A Spin on Functional Art

Photo by Dan Eggert.

The walls of Drink Coffee are lined with art by local artists, as one may expect of the Sister Bay coffee shop. There are paintings of a deer, a power line set against the backdrop of dark water, an elephant painted with tribal-like symbols, abstract lines and shapes. Instead of the standard framed canvas, however, skateboards display the artists’ talents.

In an effort to raise funds for the new Sister Bay Skatepark, which opened June 11, fundraisers Ron and Lisa MacDonald approached local artists including Ram Rojas, Nik Garvoille, and Jock Hyland with skateboards to render and display at local businesses until they are officially auctioned off in the Art for the Skatepark fundraiser at Marina Fest in Sister Bay.

“There were no requirements, no stipulations,” says artist Nik Garvoille, as he dunks a chocolate chip cookie in a cup of coffee at Drink Coffee. Garvoille and I agree that tall, lanky figures in our teenage years made skateboarding a difficult endeavor. “All the good [skaters] were short,” he laughs.

Though our higher centers of gravity and fear of standing on moving objects have us a little leery of skateboarding, supporting a park for anyone to hone their skills and practice the popular sport safely has us both in favor of the park.

Matthew Burress poses with his skateboard at Drink Coffee

I scan the skateboards, trying to choose my favorite, but the designs are as unique and varied as the individuals who take up the sport of skateboarding, like Matthew Burress, who grills up my Hot Ham and Swiss behind the counter.

“As a skateboarder and an artist, I love having [the skateboards] here,” says Burress, who began long-boarding his freshman year of college. “A lot of skateboarders are artists. And I know a lot of musicians and filmographers who skate. And skating is an art form. They look for new ways to make skating harder and innovative. Skateboarding and art go hand in hand.”

Finally, my attention is drawn to a long board mounted above a large window, a mixed media piece entitled “Babuskhas Nesting” by Carleyrae MacDonald Weber, who lives in Italy during the off season and Sturgeon Bay during the summer season. The piece features a variety of images – such as clocks and a woman’s face – that invoke curiosity. Even the title (“Babuskhas” refers to a woman’s head scarf) speaks of something intriguing. To view more of Weber’s artwork visit

“Babuskhas Nesting” by Carleyrae MacDonald Weber

I would display that piece, I decide, while Matthew Burress has his money on another, which he jokingly asked me not to bring attention to. (Hint: The auction is silent, a trip to Drink Coffee is all it takes to compete with Burress’ bid!)

“If I got one I wouldn’t ride it, I would mount it,” he says.

Whether a skateboarder, an artist, or a supporter of either, stop by Drink Coffee in Sister Bay, grab a cookie and a cup of coffee and peruse.

For more information search ‘Sister Bay Skatepark’ on Facebook.