Dave Ackels: Love for Dayton more than just simple admiration
By Zach Rogers
In the last two decades, the underground sport of skateboarding has certainly risen above ground, and a new culture has emerged in the city of Dayton. From its humble beginnings to now, skateboarding and the urban landscape of this city have often gone hand in hand for the people here, and nobody else has been sitting as close to the action as Dave Ackels. The name should ring a bell for anyone submersed in Dayton’s skateboarding community, but for those of you who don’t let’s get a little more familiar…
You recently won the 2012 Innovation Award from FilmDayton for all the hard work and excellent things you’ve done over the years. What do the award and the recognition mean to you?
It was amazing – I was completely blown away. FilmDayton is awesome, and I wish I had something like that when I was younger. It’s a pretty amazing group of people, and if you are serious about filmmaking in Dayton, they are the perfect place to get started, make connections and find support. I urge anyone who is into film to attend a meeting and see what they are all about. – Dave Ackels
What is it about Dayton that makes it such an interesting place for you?
I just love it. I hear a lot of people dogging Dayton, but I think it’s awesome. I think the landscapes here are amazing and I love the industrial feel. The people are interesting characters – they are just real and themselves, not hung up on ego. There are a lot of talented people running around this city, so it gets me hyped to go film it all. I just don’t understand how people don’t see the beauty in Dayton. I don’t even want to take a vacation, that’s how much I love it. – DA
Some have described your work as holding up a mirror to Dayton. Are you trying to show a specific side of the city?
I think of it as more of an insider’s perspective of the skate scene. As a skater, it’s all about finding new and interesting spots. That’s why the city landscape becomes so integrated with the Absorb series. The surroundings become a character in itself. A lot is going on here if you pay attention. – DA
You’ve been doing the Absorb skate videos for a couple of years now, but before that you started off with skate films like “Dayton Ohio 2,” “Not Liable” and “Observe.” What made you change focus and start your own series, and what makes the Absorb stuff different?
The Internet really changed everything for me. I have so much more freedom to do whatever I want. I can do short pieces, long pieces, soothing pieces, crazy pieces, whatever. Making DVDs was a pain in the past, but now I can film an episode and have it uploaded that day and it’s accessible to everyone for free. I couldn’t ask for more. – DA
How do you think the skateboarding scene has changed in Dayton since you’ve been filming?
The kids are way better now. I mean, we’ve had some great skaters, but this new crop of kids is amazing. It’s mainly because they have access to great spots now where they can practice all day without worrying about getting kicked out. The parks bring skaters together too, so if you start skating with better people you will naturally get better. Kettering built the Plaza in 2005, and the kids that skated and grew up there are so good. To see that kind of progression happen before my eyes is really incredible. – DA
What’s the importance of skating and the culture it creates for the city?
If Dayton would embrace skateboarding by building safe spots throughout the city, it could have a huge impact. Everybody wants Dayton to be successful, so we just need to think outside the box. We want to attract talented professionals here, but we need to do things to make the city a desirable place to live. I know doctors, cops and teachers who skate – skaters are everyday people. If you build something cool, they will come and spend money. Why don’t we have a cool spot in Riverscape? It doesn’t have to be elaborate or expensive, it just has to be fun. It would bring more people to the downtown area, too. They could stop for a drink, a bite and gas, whatever. They spend money here and that’s a win-win if you ask me. The Plaza in Kettering has generated so much revenue for that town and it gave back to the community by being a public park. Dayton’s MetroParks could make a few obstacles throughout the parks on the bike path too. Think about how cool that would be! – DA
Besides film, you also have a unique approach to art. Describe the method you use for your paintings, and how did you discover your knack for the art world?
I was always into art, and I liked drawing, too. It’s always been another creative outlet for me. I was broke in college so whatever I had lying around would be the canvas. I found an old window out skating one day and thought it would be cool to paint on. I started playing around with it and that was that. I discovered all these different things I could do: painting backwards, scraping, refilling, scraping off again and developed my own thing I guess. Having no money is much better because it forces you to be more creative. – DA
You certainly do seem like a highly creative person. Could you imagine yourself doing anything else in life?
Not really, any suggestions? – DA
For more information on the work of Dave Ackels, visit vimeo.com/absorb.
Reach DCP freelance writer Zach Rogers at ZachRogers@daytoncitypaper.com