Travis Rice is embedded in many minds as the unknown rookie who rocked up and stomped a backside rodeo on a narrow, 117-foot-long spine tabletop at Superpark 5 in 2001, before going on to become one of most influential pro snowboarders in the biz.
But between trips to the backcountry and the park, this athlete has managed to find the time to cultivate his artistic interests.
When people think about skiers, skateboarders or snowboarders they don't automatically associate them with the realm of art snobs. But on the whole, this athletic community is very aesthetically aware and certainly not afraid to colour outside the lines. In fact, their equipment often also functions as an unconventional canvas, boasting vivid, powerful graphics and imagery.
Through his work in the snowboard industry, Rice has been surrounded by the aesthetic, and had the opportunity to work with incredibly talented photographers and designers who create board graphics and campaigns. An avid art lover, the pro rider has long supported the arts by buying and commissioning pieces, even co-producing the film That's It, That's All . But now, he's taking his passion to the next level, opening an online and roving art gallery that focuses on high-quality prints and carefully-curated pieces produced by his fellow riders and action-sport lovers.
Rice was in the Alaskan backcountry early this week but found time to talk about his new project, dubbed Asymbol.
"I guess after years of being in and around it, I just started noticing that there was a serious separation between the creators and the appreciators, in terms of some of these top guys' finest works. And I just really wanted to try and create a platform for them that kind of melded the two worlds," he said.
Artists and photographers include Mike Parillo, Jamie Lynn, Ari Marcopoulos, Scott Lenhardt, Tim Zimmerman, Danny Zapalac, Adam Haynes, Jeff Curtes, Nick Russian, Mike Blabac, Matt French and Trent Mitchell. They're also currently exhibiting I Am Snowboarding, a collection of mixed-media art and photography collaboration pieces inspired by the life of snowboarder Jeff Anderson, who died in an accident in 2003.
Rather than open a permanent gallery in the midst of an economic recession, Rice and his team decided to cut back on overhead costs and reach a much wider audience (think global) by having an online gallery rather than a physical space. The website, asymbolgallery.com, acts as a "storefront" for the gallery, offering detailed views of the works they are currently featuring. As well, a detailed written description, capturing the back story of each piece, is available when you click the "Behind The Scenes" tab. There, you'll find the powerful personal moments and memories that inspired the artists/photographers to create.