by Paolo Bichieric
special for tester
Long before Skate was the godfather or the godfather of anything, David Miles Jr. was living in a monochromatic Kansas world. Then in 1979, he got off a bus and walked into San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. The world was painted in color all at once, as Dorothy was stepping from her crashed home into the lightning world of Oz.
“It was magic,” Miles Jr. said.
Thousands of roller skaters lined the streets of the then-closed-to-traffic John F. Kennedy Drive. Miles Jr. knew how to skate, and it wasn’t long before it became a fixture for the community. In 2013, they converted an abandoned church on Fillmore Street into 8 Wheels Church, SF’s roller disco paradise. He and the rest of the city almost lost it to the pandemic.
Now, he’s about to end his decades-long campaign to make Golden Gate Park a fundamental aspect of every SF skater’s life. Working with The City’s roller skating community and San Francisco Recreation and Parks, Miles Jr. is bringing a mural to Skeatin’ Place, the park’s dedicated roller zone, designed by his longtime friend and fellow skating fanatic Amy Brueckner. has been done.
For years, there were Sundays when the field was lit with wheels. But since the pandemic, almost every day people have been zooming in circles on John F. Kennedy Drive near Fulton Street and 6th Avenue.
“During Covid, it was discovered by a lot of people,” Miles Jr. said. “The pandemic brought out new people who saw they could skate safely and in an inclusive way.”
In a unanimous vote on December 16, the San Francisco Recreation and Parks Commission approved the final design for the 28- by 93-foot oval mural. Presumably in February, the Arts Commission will review the details and give a thumbs up or down. If passed, Rick & Park starts breaking ground in the spring. The full installation will take six to eight weeks to finish and will cost around $2,500.
Tamara Barack Apparten, deputy director of communications and public affairs with Rec & Park, said she was thrilled when Miles Jr. and Church of 8 Wheels contacted her team in early 2021 to get some color under their wheels.
All the parks in the city have seen a major increase in usage during the past two years. “Golden Gate Park has never been more used,” said Barack Upparton. “A lot of it is because the John F. Kennedy Drive has been closed to cars since the start of the pandemic.”
COVID has also made roller skating popular again. Activity hit a five-year high in May 2020, according to Google Trends, as TikTok and Instagram users captivated each other’s great spin and backward skating.
However, the roller skaters at Skattin’ Place have been ride-or-die fans since 1984. At the time, Miles Jr. and other acolytes of the wheel developed the Skate Patrol, a group of dedicated skaters who helped people when they crashed or were in an accident. necessary training; They carried medical supplies and a CB radio.
“We quickly established a relationship with The City,” Miles Jr. said. “We didn’t have a second place outside Scattin’ Place.”
Barack Upton said chances are good that the mural will make it concrete from concept, as “it’s on asphalt, so not a very controversial proposition.”
The mural by Amy Bruckner will use yellow, orange, red, teal and purple asphalt acrylic paint, a durable material that resists fading or peeling from heavy use. A weather-resistant sport coating system will allow for simple maintenance and repair.
Brueckner said she started skating about 10 years ago, at the end of her own life change—she was working in the music industry and was diagnosed with a muscle disorder called focal dystonia. She lost her job, and could not use her hand.
“Roller skating feels right when you need it,” she said. “That was the case for me. I fell in love.”
Since then, she has been a part of the Church of 8 Wheels crew, occasionally working as a DJ and graphic artist. She was excited when Miles Jr. suggested that she design the mural.
“It was a pretty simple yes,” Brueckner said.
They went through a lot of concepts for the murals. The community wanted to see a lot of San Francisco in art – hence the Golden Gate Bridge and the inclusion of the psychedelic color scheme. The piece was more complex at first, said Brueckner, but simplicity was the key. With time it should be easy to apply and touch up.
“It will be a living mural,” Brueckner said. “It needs to be sustainable.”
Miles Jr. sees the Skittin’ Place upgrade as one piece in a puzzle to keep the streets closed in the park. They think this is a very special place for cars and the pandemic has only confirmed the quality of life that San Francisco brings.
Eventually, it changed his life from monochrome to vibrant colour.
“My wife, my kids, my family — everything comes together through Golden Gate Park. This mural recognizes and respects that,” Miles Jr. said.