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For these skaters, art imitates art

Kick. Push. Coast. Turn. Heels down. Chest up. Jump. Hands out. Bend knees. Land. Hands down. Kick. Push. Coast.

There’s a lot more to skateboarding than meets the eye. It’s a culture. It’s a style. It’s an art.

The Winchester Skate Team plans to share its knowledge and artistic talents with the community at the “Backside/Frontside: An Exploration of Style and Form” art exhibit, beginning July 26 at the Winchester Cultural Center Gallery, 3130 McLeod Drive.

The exhibit is scheduled to continue through Aug. 2, and an opening reception is scheduled from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. July 26.

The exhibit will feature chicken-wire sculptures of skateboarders doing six different iconic skateboarding tricks, including the wheelie, feeble grind and tuck knee.

Hektor Esparza, founder of the skate team, said human form is pertinent in mastering the art of skateboarding.

“No matter who you are, (the trick) looks a little bit the same,” he said. “The body has to take that shape.”

The sculptures, each representing a member of the team, will be dressed on skateboards.

The stance skateboarders take on the board is also recognized. Skaters who ride with their left foot forward ride “regular,” and those who skate with their right foot forward ride “goofy.” Both stances will be represented in the exhibit.

“It basically shows no matter what style you have in skateboarding, (the trick) still looks cool either way,” said team member Guillermo Rizo, 15.

The team has 12 members, ages 11 to 19, who have an interest in skateboarding and creative activities. Members are selected to be on the team for a year, during which Push Forward, a nonprofit organization created by Esparza that works with Clark County Parks and Recreation, sponsors them. In return each skater must participate in another art form. The skaters also must perform volunteer services for the Winchester Cultural Center and maintain passing academic grades.

“The idea is when they’re not skateboarding or in school, they have something else to do that is not destructive, something that allows their individuality,” Esparza said.

The team meets weekly for presentations regarding higher education, art and nutrition. This year’s first field trip was to the Trifecta Gallery in the Las Vegas Arts District where the team met with owner Marty Walsh, who spoke to the team about running the gallery. The team has also worked with Las Vegas sculptor Miguel Rodriguez for this exhibit.

The Winchester skate program benefits kids because skateboarding has no limits when it comes to who is allowed to participate, said 21-year-old peer mentor and former team member Richard Thomas.

The program got high school dropouts to go back to school and some are in college studying art, Esparza said.

The team’s artistic interests range from painting to music to photography to culinary arts. Esparza thought the exhibit would be the most hands-on way for them to explore their talents and creative fields.

The exhibit coincides with the team’s curriculum of skaters and skate culture. For the exhibit the team was paired off and assigned a trick. Each pair learned the history of the trick and how their peers and professionals perform that trick.

Anybody can enjoy the exhibit and expect to see all sorts of crazy tricks, said team member Najar Smith, 19.

For Esparza, this exhibit is a chance to educate the team and community about the history and art of skateboarding.

“I think it’s for everybody that appreciates the beauty of the human form,” he said. “If you like skateboarding, that’s great. But if you like ballet, you should come; if you like sculpture, you should come.”

For more information on “Backside/Frontside: An Exploration of Style and Form,” call the Winchester Cultural Center at 702-455-7340. For more information on the Winchester Skate Team, visit

Contact Sunrise/Whitney View reporter Yvette Cruz at or 702-383-0256.