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 Ed Templeton Exhibition Premiere at Long Beach Museum of Art

Ed Templeton (above) showcases the complexities of life at the LBMA through May 5.

February 8, 2023

By Stepheny Gehrig

Famed skater and artist Ed Templeton opened his first solo exhibition, “Wires Crossed: The Culture of Skateboarding 1995-2012,” at the Long Beach Museum of Art on Feb. 2. The exhibition will run through May 5 and is among the first exhibitions that feature modern and contemporary art at the museum. 

Executive director of the museum, Ron Nelson, explained that the process of deciding which art to feature at the museum requires patience, dedication, and an understanding of what the people, members, and city would like to see. “Wires Crossed” became a clear choice because of the historical and cultural impact that skateboarding has had in Long Beach and Southern California.

“Paul [Loya] and I, four times a year, sit down with piles of stuff, and he presented it to me. I said, ‘Ok, let me let it grow on me a bit. I’m older than you are,'” Nelson said. “Then, I started reading more about it and the depth of this — that hits so many people.”

Hailing from Garden Grove, Templeton provides a deep and intimate loom at punk, skateboarding, and youth culture spanning almost two decades. Documenting his life and the lives of other skaters, Templeton curates a unique environment unlike any other art experience. 

“I started shooting in 1994, and some of these images go back that far and just been shuffling and reshuffling over the years,” Templeton said. “I had something like 5,000 photographs to choose from, and I had to widdle that into 300 somehow. It was daunting.”  

The exhibition is separated into different sections — a timeline of sorts that is also arranged by themes. Templeton highlights the rawness and influence of punk culture that evokes such ephemeral emotions spanning intrigue, humor, and disgust that viewers are left with an intense feeling of familiarity. Through this introspective view of skateboarding, Templeton creates a new sense of community with his art.

“It takes a village to make something like this. It takes the trust of my peers and the people I shot over these years. I mean, it would be nothing without the trust of my fellow skaters.” Templeton said. “Thank you, skateboarding, for what you’ve given to me. A lifetime of adventure, joy, pain, suffering, but also just so much beauty, friendship, camaraderie, a real sense of community.”

Juxtaposing the complexities of modernity with the simplicity of existence, Templeton displays an intriguing documentation of human life, fragility, and change. From a display of polaroids to a collection of injuries, the exhibition does not shy away from the grotesque or silence of the experience of the ordinary as it shares the challenges and fears faced in life.

Templeton, who occupies a unique space as both a skater and an artist, cultivates an immersive experience unlike any other. Providing visuals of lust, self-medication, friendship, and life, “Wires Crossed: The Culture of Skateboarding 1995-2012” is an honest depiction of human life. 

“I just feel embraced by my community tonight, and I just want to give you all the love back,” Templeton said to the crowd at the opening of his exhibition.  

Tickets to visit the Long Beach Museum of Art free for children under 12, $12 for general admission, and $10 for students and seniors. Visit lbma.org to view more information about visiting the exhibit.