break ties with its European founders – the west provided a clean slate for modern minds to experiment. Architectural innovators such as Ray and Charles Eames, Richard Neutra and Rudolph Schindler took advantage of new materials and used the beautiful western light to push the architectural envelope and give California a very unique personality. For me or any artist there is strong inspiration here in California; weather its the iconic factory of Hollywood or the picture postcard collision of desert and ocean, California and Californians have a strong independence that has routed a path in its own direction – that in itself is influential. 

What is the soul of skateboarding to you?

The soul of skateboarding and the reason why I have skated for so long is for the expression and the thrill. Everyday you can try something new,
skate somewhere fresh, and when you're skating fast flying around in a pool or a park it really is fun – nothing like it.

Tell us about the touring art-show that you co-founded in 2005.

Love and Guts, was founded on the idea that skateboarding is an artistic endeavor and that skating is an art form such as jazz is an art form; the show is an artistic outlet for artist-skaters to feature their creative talents. As you mentioned it started in 2005 with Olson, myself and Lance. The show varies with different artists. Over the years Oakley has been an outstanding supporter of Love and Guts and has worked with us to grow the show in a way we felt was right. The show has become a platform for more than just art, for example last year we featured Thrasher Magazine's 30 Year Anniversary. We've had shows in Australasia, New York, California, Washington DC, San Francisco and San Jose. We randomly go with exhibition themes – our current theme for Love and Guts is 'empty swimming pools'. I am not sure where this will go, it is kind of like skating, it keeps reinventing itself. 

– Cheers for your time Pat. See you back in Australia next year.

More on Pat Ngoho and the Love and Guts exhibition here.

Photography & Interview: David Hewitson