Jason Vance Dickason
SK: What are you doing?
JVD: Hanging drywall. Trying to get the studio ready for Wintertime. There’s an attached garage to this house I just bought here in Prineville. It’s bare-bones, I’m just stripping the whole thing out.
SK: How did this project come together?
JVD: I was camping near Maupin with my girlfriend, we’d had no reception of any kind and figured we’d go to the bar, get a cocktail or two, and check our phones. Gray had gone through and liked a bunch of my work (on instagram). It was a stab in the dark, but I thought I’d see if Gray wanted to trade a deck for a small painting. So I dropped him a line. When I got back to Portland, he had sent some mock-ups of the 2020 line all ready. I was blown away, and was like- you bet!
SK: Gray was in New York with me and Pete that week working on board graphics, and we saw your paintings. We dropped a few onto our board shapes, and they worked immediately. Their vertical gestures especially carry a feeling of kinetic energy that translates so well to a snowboard.
JVD: The linework too. Think about a carve, it’s drawing a line as well.
“Think about a carve, it’s drawing a line as well.”
SK: What’s your art background?
JVD: Like everybody’s. Skateboarding, Chris Miller graphics got me sketching. I was always interested in art but it didn’t seem like art school was going to happen. I ended up putting art off for a long time, then my Mom got sick. She said; the only time I’ve ever known you to be really happy is when you were a kid, and you were painting. She made me promise that I would start painting again, and I did.
SK: It’s incredible to be graced with that kind of permission and insistence to pursue art.
JVD: I’m a fabricator, and a welder. Life took me in a different direction, but that impulse was always there. Even when I’m at work, I’m still thinking about it. That was the big push. I knew I wanted to do this. At the time in Portland, it was easy to go get a studio space. I had a 400 square foot studio space for $275 a month.
SK: Obviously, the cost of living in Portland isn’t what it once was.
JVD: That’s why I’m out here in Prineville now. My studio rent in Portland went from $630 to $1100 in two years. Art isn’t my primary income source, I was still working 40 hours a week as a fabricator, and we were living in a basement. My girlfriend asked how we were ever going to get out of this. We like going to Bachelor, so decided to just get as close to there as possible. We found a great house in Prineville and pulled the trigger.
SK: Do you think working in the practical arts affected the way you’ve pursued your fine art?
JVD: Definitely. Being a welder has impacted the composition in my work. The sharp sense of geometry- very angular, that comes from having a background in that vocation. I would like to move on from welding though. It’s been eighteen years.
SK: In the mid to late 90’s art world there was very little emphasis on materials and finish quality. Performance art and non-narrative video pieces ruled the day.
JVD: Artwork at the time was more environmentally based. Painting was considered a waste of time. I build all my own sub-surfaces. If you look at the panels that I make, from my years of working in fabrication, the corners are square and true, there are no seams. The object is in and of itself sealed off from you in a sense. Contained in its own environment.
SK: The boards are beautiful, and its so interesting to re-contextualize your artwork. The paintings will be sliding down mountains instead of hanging on white gallery walls.
JVD: That’s the most exciting part. I’ve been snowboarding since 1987. It’s got so many levels for me, and the boards will be seen all around the world. I snuck my Mom’s credit card and ordered my first real board of the back of a catalog. It was a Burton 130, I should have gotten the 140. Learned to ride on that, and graduated to a Gnu Chaos. I’ve still have several Movement snowboards and I ride every one of them, and they ride so well. I have the board from 93-94 that I got from Mark (Hibdon, co-founder of the Movement Snowboards). And I’ve been collecting them for years.
SK: The Movement was so mysterious and different from other snowboard companies at the time. I have an old Blunt Magazine in the studio here somewhere with a great interview with Matt Donahue where he’s all decked out in cool vintage ski gear.
JVD: That was just really the vibe of Portland at the time brought up to the mountain. There wasn’t really gear like we have now. Bonfire hadn’t started yet. You had Burton, and whatever else at the time.
SK: That was really before technical snowboard outerwear fully arrived.
JVD: I think Wave Rave was the first jacket that I had that was a real snowboard jacket. Not a Columbia, or some ski driven brand. There’s a photo of me at Timberline, I was on a Yellow Bus if you remember them. The flex was really soft so when you landed it slipped out from under you every single time, but still a super fun board. Stances were big. I’ve got a canvas jacket and a pair of big size 40 waist pants on.
SK: What are your plans for this year?
JVD: Now that I’m not in the city anymore, I can pull away and figure out the next direction for my painting. When we lived in the city, I got up at 6, and welded ‘til 4. Then from 4:00 ‘til 9:30 at night I was in the studio. It was more about making the work than marketing it. I’d like to find a gallery or two outside Portland to show with. I’m really looking forward to riding Bachelor. It’s the most fun mountain I’ve ever been on.
INTERVIEW HAS BEEN CONDENSED AND EDITED.
All photos courtesy of the artist.