George Peterson debuts a collection of sculptures made from used decks in the exhibition Shred / Grind / Carve, opening on Friday, June 3, 6-10pm, at Altered Space Gallery on Abbot Kinney in Venice Beach. We caught up with him beforehand for a little back story.

You’ve been quoted as saying you “channel a lot of destructive energy” into your work. Sounds, well, destructive.
You can take any feeling and channel it into art to get a result. For me it tends to be an aggressive energy, almost vandalism. My process is pretty destructive. It’s physical—I cut and I sew. There’s an emotional quality to that act, to creating a scar and exaggerating it.

The sewing almost looks like African art.
Yes, there is definitely that aesthetic. And there’s an implication of cultural history in that look. There are actually a lot of parallels between African and Western society. Take tattoos for instance: intentional scarring for stylistic purposes. Tattoos definitely influence my work.

How exactly did the wood “scars” come about?
My work hasn’t always been so destructive. I used to strive for perfection in my earlier work.  I began using unseasoned wood in an attempt to keep up with demand and the warping and cracking started appearing. I loved seeing the wood like that. It lets the wood speak and adds a lot of character to the finished piece.

Music has a big influence on the finished product. You’ll see my work respond to what I’m listening to at the time—Social Distortion, Rancid, Jack White, Dead Weather, Fu Manchu, the Flaming Lips, DEVO, the Hives, the Kills, Nick Cave, the list goes on. There’s a harmony between the chainsaw and the electric guitar or the percussion in a song and the chopping of wood.

Why skateboards?
I like to  carve and paint on almost anything: old doors or  furniture,  used plywood, logs…and then one day  I was looking at my skateboard and I thought, damn, that’s a piece of wood, why haven’t I carved on a skateboard?  Still, it took me awhile to do it. I was hesitant because there is so much deck art being done these days and I thought it might seem somewhat kitschy, but after I did that first one, I knew it was on. I’ve done about 300 of them in the last few years. I really have fun making them. My goal now is to do larger and more complex installations of them. One day, I’d also like to make a big skateboard totem  out of one piece of wood. It would be my version of those chainsawn bears you see everywhere. How cool would that be? A 10 foot, primitive skateboard, charred with fire and then left to weather?  Oh baby…

Are you skating at all these days or is it studio-time all the time?
I have a ramp in my studio and skate all the time.

You can find details on the exhibition at
You can visit George’s website at




Opening Night: June 3, 2011, 6-10 PM

Altered Space Gallery
 | 1221 Abbot Kinney Blvd. | Venice Beach, CA 
| 90291 | 310-452-8121

Regular Hours:
Sun – Tues 12pm – 6 pm
Wed & Thur 11am – 6pm
Fri & Sat 11am – 7pm

(May 2011—Los Angeles) Perhaps artist George Peterson summarizes both his methodology and aesthetics best–“I channel a lot of destructive energy into my art”. For his upcoming Shred Grind Carve exhibition, opening June 3, 2011, at Altered Space Gallery in Venice Beach, Peterson cuts, burns, paints and even re-stitches old skateboard decks into post-functional masterpieces that more closely resemble African art than they do found commercial objects. Throughout his process, Peterson unearths a well of cultural history associated with the lifestyle his raw material hails from—the celebration of physicality, the mystification of scarring, and a skate and destroy ethos that honors the destruction of both vehicle and terrain—and yet the artist’s finished product is an elegant, hand-crafted piece of wall art, more museum object than skatepark detritus.

Peterson’s North Carolina studio is loud as machines and music whir while the artist works. Peterson insists that he hears and finds formal inspiration from this blending of elements—the harmonies between chainsaws and guitars or the polyrhythms produced by ax and drums. Peterson is likewise drawn to native cultures and the so-called primitive arts that express an intimate relationship, not unlike his own, between raw material, transformation, and finished product.

The artist has utilized found and recycled materials since the beginning of his practice—destroying them is a more recent development however. Born in the Southern California desert now living/working in North Carolina, Peterson has long been drawn to the native hard woods found locally. Early in his career he would aspire to a formal perfection in his work—turned wood bowls with an impossibly flawless finish—yet once, while under a time crunch to keep up with demand, Peterson errantly used unseasoned wood—and his first cracked appeared. He was instantly drawn to the warping and cracking, and was soon aggressively pursuing a new destructive, and ultimately creative, course that put his wooden pieces through a gauntlet of abuse that also includes scorching, painting and eventual re-construction. The result of this process is evident in Shred Grind Carve, opening June 3, 2011, at Altered Space Gallery in Venice Beach, CA. Peterson’s works are included in celebrated collections internationally, including the Oval Office, Tom Ford, Mint Museum of Craft + Design, Boston Fine Arts Museum, and the Wustum Museum.