Bicycles As Art

Lately, bicycles being used as lawn art and landscape elements caused me to pause. Many artifacts from days gone by add to our landscape palette. What I came to grips with was that a bicycle is functional art. Bicycles serve many purposes, not the least that when they reach a point when they really can not serve as transportation, consist of enough artistic elements to become  a creative part of the landscape. Bicycles, in and of themselves, contain much beauty. In working with middle level students, it always stirs their ambitions when a vintage bike rolls in the door. They will tackle cleaning up a vintage bike like ants on an anthill. Scrubbing the rust, the chrome, polishing the paint, and bringing as much of it back to life. So, it comes as no surprise that the creative amongst us finds a bike with some character a great addition to the lawn. Yet, what about the larger picture of the beauty of a bicycle and what people create using the bicycle as a palette?

Bicycle art rolls in a plethora of forms. From silhouettes for painting on a wall, to bike seats mounted in unique fashions, to functional art items such a wearable items – belts form tubes, buckles from gears, earrings from bike items, and jewelry, especially chain jewelry.  Pinterest abounds with pins of bike art. Crafts made from chains, tubes, wheels, and sprockets. Proving once again the versatility of the bicycle. Not only does it come in handy for getting around, it contains  an imagination full of possibilities. If home decor interests you, check out a recent article in the Star Tribune, “Bike-themed home decor is on a roll.”   If you would like to see 104 best images of modern art form on Pinterest that include the bicycle, check out the posting link.

What about a bicycle being too “beautiful” to ride? The Collage family of bicycles come with hand painted, air brushed splendor. Gazxing at some of the absolutely detailed brushings, as well as considering the cost, one might prefer to put it on display as a piece of art work. So, function wrestles with art. Bicycle builders that I know, Blue Steel and Thistle, both of La Crosse, WI., construct a bicycle, one can only sigh with the beauty of the finished product. Many hand built frame builders pop up across the US landscape each year. What makes one design unique over another one might be the geometry, the quality of the craftsmanship, the paint work, or the particular accessories added. The folks I know that take vintage bikes and create something unique, in color and function both, always provide a source of intrigue.


So, what about the paint jobs finding their way onto bikes these days. Overseas, Mpora has put together 18 must see paint jobs. One of them posted here shows a surreal face on a head tube.  What about mountain bikes? They deserve as much verve from the artistic accoutrements as any bike. Check out these mt. bike paint jobs on Red Bull. It does not stop there. A collection of the greatest custom painted bikes can be found on “TOTAL: Women’s cycling;ing web site. What never ceases to amaze is the endless abundance of creativity that the bicycle provides- from fitness to art, infinite possibilities exist. Find your artistic expression with a bicycle!How about the occasional outlier bike design. Check out the work of Gaskill’s Hop Shop, a sculptor using bikes as a medium. Gaskill is a Kentucky designer. (The hop shop design is the unique bike with the middle “wheel” connected to the crank.) If you read, check out a book on one of Italy’s formidable bicycle innovators, Cino Cinelli in Cinelli: The Art and Design of the Bicycle (Hardcover) by Lodovico Pignattie Morano, Anonio Colombo, Felice Gimandi, Barry McGee, Sir Paul Smith.  

In the art world, Portland stood out in its presentation of Cyclepedia. The unique part of the gallery presentation started with the opening. Over 1000 naked bike riders showed up for a discounted price at the door of $1.00 for each piece of clothing they wore. Check out the 40 bikes, depicting pivotal points int he evolution of bicycling.  Even bike racks can be included in the mix. Check out David Byrnes work. Maybe you have your own connection. Be great to connect it with other readers, so get in touch!