Kendall artist Josh Hall likes to think of his Baghead persona as a bad tattoo. As a teen running around with fellow graffiti writers, he felt pressured to devise an alter ego and suitably badass backstory. The Felix Varela Senior High School alum created a narrative that involved hiding behind his art and letting the work speak for itself, hence the need for a bag over his head.
“I figured if I had a bag over my head, it would metaphorically be about the artwork,” Hall says. “It kind of sucks, but I carried it along. It’s like a bad tattoo. You can try to cover it up, but it will always be there.”
Now 31 years old, Hall is ready to introduce Baghead to Miami audiences properly via his debut solo exhibition in his hometown. Opening at Superchief Gallery Miami in Wynwood this Saturday, November 9, "Shadowplay" will display Hall’s art, which is heavy on animal imagery — particularly ducks, dogs, and snakes — and light on canvases. He says he “can’t stand” painting on canvas and will show only one piece in that medium at the exhibition.
Hall prefers the unconventional, which explains why he’s making his exhibition skateboard-friendly. He hopes people will not only come in and absorb his work but also skate the quarter pipes built for the show.
Skateboarding sparked Hall's interest in making art. Having been skating since he was 11, he developed his love for painting on wood after repainting skateboards for his friends. After coming across the idea of a skateable art exhibit during a stay in Portland, Oregon, Hall thought the concept would work well with "Shadowplay" and give him an opportunity to show the impact his two passions made on him.
Plus, the idea of ambient skateboarding sounds accompanying his art was music to his ears.
“The whole theme behind the show started from this one sculpture I was working on," Hall says. "I was rubbing my fingers on the sculpture and grinding on the edge of it: What if I took this and made it eight by ten feet tall? I wanted to turn it into something skateable.”
Hall says a job at Zumiez, a skateboarder-oriented apparel store at the Shops at Sunset Place in South Miami, influenced his aesthetic and approach to combining skateboarding with visual art.
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“Once you walk past the entrance, you’ll take a dive into this crazy Dr. Seuss, Disney World type of thing," he says of the layout of his exhibition. "I hope you get a feel for what I grew up on: the sound of skateboards crashing on a ramp and metal fences being climbed over.”
Guests visiting "Shadowplay" will notice the color palette of Hall's exhibit — whose opening will double as the release party for the fall issue of the art magazine Juxtapoz — is heavily red, orange, and black. It’s a nod to the traditional colors of the Miami Heat and a repudiation of the NBA team's aqua and hot-pink "Vice City" jersey that's recently been all the rage. For Hall, it's another example of him hanging left while others are going right.
“I’ve been seeing the same colors and art deco designs, the same Miami skyline and Miami Beach,” Hall says. “That’s great. It will always be there. But I don’t need to do that. I’d rather go in another direction.”
"Shadowplay" Opening. 7 to 11 p.m. Saturday, November 9, at Superchief Gallery Miami, 2450 NW Fifth St., Miami; 646-281-3189; superchiefgallery.com. The exhibit will be on view through Sunday, November 24.