Matt Brady has been a pioneer of Brisbane street culture for a long time. The owner of iconic Brisbane clothing store The Outpost has also had a large role in shaping Brisbane culture in the arenas of art and music. Matt used to own the very popular Woodland venue, where live music was a major focus, and for the past decade he has been in charge of running I Used To Skate Once, an art exhibition that celebrated local talent and skating culture.
The tenth iteration of this event is set to be the biggest yet, with The Zoo accommodating the exhibition itself as well as having a separate experimental music room installed in a shopfront below. The art on display is from a wide variety of local artists and interstate talent, some of who are veterans of the scene and some of who are up-and-comers.
We spoke to Matt in the lead-up to the exhibition to talk about where it all started and what we can expect this year.
Where did the initial idea for IUTSO come from?
We wanted to do something that wasn't a fashion parade — every man and his dog were doing fashion events around that time. I also realised that there were a lot of creative people that were customers. So the skateboard thing was something small canvas and that was relevant to most people who shopped with us.
In New York there is a guy called Aaron Rose who did a similar show called Minimal Tricks around the same time. His book for his gallery came out a few years back and he did a skateboard art show. I thought 'I'm on the right page' with something new to do.
What made you want to make it an annual thing?
We had so much fun doing it that we wanted to do it again! ... It was great because it was all of our friends together. It was a real nice atmosphere, everyone had a good time. It was like having a house party and an art show at the same time. Everyone knew each other. Looking back at the photos now, it was such a nice big group of people that really supported one another — and they still do! A lot of them are in the show on Thursday.
How do you go about selecting your showcase artists?
It kind of snowballs; there is no rhyme or reason. It starts off with me picking five or so people I really want to have in the show and then it will snowball from there. I do work with a lot of artists that produce products from the shop. There are always new kids coming through that are doing photography or have their own thing going and I will grab them as well.
I try to make a mixture of fifty percent male and fifty percent female. Sometimes I just pick people that are loyal customers. Sometimes they aren't the most talented artists but I like to give them a chance. There is a pretty weird selection process; we can't have everyone we want in the show unfortunately.
What do you do to keep things fresh and interesting?
Lately I have been trying to mix up certain elements. One year we had all of the bands on the floor instead of the stage, the next year we custom built a quarter-pipe. This year we have an experimental electronic room. Obviously we like people being creative with music as well as art. There will be visuals from Pale Earth in that room as well, so there will be an artistic element to it.
What do you think of the current art and music scene in Brisbane? Do you think it is in a good place right now or could it be improved?
Brisbane is a great place. We are lucky to have places like GOMA and events like GOMA Up-Late, there are a lot of smaller, artist-run galleries that have come and there are a lot of great bands, regardless of genres. New venues like The Brightside are fantastic for music. I keep a low profile most times but there always seems something to do.
Are there are any local artists and musicians that you are digging at the moment?
I really like Charlie Hillhouse's photography; Heinz Riegler has been great with music and art; Alex Gillies with his woodcuts is amazing. He just had a show in Melbourne. Elana Mullaly is in the show and she is amazing.
Band wise, I like Brainbeau (who are headlining the electronic room). Roku Music, obviously — their stuff sounds like My Bloody Valentine which is great! Per Purpose are sounding really good these days and Blank Realm are going to take over the world; they will, that's happening.
What are your favourite places to eat, drink and party?
I always drink coffee at Jamie's Espresso in the morning. I don't mind doing a quiet bar hop in West End, so I might go to the Bearded Lady, The End and then see a band at The Hi-Fi or The Waiting Room, then go home. I find West End to be really easy for me.
I have been in The Valley for so long that it is nice to have somewhere else to go. I still love Black Bear Lodge, though! I'm into being around like-minded people which can be hard in big clubs.
Sometimes I like going out to Sunnybank, any of the restaurants there are great. I like places that are high-end cuisine and cheaper eats.
I Used To Skate Once 10 is taking place on June 26 at The Zoo. Live performances from Roku Music, Statler+Waldorf, Goon Sax, Brainbeau, Pale Earth and more. Entry is free.
Published on June 24, 2014 by James Frostick