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Grip-tape art

Posted by Joshua Glenn  January 30, 2008 09:32 AM

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Two ex-Massachusetts men have created one of the coolest works of art I've seen in years. The falling man and cityscape pictured below were cut out of grip tape -- the sticky-backed sandpaper that skaters apply to the top side of a skateboard "deck," so their shoes won't slip.

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The artwork was designed by San Francisco-based cartoonist and illustrator Joe Alterio, originally of Arlington, for the Deck/Shoes art show at the Space Gallery in San Francisco.

If Alterio's name sounds familiar, it's because I raved about his Robots & Monsters project last spring. Alterio was trying to raise $1,000 for the San Francisco AIDS Foundation by drawing customized robots and monsters for $25 apiece; his idea was such a hit that he raised $10,000 in less than 48 hours, and had to shut the website down.

You can see more of Alterio's skateboard illustrations here.

In order to produce the skateboard art, Alterio collaborated with Jesse Milden, a skateboarder and former web designer at Tripod (in Williamstown) and Lycos (in Waltham). Now living in Seattle, Milden is the proprietor of Subhead Premium Grip, an intensely hip customized "anti-slip sticker" business. For example:

skullboard_gal.jpg

While I'm thrilled to see Alterio and Milden thriving on the West Coast, I'm driven to ask, for the thousandth time: Why did they have to leave, in order to succeed, Boston?

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About brainiac Brainiac is the daily blog of the Globe's Sunday Ideas section, covering news and delights from the worlds of art, science, literature, history, design, and more. You can follow us on Twitter @GlobeIdeas.
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Brainiac blogger Kevin Hartnett is a writer in Columbia, South Carolina. He can be reached here.

Leon Neyfakh is the staff writer for Ideas. Amanda Katz is the deputy Ideas editor. Stephen Heuser is the Ideas editor.

Guest blogger Simon Waxman is Managing Editor of Boston Review and has written for WBUR, Alternet, McSweeney's, Jacobin, and others.

Guest blogger Elizabeth Manus is a writer living in New York City. She has been a book review editor at the Boston Phoenix, and a columnist for The New York Observer and Metro.

Guest blogger Sarah Laskow is a freelance writer and editor in New York City. She edits Smithsonian's SmartNews blog and has contributed to Salon, Good, The American Prospect, Bloomberg News, and other publications.

Guest blogger Joshua Glenn is a Boston-based writer, publisher, and freelance semiotician. He was the original Brainiac blogger, and is currently editor of the blog HiLobrow, publisher of a series of Radium Age science fiction novels, and co-author/co-editor of several books, including the story collection "Significant Objects" and the kids' field guide to life "Unbored."

Guest blogger Ruth Graham is a freelance journalist in New Hampshire, and a frequent Ideas contributor. She is a former features editor for the New York Sun, and has written for publications including Slate and the Wall Street Journal.

Joshua Rothman is a graduate student and Teaching Fellow in the Harvard English department, and an Instructor in Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. He teaches novels and political writing.

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