Smithsonian To Collect Skateboard Decks and Iconic Skate Film

Professional Skateboarders and Filmmakers Jason Lee and Chris “Dune” Pastras Donate Personal Objects to the National Collections During Ceremony at Innoskate Festival
July 7, 2022
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Chris Haslam performs a skateboard trick on a ramp in front of NMAH

Chris Haslam gives a skateboarding demonstration at Innoskate 2013 in front of the National Museum of American History. Image courtesy Innoskate.

The Smithsonian’s Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation, USA Skateboarding and Levitt at the Falls are collaborating this summer to create a one-of-a-kind Innoskate festival for the Oglala Lakota Nation in Pine Ridge, South Dakota, July 5, and Sioux Falls, South Dakota, July 7–9. Innoskate brings skateboarding and local communities together in a dynamic exploration of invention, creativity, fun and freedom of expression. 

Innoskate Sioux Falls festivalgoers will be witness to the donation of two skateboard decks, an issue of TransWorld SKATEboarding and a DVD and promotional poster of A Visual Sound to the Smithsonian July 9. These acquisitions will become part of the sports history collections in the Division of Culture and Community Life at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.

Jason Lee is a film photographer, actor and director. Having established a successful career as a professional skateboarder, and one of the most prominent early pioneers of street skating during the sport’s pivotal late 1980s and early ’90s period, Lee would go on to pursue acting in 1994, which led to work in film, television, and voiceover. Despite retiring from skateboarding in 1995, Lee continues co-managing Stereo Skateboards with co-founder and former professional skateboarder Chris “Dune” Pastras. This year the two longtime friends celebrate the company’s 30-year anniversary.

Pastras is a skateboarding legend and an established artist and television host. With his roots beginning with the legendary SHUT Skates out of the New Jersey/New York area, Pastras started traveling and competing in the mid-80s. After moving to the West Coast from New Jersey in 1990, Pastras turned pro with World Industries, and landed a part in the classic “Rubbish Heap” video. He then went on to start Stereo Skateboards in San Francisco with Lee in 1992.

Lee will donate his 1989 SMA Rocco Division skateboard deck. The board is an early street model, released at a time when pool and ramp skating were still dominant. SMA Rocco Division was a short-lived brand that very quickly transformed itself into World Industries, the manufacturer that dominated the new street-oriented skateboard industry of the 1990s. This conversion to street skating is what opened the door for millions of youths to access skateboarding, as the rare and specialized terrain like skateparks and ramps were replaced by ubiquitous objects like sidewalks, stairs, rails and curbs. Lee will also donate an April 1989 issue of TransWorld SKATEboarding, the leading international skateboarding magazine at the time, and features a photo of Lee skating the board on page 88. 

Pastras was among the most notorious of the new school of street skaters coming out of the local scene of New York-region skaters in the late 1980s, so he was a natural choice for the team being assembled by the upstart New York skateboard company, SHUT Skates. With its focus on modern street skating, SHUT quickly became the unofficial skate brand of New York City. Pastras will donate his SHUT skateboard deck. Ridden by him in 1987, the deck shows the heavy wear of a New York City street skater in an era when that style of skating was just emerging—raw urban street skating. Skateboards were being tested in ways they had never been, and skaters like Pastras proved they were adaptable to virtually any terrain. 

Stereo Skateboards will donate a DVD version of its film, A Visual Sound. Released in 1994, A Visual Sound is one of the first introductions of experimental art, film and music in skateboard videos. The video is written, produced and directed by Stereo Skateboard founders Lee and Pastras. Throughout the video, abstract and eclectic still frames are intermingled with color and black and white footage of skating. The soundtrack is a pure jazz lineup from Ululation and Tommy Guerrero at a time when skateboarding videos typically featured punk rock or hip-hop soundtracks, exclusively. Going against the grain with the use of 8 mm film, black and white still photography and avant-garde music, A Visual Sound is now revered as a classic within the skateboard community. A promotional poster of the film, an original display item provided to skateboard shops that sold the film, is also included in the donation.

The donation ceremony will take place during the final evening of Innoskate Sioux Falls July 9, following a screening of A Visual Sound accompanied by a live performance by the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra. There are currently no plans to display these acquisitions at the National Museum of American History at this time. Visit Innoskate Sioux Falls for more information.

About the Lemelson Center

The Lemelson Center, located at the National Museum of American History, engages, educates and empowers the public to participate in technological, economic and social change. The center undertakes historical research, develops educational initiatives, creates exhibitions and hosts public programming to advance new perspectives on invention and innovation and to foster interactions between the public and inventors. The Lemelson Hall of Invention and Innovation, featuring the Draper Spark!Lab, “Places of Invention” and “Inventive Minds,” is a signature part of the National Museum of American History’s 45,000-square-foot space centered on the theme of innovation. For more information, visit the center’s website. Follow the center on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

About the National Museum of American History

Through incomparable collections, rigorous research and dynamic public outreach, the National Museum of American History seeks to empower people to create a more just and compassionate future by examining, preserving and sharing the complexity of our past. The museum, located on Constitution Avenue N.W., between 12th and 14th streets, is open daily except Dec. 25, between 10 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Admission is free. The doors of the museum are always open online and the virtual museum continues to expand its offerings, including online exhibitions, PK–12 educational materials and programs. The public can follow the museum on social media on TwitterInstagram and Facebook. For more information, visit the museum’s website

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