“Fat Mark” Kaake has been gaining attention with his prototype designs of yet the latest leisure/sport/art fusion to come out of Southern California — customized lowrider bikes.
More recently, art galleries have begun to take interest in Kaake’s brand of functional art. Santa Monica’s Track 16 Gallery held an exhibit in February and now Otis College of Art +Design has hopped on.
The Cruise and Destroy: The Imagination of Fat Mark Bikes exhibit opens with a reception at 7 p.m. Saturday, June 4th, at the Otis College of Art + Design Ben Maltz Gallery, 9045 Lincoln Blvd., Westchester. Admission is free. The exhibit continues through Saturday, July 23rd.
The bikes were created by “Fat Mark” and his crew of collaborators, including Jim Muir, Craig Stecyk, Opie Ortiz, Swankone, Justin Reynolds, Steve Fawley, Marco Saiz, Josh Knight and Skully.
“Fat Mark” scours vintage-bike swap meets across the United States for parts and collaborates with artists to do special paint-work on the converted bikes. With the support of his mentor and legendary Dogtown photographer Craig Stecyk, “Fat Mark” developed his signature style and a network of talented artists to help him fulfill his aesthetic vision.
“As a kid I was involved with lowrider culture. My dad was into cars and as a kid, I would try to replicate that with bicycles, the only thing we could pretty much ride,” says the 23-year old Kaake.
“We would just vibe off of our parents creativity and co-show them at lowrider car shows,” he says.
The exhibition coincides with the film release of Columbia Pictures’ film, Lords of Dogtown, about the 1970s Santa Monica and Venice skateboarders who revolutionized the sport. The show includes “Fat Mark’s” collaborative efforts with Stecyk as well as Dogtown kingpin Jim Muir.
The focal piece of the exhibition is “Fat Mark’s” installation, a Pacific Ocean Park tribute that features Dogtown-era photographs, pier pilings and sand. Also included are “Fat Mark’s” first lowrider ice cream cart bike and car set and three new “extreme” bike designs.
“Fat Mark’s” operation is based in Long Beach, where he rents a two-car garage from a friend, he says.
Kaake began making his custom designs, many which are accessories that clip onto existing bike models, at the age of 12.
Juan Gonzales, a family friend, encouraged “Fat Mark” to create fender kits and bicycle accessories that have become the template that most lowrider bike designers use to begin building.
In 1996, at the age of 13, “Fat Mark” won several design and installation titles at the Los Angeles Lowrider Super Show. Since then, he has aligned himself with the “Seven Seven Cartel,” a group of Long Beach artists associated with both music and functional art.
“Fat Mark” has a background in art direction and has designed layouts for such bands as Sublime, Slightly Stoopid, JWD, and Capitol Eye, as well as Skunk Records.
He has presented the culture of the lowrider bike to the art community through exhibitions such as the OsCene:Contemporary Art and Culture in OC at the Laguna Art Museum; and Spin Cycle at Track 16 Gallery in Santa Monica.
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