ART STORY | Workshop Stories: The Skateboarder

He couldn’t walk, but with his skateboard, he could fly.

On March Break, the Art Gallery of Mississauga and the Mississauga Library System hosted TELL ME A STORY: An Art-Inspired Creative Writing Workshop for Youth. Participants, aged 10 – 19, were asked to choose from a selection of works from the AGM’s Permanent Art Collection, or the AGM’s current exhibition, Lila Lewis Irving: Con Spirito | Retrospective. The AGM provided captions for some of the works, to inspire imaginative storytelling. Participants were given 30 minutes to come up with their stories.

The inspiration for the workshop came from Chris Van Allsburg’s Chronicles of Harris Burdick, which features short stories  inspired by Van Allsburg’s illustrations and created by writers such as Stephen King and Lois Lowry. Thanks to the support of Thomas Allen Ltd, ten of the participants were also given signed copies of Chronicles of Harris Burdick or the original Mysteries of Harris Burdick.

The AGM would like to thank the Mississauga Library System, particularly librarian James Dekens, for all the support and collaboration on this workshop. James joined the workshop, and wrote an Art Story of his own! We think it’s pretty awesome — check it out!

Tim Jocelyn, Skateboarder
From the Art Gallery of Mississauga’s Permanent Art Collection

James Dekens

He was a skateboarding god. A god amongst skateboarders. A legend, really. The legend went like this:

Clark A. Senakis. Hero of the mountains. Born lame. Grew up to be awesome.

He grew up in a town some would call podunk. Others, a hole in the wall. But Clark A (as his friends were keen on calling him) saw beyond the podunkery and saw through the hole in the wall. the town, as he saw it, was built for boarders. Rails were everywhere. Huge drop-ins were common. Half-pipes were omnipresent. But only for those who knew where to look.

Clark A. boarded around, through, on top of, below, and beyond the town. The old men saw him pass through nigh on twice, maybe three times a day. They can’t be sure. He’s too fast. He’s too jumpy. He’s too… Kids these days.

Clark A. wore a helmet (because he was smart) but chose not to wear a shirt (because he was awesome). This quickly became what the A stood for. Awesome. Clark Awesome, as his friends began to call him, or just awesome, as the kids were always calling him, knew there was a higher calling for a helmet-wearing shirt-shedding boarder like himself. One day, he decided to find it.

He left the town behind, and with it, his family, his friends, and his name. He had something to prove. He did it the first day, in the most awesome way.

He took the highway. He boarded it. He dodged traffic. He changed lanes. He passed big rigs. He yielded for ambulances, pedestrians, and old women. And he yielded only for them. Everybody else yielded for him.

Clark Awesome, beyond the mountains, beyond the town, took up a new nickname. Just Awe. He was better than awesome. He was named for the feeling he inspired in each and every boarded.

And that’s where the legend ends. Awe is still around, so they say. Always boarding, always Awesome. You won’t find him to TV or pitching a shoe. You’ll find him in the heart of every boarder, on the lips of every skater.

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