O bicycle, where art thou?
The Reno Bike Project’s annual art show returns for the fifth time
Spring is in the air, and with it comes all the typical signs of the season: birds chirping, flowers blooming and the steady buzz of bicycle wheels.
Yes, with the warmer weather, we are all suddenly reminded of that trusty bike we’ve had tucked away safely from the snow all winter. And what better way to bust it out than a welcoming party of sorts? A celebration of an environmentally friendly form of transportation—in all its shapes, sizes and uses.
The 5th Annual We HeArt Bikes event, a fundraising art show for the Reno Bike Project, is just around the corner. The popular event will help usher in spring’s arrival Saturday, April 2, at the Hobson Gallery, 315 Spokane St., staring at 5 p.m.
“We’ve always done it as spring is starting,” says We HeArt Bikes curator and Reno Bike Project program director Anthony Arevalo of the show’s timing. “Unfortunately most people haven’t really been thinking about their bikes all that much during winter, so it’s a takeoff to the season.”
Priceless work of bike
We HeArt Bikes is the ever-growing baby of Reno Bike Project, a local organization built around promoting the use of bikes as an alternative form of transportation, and aiding to keep them maintained and accessible to people from all walks of life.
The premise behind the show itself is to commemorate the bike in any way imaginable. The only requirement for submitting art pieces is that they deal with bikes. That could be as simple as a photograph or as abstract as performance art.
One such example from a previous show is what Reno Bike Project executive director Noah Silverman considers one of the most memorable submissions. “The weirdest one was when Anthony [Alston, a local artist] did a performance piece the first year in which he wore nothing but a jock strap and attempted to ride a bicycle while riding on his back, in the rain, in the middle of March. Meanwhile, everyone was inside just looking out the window at him.”
Of course, there are also more traditional pieces that leave a lasting impression. Along with a simple oil painting of a woman on a bike, a work submitted by iron worker/artist Montana Albitre is one of Arevalo’s favorites. The antique style bike, featuring wheels from an 1890s wheelchair and a “funky” steering wheel, is depicted on this year’s show flyer.
Submissions are due by April 1. One of the special aspects to the We HeArt Bike show is that one doesn’t have to be a traditional “artist” in order to participate—the RBP encourages everyone and anyone to show off the creative bike lover within.
“A good reason to come out to the art show is to see how well Reno’s represented in bicycle art culture,” Silverman says. “We accept every submission and every submission gets hung—whether or not it sells is really not that important to us. We just want to get people together, promote cycling and cycle culture, and get people excited. To see the passion cycling brings to people is contagious.”
The fundraiser has been picking up speed since its initial show five years ago. Part of its success can be attributed to its wide appeal.
The show typically kicks off in the early evening with a family friendly atmosphere that offers finger food a mellow vibe of art viewing and mingling. Then, by about 8 p.m., the bands begin to play. This year features local indie-rockers My Flag is on Fire, and Phoenix-based country-folk The Bindle Stiffs. The party begins with beer free with donation provided by New Belgium Brewing, and rocking out aplenty, the celebration of cycling goes into the wee hours of the night. “We went home about 2 or 3 last year,” Silverman recalls.
The art show’s steady growth is part of the reason they chose to switch venues this year. The previous two were both held at Studio on 4th, and other past locations include GraySpace Gallery and Never Ender Gallery.
This time around, thanks to a newly formed partnership with the art collective the Salvagery, the Hobson Gallery will be where We HeArt Bikes calls home.
“They’re a group of artists who’re trying to grow and create the art scene,” says Silverman. “So they’re like us and committed to making Reno a better place, a more vibrant community and culture. It’s a good fit for both organizations.”
The new space will also be more spacious, better accommodating the number of expected guests, which last year totaled approximately 300.
Up for auction
A new aspect this year is an auction. In years past, the art has simply been given a set price and placed up for sale, but artists will now have the chance to see a bit of bartering occur over their creations. While only select pieces will be going up for auction, most everything submitted will be up for grabs in some form. Silverman says about 95 percent of the art is for sale, with 50 percent of the earnings benefiting the Reno Bike Project.
“Proceeds will go to providing affordable bikes and bike maintenance to the community, as well as sustainable transportation advocacy and education,” says Silverman.
Some of the pieces to look forward to at this year’s We HeArt Bikes are designed by return participants. Artist Lyndsey Langsdale is going on her second year, and she says that part of the reason she’s choosing to submit her piece—a miniature pendant replicating a sweetheart chain ring made from pieces of a Schwinn bike—is that the show inspires her.
“I never make time for [art], and I like the show because it forces me to,” says Langsdale. “It’s the most fun art show I’ve ever been to—especially since art shows aren’t always fun and exciting. But the bike show’s always been a really good time.”
Another repeat artist will be Tim Conder, creator of last year’s entryway arch, which was assembled entirely out of the whole bikes themselves.
“This year, the piece is a lot smaller, but it will be an entryway thing again,” says Conder, careful not to give away the surprise. “And this time, it’s just the metal to the bikes.”
While his submission last year didn’t sell, Conder found a good use for it, helping out with an aspect that the RBP also holds dear to its heart—Burning Man. “We donated it to Yellow Bike Works. It’s a group out at Burning Man that operates a free bike shop during the event,” Conder says. And his plans for this year’s piece? “If somebody wanted to buy it, cool. If not, I’ll probably take it to my house and put it in the front yard.”
So even if you have to walk, hop, or take the bus to get there, if you turn out for this year’s We HeArt Bikes, you might have the option of purchasing a new set of wheels for the ride home.