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NEW YORK — To hear photographer Angela Boatwright tell it, her first solo show, “Killer of Giants,” at the Riviera Gallery in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, is a community effort. The curator, pioneering graphic designer Matt Owens, is a friend and the photos are all of people she considers family — that they are well-known skateboarders is besides the point.
“There are plenty of skateboarders who are extremely famous on the East Coast that you will not see pictures of in my show because I do not know them,” says Boatwright. “I wanted my first solo show to represent the people that are closest to me.”
Initially, it seems strange that this diminutive, Ohio-born heavy-metal fan makes the skate-graffiti community her home. Boatwright started her career 10 years ago shooting hard-core bands, but she found that her straight-forward style was better suited towards shooting rappers, who were more in tune with her approach. Similarly, Boatwright describes her friends in the skating community as “totally honest — they don’t make apologies for who they are.”
While “Killer of Giants” contains portraits of skaters like Lauren Mollica and Pat Smith, Boatwright’s images avoid the obvious, with nary a skateboard to be found. Mollica breathes fire into the night sky, while Smith plays an acoustic guitar in his bedroom.
The show’s opening night drew a big crowd and included such boho luminaries as actor PJ Ransone, who stars in the Larry Clark film “Ken Park.” “I like the intimacy of her work,” he said. “You can tell that, aside from them being involved in a particular sort of culture, the subjects are important to her.”
For his part, author Sacha Jenkins attempted to explain just how a metalhead like Boatwright could fall in with the skating and tagging crowd so easily. “I think her connection with metal has helped her make the transition,” said Jenkins. “It’s all the same sort of essence…that pure natural energy, and that’s what she captures in her work.”
As the gallery drained out, the crowd made its way to the ramp at KCDC, a nearby skate shop. There Boatwright stood by, watching her friends roll past and appreciating their talent just as they appreciate hers.