In 2002, “Lurker” Lou Sarowsky moved to New York City with his longtime friend and fellow Cape Cod native Zered Bassett, into a now infamous, windowless apartment in Lower Manhattan. Sarowsky dubbed it the “Vicious Cycle” house, and his crew kept up a rigorous schedule of skateboarding all day and filming for Bassett’s indie-skate video of the same name, followed by nights of smoking, drinking, and playing pool.
For the past decade, Sarowsky’s cycle has become less boozy and even more prolific, as he’s continued to release skate footage, co-founded Iron Claw Skateboards with partner Tyler Mate, operated the consignment shop Rollgate Skates in Bushwick, and devoted the rest of his free time to hunting and gathering discarded items around New York and repurposing them into art.
“Being an artist in Brooklyn is like being a fisherman on Cape Cod,” says “Lurker” Lou Sarowsky. He eschews the “street art” category for his found object pieces on display at BK Wearhouse, starting tonight with an opening from 7-10pm. What he does is purposeful, analytical, tactical, and laced with humor; it’s an extension of the lens he looks through, as both a creative and a skateboarder.
The brunt of the show will be comprised of his signature “card boards” featuring all New York City sports teams. He creates them out of used skateboards and an array of themed cards, including vintage sports cards, old IDs, expired credit cards, and soda labels. They’re all affixed to the maple decks with a heavy epoxy, giving them a shine that almost illuminates the objects. Most of the cards are donated from friends, pulled from a private stash, and most recently, during World Series fever, commissioned by people hitting him up on Instagram. For the more unique pieces found in his feed, Sarowsky is often tipped off by other skaters, out in the streets, exploring undocumented terrain.
“A friend of Bobby Worrest’s [Krooked Skateboarding professional] texted me—I didn’t even know the dude—that there was a fire hydrant on Myrtle Ave. in Bushwick,” he says of the focus piece of tonight’s show. “Zered [Bassett] found one knocked over for me too. [Bobby] Puleo (Victim skateboards owner/rider) hits me up all the time saying, ‘Dude, there’s one on Atlantic Ave. in Ozone Park.’ This one was definitely a drunk driver that had hit it and took out a tree. I want all my shows going forward to have at least one fire hydrant, because it’s such a classic, staple skate obstacle. It’s a hard object to obtain. The best way to do them is to find them and cover them on the spot, almost like Mosaic Man’s work on St. Marks.”
The angles and stiffness of the hydrants dictated using more malleable image sources, so this particular piece has layers taken from the pages of 1930s/40s Life magazines, allowing different bits and sections to poke through beneath the transparent plastic coating. Along with the ongoing card board series, he’s decorated a full room at Sing Sing karaoke and hopes to commission more installation work, leveraging his set-building background. His love of sport cards goes back to childhood obsession, where a recent and somewhat unexpected turn in his work also stems from.
“I got into seaglass last winter,” he says. “The community is filled with a lot of odd people that like collecting garbage on the beach, but I was doing it when I was a kid– I was always fascinated by it. Over the last 10 years I’ve been mildly collecting at Fort Tilden, but then I stumbled upon a beach in Astoria that was all seaglass and the idea just clicked. This woman from Chesapeake Bay started the challenge last summer. I didn’t understand it at first– I’d see five different people in my Instagram feed posting a yellow piece of seaglass hastagged #beachphotochallenge. I didn’t see a lot of New York people doing it. There were a lot of people in the Great Lakes, which is surprising, a lot West Coast people… Puerto Rico, but they all trip out on what I find, because New York is kind of like a big landfill.”
Lou Sarowsky’s show opens tonight at BK Wearhouse, 175 Roebling Street. 7-10PM.