At the Kennedy Center, temporary skate park displays skate culture

The Kennedy Center is bringing skateboarding, music and media together during the Finding a Line festival, a 10-day outdoor skate park featuring live music and open skate sessions. The festival started on Friday, Sept. 4 and will continue until Sept. 13.

Arthur Lisi, a farrier from Alexandria, Va., attempts a kickflip indy. Desiree Halpern | Photo Editor

The center is hosting musical guests daily, who perform alongside the skating bowl and ramps to promote a sense of improvisation, Garth Ross, the vice president for community engagement at the Kennedy Center, said.

Jason Moran, the Kennedy Center’s artistic director for jazz and skateboarder Ben Ashworth collaborated with George Mason University students, local skateboarders and D.C. skate shops to build the skate park located in the Front Plaza of the Kennedy Center.

Loud Boyz, a local punk band, opened the festival Friday night. The band performed a set at the rim of the skate bowl while skaters took turns showing off their moves in front of a live audience.

Kenny Brown, lead singer of D.C. punk band Loud Boyz, performs during the opening act on the first day of the “Finding a Line” festival. Desiree Halpern | Photo Editor

Ross said that by combining different disciplines of art and culture together, the heart of the festival “is about the Kennedy Center participating in that culture.”

Ross said he hopes D.C. skaters will help to spread the word about the festival throughout their local networks. He added that because so much of the event is based on collaboration and improvisation, one of the curators’ main goals was to make the festival about the community.

“In terms of the process of building, that by the time the festival came, there would be no question of, ‘Would the skate community come?’ because they’ve been part of it all along,” he said.

Guests can also visit three art exhibits inside the Kennedy Center’s Hall of Nations, which include several dozen painted skateboard decks, skateboarding photography, and a display by skateboarding company Element’s Johnny Schillereff.

Skateboarders take turns doing tricks in the skate bowl located at the Front Plaza of the Kennedy Center. Desiree Halpern | Photo Editor
The skate park bowl and ramps were built in several locations including George Mason University and a studio in Southwest D.C. Skateboarder and artist Ben Ashworth helped guide the construction. Desiree Halpern | Photo Editor
Local skateboarders participated in the opening day of the Kennedy Center’s “Finding a Line” festival on Friday. Desiree Halpern | Photo Editor
Open sessions at the skate park allow skateboarders to visit throughout the day and evening while enjoying live music and colorful light displays. Desiree Halpern | Photo Editor
Participants cheer on their fellow skateboarders, creating a supportive dynamic at the festival rather than a competitive one. Desiree Halpern | Photo Editor

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