Feature—Skewville

Juxtapoz // Sunday, 23 Jan 2011
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Our Helen Soteriou sits down with Queens, New York-based Skewville, the roaming artists known for throwing wooden sneakers over wires across the globe. From NYC to London, and Berlin to the Mayan Temples of Mexico, Skewville have taken these sneakers you see here and made them postcard moments.

HS: Can you tell us what you are known as in the art scene...

 

Skewville: If you Know you Know... and if you dont know keep reading...

 

I believe Skewville was an actual place, did you grow up there?

 

No. it was the name of the building tha that me and my twin brother moved into when we first moved out to a more ghetto part of Queens.

 

Was it a tough neighborhood to grow up in?

 

We grew up In Queens, NYC. It wasn’t a tough hood. But we still got beat up by my older brother friends and had to learn to fend for ourselves...



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Were you involved with gangs or anything like that.

 

Like every city kid in 1984... we had a graffiti crew that break-danced and rocked a phat boom box, that was as gangster as we ever got.... By the early 90s, the artistic side of the  graffitti scene died out in Queens and the only kids tagging and bombing were the hardcore drug dealing vandals that were out for blood…  So you kept your friends close and enemies closer....

 

At what age did you throw your first pair of trainers up in the air?

 

My Mom always tells these stories that when we were kids we used to take off our sneakers and thrown them out the car window when she was driving… We were only 2 years old...

 

But even after that, we remember the older kids throwing up old sneakers at the end of the block... I guess we shortly followed…

 

Did you notice that this was a popular thing to do, were there a lot of people doing it in your neighborhood?

 

It was one of those things that once you see some else do it...you gotta do it...



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Did you have any understanding what it meant back then to have your trainers hanging in the air. I know it means different things around the world.

 

To us it was about representing your hood. Tossing up you old kicks to show people where you been at... the other Urban Legends sound like bullshit... but my dad did say back in the day he did buy drugs on a corner that did have hanging sneakers… so who knows...

 

 

When did you decide to start producing your own wooden sneakers and where was the first place you threw them?

 

So in 1999, we started silk-screening wooden sneakers... the first 12 pairs were tossed around where the original Skewville building stood.

 

 

How often were you and your brother going out and throwing your shoes up in the air. What was the most you did in one night?

 

In 2002 we tossed over 400 pairs in 3 nights in front of every gallery that was on the Queens art loop that year....



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Is this a thing that can be only really done of a night or did you also throw them up in the daytime?

 

Day or night... Back in early days we did it in broad day light in front of people.... best part was when then clapped or cheered afterwards...

 

It must take quite a skill to throw them up and get them to stay up. Is it a case of you can do it in one throw now or is it sometimes hard work?

 

After 5,000 pairs you kind of get the hang of it… But there are always factors.... like wind and/or drunkeness.

 

What is the most famous place you have thrown your sneakers? I know you have placed them all around the world now.

 

They have been spotted in front of many landmark buildings, but the most famous/sacred place was next to a Mayan Pyramid in Mexico...We had to run so I never got a photo....



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Ireland

How many would you say you put up when you go traveling, to say London, or somewhere else overseas?

 

As much as the airlines allow us to carry...


Have you had any narrow escapes or brushes with the law while out doing this?

 

Never.  Police even saw us do it once. They didn't clap, but didn’t care much either...

 

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You do not just work with wooden sneakers, you also do stencils and other forms of art. Can you tell us about some of that?

 

We've tried it all from sculpture to stamps to painting to silk-screening. For us its always been about changing things up.

 

Do you ever get fans climbing up high places to get a pair of your dogs? Or can you buy them in shops out there.

 

They were available back in the day, but no one gave a shit. So we never tried to sell then since. But a lot of people ask to buy them now but we feel like that’s the main problem with street art. Now people love to buy stuff… so yeah if you want a pair of Skewville Dogs you gotta climb or wait for them to fall.... good luck.



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http://www.skewville.org

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