Bike pARTS, Art in City Hall, Philadelphia

Eric Mozes and Donnell Powell, Bike pARTs, Art in City Hall

Bike pARTs, Art in City Hall, Philadelphia

“To complement Artist-design Bike Racks, artists from the region were invited to submit art that utilizes bicycle parts, exploring themes of sustainability, health and the urban environment. Bike pARTs features the work of 11 local artists: Regina Kelly Barthmaier, Robert Barabos, Charlize Katzenbach, Jenny Lynn, Gerry Marron, Eric Mozes and Donnell Powell of Color My Sidewalk, Elicia “Eel-Eye” Avenue, Scott White, Kendal Wilkins and Raphael Xavier.” – Art in City Hall

Philadelphia City Hall has an art gallery on the first floor called The Art Gallery at City Hall. The Bike Rack show presented in the gallery explores designs for bike racks presented by the The Bicycle Coalition of Philadelphia . The art show Bike pARTs is in the glass cases on the upper floors of City Hall. The title of the show says it all; art made from bike parts. The theme is very Philadelphia, from the art reference of DuChamps bicycle art to the exploration of human powered transportation in urban America. Philadelphia has inspired many artists working with bikes for bricolage, found art and conceptual art but also the cultural tradition of reusing, re-purpasing and upcycling. Bike skeletons hanging from street signs are ubiquitous in Philadelphia, the concept of pairing a utilitarian design problem like bike racks with a dreamy escape of animorphic objet trouve´in the Bike pARTs show elevates the theme from people moving to moving people. The art is fantastic, the committee at Art in City Hall cleverly wove in a narrative that bikes are fun and scary, art is fun and scary and both are important social issues.

Regina Barthmaier, Bike pARTS, Art in City Hall, Philadelphia

Regina Barthmaier, Likes to Bike, mixed media found object sculpture,  Bike pARTsArt in City Hall, Philadelphia

Regina Barthmaier finds stuff on the street and turns out art. Her award winning designs are usually concocted in her back yard where the found materials meld into a shape that pleases her and thoughtfully communicates through visual cues. The fake flowers gild the lily but Likes to Bikes has a retro-futuristic vibe like a Dr.Who Dalek with a plan. Barthmaier’s discerning eye up-cycles found materials into sculpture with metropolitan wit and imaginative bricolage .

Eric Mozes and Donnell Powell, Bike pARTS, Art in City Hall

Elicia “Eel-Eye” Avenue, Vegan Trophy, bicycle scrap, Bike pARTsArt in City Hall

“Eli is a staunch advocate for the environment, which is why she loves: vegetariarism & veganism; reusing & repurposing old parts; dumpster diving; riding bikes & not owning a car; and Bike Church.

(All proceeds go to Neighborhood Bike Works youth programs & Bike Church Co-op)
Professor Eel-Eye Avenue
Universe University, School of Dada
Department of Cognitive Architecture & Psychogeography
Text Eli at 206-228-8602 to purchase.”

At the opening reception I overheard a comment that the bicycle seat had also been done by Picasso, so I looked it up. Elicia “Eel-Eye” Avenue, Vegan Trophy is very similar to Pablo Picasso’s, Bull’s Head from 1943 but the similarities are only in materials, the anthropomorphism isn’t the same. Vegan Trophy puts a face on it, and in a Dada language, speaks about the challenge of bikers in the city. Like a running of the bulls, bikers are still dueling like matadors for riding space in the bike lanes while car drivers get road rage over lost lanes. It is like a Picasso bullfight with a Duchamp-like urban anthromorphic simplicity.

Elicia "Eel-Eye" Avenue, Bike pARTS, Art in City Hall

Elicia “Eel-Eye” Avenue, Jellyfish Takeover, bicycle scrap, Bike pARTsArt in City Hall

There are a whole bunch of these creating a much larger sculpture but the little jellyfish are each exquisite in their own twisted way. The tension of the twisted wire exudes energy, the materials would normally be engineering elements but here are re-arranged into anomalies of travel and movement through a space/time continuum. Self powered transportation is an essential yet inscrutable concept ripe with potential for discovery.

Charlize Katzenbach, Bike pARTS, Art in City Hall

Charlize KatzenbachBike With Painted WheelsBike pARTsArt in City Hall

Charlize Katzenbach
Bike With Painted Wheels
Oil on glass and wheel * modified bike frame

I have recently been working with glass and oil paints. I have explored geometry in an abstract way since high school. I have often layered a circular grid over a rectangular grid, expressing some of each in the finished work. This allows the eye to move from grid to grid and creates a tension and vibration between them. Many of these pieces also contain a central focus. I use this to focus my thoughts and also to draw the viewer into the piece. This is a practice used in meditation work, as in the yantras and mantras of the Hindu and Buddhist traditions. My recent work on glass has allowed me to work on various layers. This increases the geometric reality of the piece with the space between the shapes playing a distinctive part of the whole. The interplay between the layers as well as the use of mirrors in some pieces creates an increased visual play.”

Charlize Katzenbach’s Bike with Painted Wheels is like a magical mystery that restores the bike parts to a reality filled with happy trails. The wheels already have the illusion of movement swirled into the patterns, yet the question of, ‘Can I ride it?’ pops up. I want my bike to look like that. The entire show explores the fun, fanciful and magical elements that go into making bicycles and fulfilling the goals of self powered transportation.

Read the Scott White interview about his Cynwyd Recumbent Tricycle on DoNArTNeWs.

The Art in City Hall photo album on facebook has some great documentation about the show.

The Bicycle Coalition of Philadelphia 

Like The Bicycle Coalition of Philadelphia on facebook

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Written and photographed by DoN Brewer except where noted.

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