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20 Years of Chocolate

Growing up in Southern California means awesome sunsets, great beaches, Vans, beach cruisers, surfing, amazing weather and the perfect skateboard.

Chocolate Skateboards opening reception at Art Share LA
Chocolate Skateboards opening reception at Art Share LA
Louis "Kengi" Carr Photography

If you think Skateboards are just for kids, then you are dead wrong. Skateboards have become pretty much a way of life for people all ages and from all backgrounds. Not a minute passes without seeing someone on a skateboard heading to the beach, school and even to work. Skateboards are mainstream and a very popular mode of transportation here in Southern California.

My first skateboard was orange with brick wheels and man was it a beast, but then came the introduction of smooth rubber wheels, my cousins and I went crazy tricking out our boards with all sorts of custom gear and stickers. Between the 9 of us we went through about 4 Skateboards every four months or so. Rip City Skates loved to see us walk through their doors with our parents A lot has changed since I first started riding skateboards way, way back in the day, but the spirit and brotherhood remains the same.

It was in 1993 when Rick Howard, Mike Carroll, Spike Jonze and Megan Baltimore founded Girl Skateboard Company. For 20 years the brand has pushed the envelope with superior skateboard products, skate videos, and a team of world-renowned top professional riders. In 1994 Chocolate was introduced and became the sister brand to the Girl's line. Even though the brands often exist as one, they both maintain a separate unique identity. Accomplished staff artists Andy Jenkins and Evan Hecox contribute greatly to Girl and Chocolate’s creative personality.

For three days Sarah and the creative team of Chocolate Skateboards worked hard to turn the main gallery and receiving area of Art Share LA into a virtual skateboard shop showcasing the classic style and vast history of this South Bay institution. Their hard work payed off big time.

Friday night the 20 years of Chocolate exhibit opened to a crowed VIP reception. and at 8pm the exhibit opened to the public with lines stretching around the block. From start to finish the entire space was filled with the electric and magical energy that only skateboard enthusiasts can provide. The popup show was open to the public for the weekend before heading to New York.

Legendary skateboarder Chico Brenes, who at the age of 16, became a professional skateboarder and celebrated his 20 year anniversary as a professional skateboarder in 2012, was on hand to sign the commemorative poster which sold for a mere $35.

"I think at the very heart of Chocolate, the most defining piece to it’s inception was Chico. This huge circle of friends left there to start Girl and there was no room for Chico in the van. Literally. The original guys on Girl were all packed in a van, leaving on a sort of “secret” tour and they could not fit Chico in. He was in the parking lot with his bag when they drove away.

In April of 1994, eight months after the launch of Girl, we went back for Chico. And some other great and talented friends that became part of this amazing adventure. " -Megan Baltimore

From start to finish the energy in the Art Share LA space was electric and filled with a vibe that only Chocolate Skateboards could provide.

"It was so outstanding to see how the culture of skateboarding has taking on the essence of art. No more are the skateboards I had when I was eight years old, they are now works of art." -Brian Pierce

Saturday once again the gallery at Art Share LA was buzzing with people stopping by to see the exhibit and even with fans who wanted to see it for a second time.

"I was here the night the show opened, but wanted to come by today to get some pictures and pick up some signed posters. It was a great event." Cyan

Art Share LA is a community cultural arts center located in the heart of the Arts District in Downtown LA with two galleries, artist lofts, ceramic studio, 3 class rooms and 30 live/work micro-lofts. Gallery hours are 1-6pm Wednesday-Saturday. For more information about programs and classes please visit their website.