There is something exciting about the diminutive human standing in the parking lot of Summit Artspace. Jordan Serpentini has a broad smile that radiates warmth and eyes that seem to catch everything and is a person vibrating with life. And life has been anything but predictable for the professional skateboarder, trained reiki master, muralist, miniature painter and musician.
It may seem counterintuitive to find a skateboarding phenom living and working in Akron, but once you enter Jordan’s work space, it all makes sense.
“My entire goal is to essentially help people get out of thinking that life is cyclical. That they’re stuck. They can create their own realities exactly as they want. Everything I do is to inspire others to do as well. To not seek outwardly for satisfaction, but to look inwardly to know that you have everything right there. My eyes see things in different dimensions, different layers. Everything has a purpose to it and a meaning.”
Jordan provides one-on-one skateboarding lessons in the Northeast Ohio area, along with running a business, Ragical Life, out of an office on the first floor of Summit Artspace. The tiny space is a wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling mural of sky, water and surf. An ambitious piece of art designed and painted by Jordan to give the illusion of a bigger space. Although it is hard to imagine Jordan hunched over a desk, the way in which the office is done up really does seem to fit Jordan’s “go go go” personality.
Here, this skater sells custom-painted grip tape and helmets. The sandpaper-like surface, adhered to most skate boards to aid with traction, isn’t an easy medium on which to paint, and the scale is small in comparison with the murals Jordan likes to execute.
“I’m one of the few artists who does that medium (grip tape) because it just rips up your pens. I literally paint on sandpaper. I have to do it very, very lightly.”
“This business (of painted grip tape) started out super backwards. The first thing I had was a professional international skate team, but I didn’t have any place to do it, a website, anything. I was like alright, I have these really great skaters that want to rep this thing. Yes, I realize it’s very backwards, the way this all started. Some people ask me to (create art of) their dog or their grandma, or their favorite place, so when they look down they are looking at something they love.”
With the help of Akron community advocate AaRron Epps, Jordan won a commission painting a large steam train mural inside, and a galaxy mural outside, of the Akron Urban League’s building. It is a personification of the STEAM approach to learning, in which science, technology, engineering, the arts and mathematics are used to guide conversation and exploration in learners.
The finished mural is a fitting representation of what the Urban League offers to the community, and Jordan’s past as a study abroad officer: expanding other’s minds and
lives through a varied education.
“I helped people get to study abroad and get those crazy perspectives that you can only get from throwing yourself into a different culture.”
By the time Jordan was 22 years old, London, Paris, Barcelona, Berlin and Hawaii, had all been added to that unique perspective on life as a winning professional skateboarder. At that time, Jordan was riding an eight-inch blank blue deck with 56 mm wheels. Nowadays, the decks are all custom painted with this skater’s name visible to everyone watching frontside 180s or 360s, although it is much easier to read when Jordan is executing a 540, which is a spin of one and a half rotations midair.
“I don’t really think very analytically,” says Jordan. “It’s all feeling. I don’t really go by my mind. You know how they say you should go by your gut feeling, or your heart. I follow that as best as I can every single day. It doesn’t make sense to a lot of people, but it’s gotten me everything I’ve ever asked for. I want everybody to have that.”
With moves that seem to defy gravity, and logic, one forgets that Jordan is quite small in stature, but personality wise, it would be difficult to find anyone with as much energy and drive, concentration and daring, or even as much love and acceptance for all people, as Jordan. This dynamo is a perfect addition to Akron’s art and culture scene.
Jordan named her company Ragical Life, a combination of two words: rad, short for radical, and magical. For info, visit www.ragicallife.com.
Summit Artspace is located at the corner of 140 E. Market St. in downtown Akron www.summitartspace.org.