No Comply: Skated and Painted by Ashes

For October’s Featured Art Gallery, Circle is happy to have hosted “No Comply: Skated and Painted by Ashes,” a collection of paintings, original illustrations, tapes and screen prints by the artist, musician, and skateboarder Andrew Harrison. Most of the gallery space is dominated by the reused skateboard decks personally skated by Mr. Harrison throughout his life. The art is vivid, abstract and colorful, emotional in line-work and shape, and each with a history that holds a glimmer in the artist’s eyes. Merchandise of Mr. Harrison’s brands include screen printed shirts and buttons of his own brand, as well as cassettes of his music, being a long time collaborator with a handful of local musicians.

As the cool kids would know, the titular name of Mr. Harrison’s gallery comes from a well known skateboarding trick known as the No Comply. Now in skateboarding terms, a no comply is accomplished by simultaneously stepping your front foot off your skateboard, while your back foot pops the tail off the ground, whilst you scoop the board with your back foot, bringing it up and level it against your back leg, then carrying the airborne board against your back leg forward, hopping up with your front foot that has stepped off previously, bringing the front foot back to the front of the airborne board, and landing as one would an ollie. If my poser, flat footer explanation is not informative enough to capture the elegance of this trick, I recommend interwebbing for videos of the trick for a better visual understanding. In naming his gallery show “No Comply,” Mr. Harrison creates an interesting double analogy between his work and the titular infamous skateboard trick.

First, as most skaters would tell you, the no comply is a versatile base-move that allows for much experimentation and allow for the expression of numerous kinds of moves that build off the traditional no comply. Similarly, Mr. Harrison’s work is more than versatile, it is a one-man creative group with various artistic iterations of his work. From the boards to traditional canvas, from custom shirts to cassette tapes, Mr. Harrison is taking the base of his artistic expression, the pathos of his wild history and expressive art, and finding a motley selection of mediums to impress that artistic vision upon.

Second, the no comply is a deceptively aggravating move, especially for fresh-to-the-pavement skaters who see someone around town or at the skate-park execute a no comply so effortlessly and transition into further tricks as easily as they breath, just to attempt what they saw, and eat enough gravel to fill a pothole. It looks kinetically simple, but if you attempt this trick or any of its derivatives without proper practice, you will find your skateboard will not comply. Similarly, each of Mr. Harrison’s works are refined, clean, expressive but not noisy. It shows the work of an artist who has taken time to convey their creative soul, rooting many of their pieces in a backstory that you may not know, but you can feel all the same.

It seems so simple as you walk through the gallery, but as a frequent audience member of many small galleries throughout the city, I can tell you that those who say, “I can do that,” are looking to bite off much more than they can chew. Mr. Harrison’s pieces titled “Heads”, for example, are each uniquely inked by hand and not a replicate of another. They are birthed by Mr. Harrison’s hand alone, with the line work and shading clearly in his style. It is well practiced, and if anything, such dismissive remarks are almost a compliment for the visual ease and beauty conveyed in their craft, that artists such as Mr. Harrison certainly had no easy time perfecting.

Another splendid piece comes in the form of a smashed guitar that hangs on the far end of the gallery, mangled but stunning, painted to highlight the static kineticism of its past, and something evocative of great passion. I’m told this piece has quite a romantic backstory to it, but alas it is not my story to tell, only my pleasure to interpret and enjoy. Another noteworthy piece is the Triptych Skateboards, that I am still midst interpreting, something between overcoming a personal struggle and the wilderness one finds themselves in being in the ruckus and bacchanalia of the music scene for as long as Mr. Harrison has. Anyone who passes on the opportunity to install this piece in a more traditional triptych setting is truly missing out on one of the more impressive displays of the whole gallery!

Now unfortunately, the gallery is coming to a close on Wednesday October 30th, but fret not, as it would be poor festive behavior to waste that anxiety a day before Halloween. Mr. Harrison will continue to sell his art through his two Instagram accounts, and will continue taking commissions for further “Heads” illustrations, now available in larger and extra-large frames! It has been an absolute pleasure for us here at Circle to host Mr. Harrison’s gallery this October, this being his first ever gallery install, and quite a popular one from what I’ve seen of the empty wall space the artist was struggling to keep full. Be sure to follow Mr. Harrison and reach out for any of his available art pieces and other work by this amazing local talent over on Instagram at @ashes_bud and @nosirrahleumaswerdna.

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