We HeArt Bikes
There’s something about the shape of the bicycle that appeals to many artists. Artists as diverse as Marcel Duchamp, Claude Monet and Andy Warhol have made bicycle-inspired artwork. It might be the vehicle’s sleek, simple, efficient design. It might be the bicycle’s evocation of a hazy, pastoral, continental life—the idyllic image of an afternoon spent riding a bike through rural France, stopping for a picnic. Or maybe it’s because many artists are broke and have to rely on bikes as a cheap form of transportation.
Whatever the reason, artists like to paint bikes or use bike parts in sculptures or do performance pieces that require bike-riding or many other things that combine the bicycle with art. The Reno Bike Project’s annual We HeArt Bikes exhibition is an open invitation to local artists to celebrate two-wheeled, human-powered transportation, and to support the local nonprofit organization, which operates a community bike shop and advocates for bicycling as viable transportation through community outreach, educational programming and engagement with local city planners.
The We HeArt Bikes exhibition has been a staple of the RBP’s annual calender since it was founded eight years ago. RBP co-founder and executive director Noah Silverman estimates that about 30 artists will donate works for the exhibition this year, which will be held at Reno’s Holland Project. RBP is renting the space from the Holland Project, which allows them to do things a little differently than most Holland Project events—specifically, it means there’s going to be beer. New Belgium Brewing, brewers of the popular bicycle-themed beer Fat Tire, are one of the event’s sponsors. And DJ Mega-Bold will provide tunes for the reception on April 19.
In years past, the event has been a raucous party, but Silverman said that more recently, the event has become more focused on the actual artwork.
This year’s exhibition includes Bryce Chisholm’s stylish mixed-media painting “Outfoxed,” which depicts an anthropomorphized fox in the heat of a bike race. Emma Auriemma donated a drawing, “Fancy Ridin’,” depicting a classy gal on a bike. There’s also Jamie Worley’s “The Mighty,” an elegant close-up photograph of a bicycle crank, Anthony Arevalo’s sculpture made from bicycle trophies, and Rod Lambourne’s functional artworks, wall clocks built out of bicycle parts. Local muralist Joe C. Rock contributed a canvas painting of Pee-wee Herman’s distinctive red cruiser from Pee Wee’s Big Adventure, one of the all-time great bicycle movies.
Proceeds from the event help support the RPB’s Major Taylor Ride Club, an after-school bike club for at-risk youth. The RBP partners with Boys and Girls club and Kids Cottage to teach 10 classes, covering bicycle safety and riding techniques for street and mountain bikes to kids who might not otherwise have access to bikes.
Just as many artists are drawn toward bikes, many bicyclists are drawn toward art. That might be because time spent in the open air, on the open road, tends to change the way one sees the world.
“I think riding a bike and making art are both emotive processes and emotive experiences, so I think the two come together seamlessly,” said Silverman. “And part of our mission is to promote the culture of cycling. And what’s more cultural than art?”