Things to Do in Fort Wayne and Beyond

Art in the Skatepark raises money for Slam City

Decorated decks to raise funds at Slam City auction

Dan Keefe of Cardinal Tattoo at Slam City Skatepark

Anthony Gadson

Associate Editor

Published June 29, 2022

If you simply can’t wait for the annual Art in the Park downtown on July 9, Slam City Skatepark is here to help.

On Saturday, July 2, from 5-8 p.m., the skate park at 1412 S. Anthony Blvd. will host its largest fundraiser, the fifth annual Art in the Skatepark with music, food, and skateboard art being auctioned off.

“All funds raised go directly back into the park, to help in paying for new projects, new builds, and even some scholarship types for kids that want to skate, but can’t afford membership passes,” organizer Amber Cox said. “We would rather front that bill for kids interested in doing healthy, safe physical activities in our park, than to see them out getting into trouble on the streets.”

All are welcome

Throughout the year, skateboarders bring broken boards to the skate park, in turn receiving $5 or $10 off admission to the park. Once collected, decks are distributed to artists, who create art on the decks, which are then sold at the fundraiser.

“On the low end, they can go for $25, but we’ve had upwards of $700,” Skatepark owner Rich Hoppe said. “A lot of the tattoo artists have a big following, and they’ll post the boards on their pages, then a group will fight over it. It’s a fun event.”

And when he says “fight,” he doesn’t mean literal.

“This event brings together a huge community of artists, complimenting each other’s works and becoming inspired by the work itself to create more of their own,” Cox said. “It’s a very ‘hype each other up’ atmosphere.”

The inclusiveness of the event can be seen in the artwork itself, which included 73 decks last year, with 60-65 submitted two weeks before this year’s show, and more to come.

“You might see a pro-Trump board right next to a huge Pride one,” Hoppe said.

Artists of all skill levels

To prepare for the show, Hoppe says the park is closed a week. Once it’s ready, things might look a little different, but the vibe remains.

“Kids running around, skaters doing tricks, and mini competitions in the background of the parking lot,” Cox said. “And there’s mini ramps, groups of people catching up, especially after the shutdown. It’s a total laid-back blast.”

DJ Dap One will supply music, while burgers and hot dogs are on the grill, with vegetarian options available.

And, of course, once the doors open, the bidding begins on works from the likes of Tim Baron, Kay All Day, and Will Bresley, as well as the artists from Cardinal Tattoo. 

“We generally reach out to known artists, tattoo artists, and basically anyone that is willing to donate their time and artistic abilities to our fundraisers,” Cox said.

That includes some younger artists.

“We have even had some children do boards for us in the past years, which is adorable and they always get bid on, which boosts confidence levels in these little artists,” Cox said.

Place for youth to grow

In the end, the fundraiser is about those kids.

“Summer is our slowest time of the year, because kids are going outside, which is what we want: We don’t really want kids coming inside to skate in a 90-degree building,” Hoppe said.

But while those kids are outside, income at the park suffers, which leads to the need of fundraisers like Art in the Skatepark. 

“Our park provides a family environment that helps instill a sense of belonging and camaraderie amongst the kids in our Fort Wayne community,” Cox said. “It really makes us all emotional seeing it all come into fruition at the end, knowing the end result is helping the youth have a place to go that is good for their souls. It’s by far the favorite event of the year by a lot of artists.”

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