Progress report/Jack Fitz Gibbon

photo by Jack Fitz Gibbon

It’s been a great ride so far here at Pura Vida skate park in San Isidro, CR. I arrived on a cold foggy night in November, after a long bus ride from the nations capital, San Jose.

I could finally see the city lights spread wide into the distance across the dark valley. My first day at the park I was taken aback by how good the level of skating was, with both the young and older generation. The kids have energy and motivation to come nearly every day of the week, even with long school hours, and most all of Sundays spent with family. My introduction to the project, and more importantly Christian and Luise was pure coincidence. The first day of my travels in Central America I wound up staying in the same hostel dorm room as Chet Childress, shamefully, due to the fact I live in California, the state under his, and have been skateboarding for 13 years, at that time I was unaware of his name or legendary status in the skateboard world. After talking with a bit with Chet, I landed a spot in the taxies, cruising around San Jose’s bustling center to skate and film at spots, thus meeting Christian and the rest of the crew. Eventually, 6 months into my travels I came to visit the park, and haven’t left ever since. I have been drawing and painting most of my life, though have never given any thought to teaching.

photo by Jack Fitz Gibbon photo by Jack Fitz Gibbon photo by Jack Fitz Gibbon

My concept involves a basic course on drawing and painting; to work the classes into their schedule, I offer 2 one-hour classes per week, for 3 weeks. My classes were all in Spanish, so it gave me a great learning opportunity to improve on my grammar and vocabulary. There was an average attendance of between 5 and10 kids through out the three sessions. The age group I taught was between 9 to 29 years old, including a mother of one of the local skaters. Most classes I start with short interactive lessons including, techniques, geometric forms, and styles of art around the world. I have them focused mostly on free drawing, allowing them to be creative and “let loose.” Often we end classes late because the kids want to stay and finish their work.

A number of kids found they had passion in their work, and certainly some of those few will continue on without classes to develop their own unique styles. The art world is constantly changing; much like a wave, which in no two consecutive moments of its existence is composed of the same particles.

photo by Jack Fitz Gibbon photo by Jack Fitz Gibbon # photo by Jack Fitz Gibbon

Art is intertwined throughout nearly every aspect of life; there is something for everyone, whether it’s skateboarding, putting together cars, painting, photography, or drawing. For some of the kids, this is the first introduction they have had into the world of art. Not all the kids will take a liking to the freedoms it offers, but always there is a select group who jumps at the idea of expressing themselves with pens and paint wherever and whenever they can. My goal is to impress upon them that through patience and practice, the possibilities are endless, like me, they could have their own art shows, or even do graphic design for skate companies.

photo by Jack Fitz Gibbon photo by Jack Fitz Gibbon photo by Jack Fitz Gibbon

I hope also to give them a good impression of the art world I am more connected with; my greatest inspirations are from the ancient cultures of the world. Central and South America being some of the most impressive of them all, I try to incorporate a small bit my personal knowledge of these cultures into the daily lessons. I explain how temples and pyramids built thousands of years ago, were made with precise measurements, and how math relates to art as much as anything else in this world.

photo by Jack Fitz Gibbon photo by Jack Fitz Gibbon photo by Jack Fitz Gibbon

By some odd coincidence, due to their high population in San Isidro, Germans are prominent within the local volunteer projects, so I have gained a greater understanding and love for European cultures wile living in a Central American country. It was a great pleasure living together with German Volunteers Carsten “Barney” Beneker of Vans and Robo Tron Skateboards, and Timo “Brock Landers” Kliche. I was sad to see them leave for home, after so many great experiences, and having helped grow such an amazing project together. I was so exited to learn Pura Vida Skatebaording had won the Skate-Aid Charity Award in Germany; it was a great feeling to know our group effort landed us this honor. It has been the greatest learning experience of my life to teach these amazing kids, and live submerged with the Costa Rican culture.

photo by Jack Fitz Gibbon photo by Jack Fitz Gibbon photo by Jack Fitz Gibbon

I learned to appreciate the time I spent on the project even more after traveling 3 and a half months into Nicaragua. A country which is still struggling with their economy, and horrible post conflict effects of the violent, short lived civil war that took place in the late 80’s, along with years of instability within the government before that. The minimum wage is currently around two dollars, and the unemployment rate has seen radical gains and declines over the last decade. In the recent years, Nicaragua has become a more popular destination for backpackers like myself. This is due to the cheap prices, surfing, and the fact that it was until recently it was undiscovered by the hoard of tourism, which as seen in Costa Rica, can change the entire geography of a town in less than 5 years. Surprisingly, Nicaragua is very popular in the Central American skateboarding scene.
On a short visa run in mid December, Timo and I had the chance to check out a recently built skate park outside of San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua. We found a small, but impressive scene of people dedicated to help grow the skateboarding scene around the country. I think the Project in San Isidro is a great example of this kind of attitude. Some of the kids are there everyday in the park, helping put it all together, smooth out the corners, send word to other parts of Costa Rica for people to come check us out, and get in a few gnarly tricks while they’re at it.

Pura Vida, y paz !

Jack Fitz Gibbon

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