At nine months old, Luke Andrews-Tezza took his first steps. By age two, the quiet daredevil had learned to ride a bike, ditching the training wheels soon before his third birthday. “He just took off and never stopped,” laughs his mother, Maria Andrews, who describes her energetic son as “go, go, go.” Roll forward seven years, and Luke’s still two-wheelin’, though these days he’s training his wheels on canvas as much as asphalt.
With a gift for visual arts and a love of any type of boarding—wave, skate, skim, or paddle—the mop-topped 10-year-old combines his passions into an awesomely original performance art. Steering a wave-board (for those not enrolled at the School of Cool, it’s a sort of hinged skateboard) through blobs of tempera and across a taped-down canvas, Luke creates vivid abstract paintings that give new meaning to the term creative streak.
He discovered the innovative technique by accident, after spilling paint in the carport one dull afternoon. As any bored kid might, Luke began to play in his mess. “I just decided to get on my wave-board and ride through it. It looked cool, so I kept going,” he explains. Maria admits to “freaking out” when she first saw what he’d done, but to be the mother of a budding artist means allowing him a certain measure of creative chaos. Recognizing that he’d stumbled—or rather, rolled—onto a unique process, she and Luke procured a large sheet of paper from the neighboring Island Gallery (now Everett White Gallery), and his first wave-board artwork surfaced.
Watch the young artist cruise atop his board-turned-brush, making smooth, deliberate marks, and you begin to understand how expressive a boy of so few words can be. He’s a cool rider, as comfortable on two wheels as he is on two feet, circling the canvas in a hypnotic ebb and flow, gliding up and down ramps on either side, and carving through colors. He scoops bottles of paint from the wings of his workspace without ever dismounting, adding layer upon layer and mesmerizing the audience until finally he declares, “I think I’m done.” The resulting pieces, with their wild and curving bands of color, earn titles like Fireworks, Black Wave, and Marsh Grass.
Last December, Everett White invited Luke to take part in the gallery’s Action Art series. As the youngest participant, he kept audiences in awe by performing his technique on an outdoor platform. Since then, the fifth-grader auditioned for the School of the Arts with 300 others and was among 20-some students accepted into the visual arts program. A LEGO buff, Luke says he’s excited to learn sculpting in addition to honing his drawing and painting talents. And with his work appearing in Piccolo Spoleto’s “Rising Stars” invitational exhibition last May and plans for a second Action Art show in the works, it seems the wave-board wonder is on quite a roll.
Favorite Subjects: Social studies (after art, of course)
Extracurricular Activities: Sullivan’s Island Elementary Art Club
Career Aspirations: To be either a professional skateboarder or an artist
Influences: Artists Edward Andrews (his uncle), Pablo Picasso, and Jackson Pollock
Fun Fact: With the money Luke earns from selling paintings, he buys LEGOs (another favorite pastime). Last spring, he entered the John M. Dunnan Gallery’s LEGO Spectacular, where he earned second place for his construction of an Eiffel Tower with a monster on top.