May 14th, 2012

Bikes and Art have an illustrious history and intersection. The bike itself is such an elegant and iconic form that lends itself so well to abstraction and play. When the two collide magical things can happen. From the colorful lithography posters of the late nineteenth century to conceptual installations of the twenty-first century the bicycle has been an instrument for artistic freedom. Iconic artists, like Marcel Duchamp, have used bicycle parts for sculpture. Picasso constructed Bull’s Head (1942) from the handlebars and seat of a bicycle. Forever Bicycles (2003-present) by artist Ai Wei Wei uses the bike form to create labyrinth-like installations that comment on China’s shifting social environment. In 2011 the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) asked artists to tailor products into symbols of art – Damien Hirst came back with a voluptuously painted bicycle called Psychedelic Spin Hollander (2011).

Marcel Duchamp, Bicycle Wheel, 1913

Donald Mitchell, Untitled, 2012

Klari Reis, Pedestal Bike, 2012

Cyrus Tilton, Fossil Fuel, 2012

Ken Kalman, Chariot of Fire, 2012

We have some modest examples of our own. This year we have collaborated with several artists and community groups to use bikes as a springboard for artistic expression. These range from simple expressive painting on a bike frame as with artist Donald Mitchell that was auctioned off to support Creative Growth, to several radical artistic of bikes for the San Francisco Art Fair (opens this weekend in SF).

ArtBikes at San Francisco Fine Art Fair

The third annual San Francisco Fine Art Fair takes place May 16-20, 2012, at Fort Mason’s Festival Pavilion. Proceeds from the sale of the art bikes benefit the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition.

The unveiling of the ArtBikes Auction signals the start of festivities for the San Francisco Fine Art Fair on May 16 at 7:30 pm. 7 renowned artists and sculptors convert seven PUBLIC  bikes into unique works of art. ArtBikes brings awareness to cycling as a healthy and efficient form of transportation. The bikes will be unveiled on opening night May 16th by members of Verasphere’s drag queens led by David Faulk and Michael Johnstone.

ArtBike participating artists include Ken Kalman (George Krevsky Gallery, San Francisco); Gino Miles (Ten472 Contemporary Art, Nevada City); Michael Osborne (Hamamjian Modern, San Francisco); Gustavo Ramos Rivera collaborating with Kathryn Kain (Westbrook Gallery, Carmel); Klari Reis (Cynthia Corbett Gallery, UK); Moe Thomas (McLoughlin Gallery, San Francisco); and Cyrus Tilton (Vessel Gallery, Oakland).

Klari Reis’s “Pedestal Bike”, featured above, embeds a deconstructed bike in a colorful multi-layer pedestal. By displaying the manufactured object as art, Reis takes an approach that directly plays with the definition of the exhibition.

Cyrus Tilton’s “Fossil Fuel”, also featured above, applies the artist’s interests in anatomy and natural history to the multiple forms found in the bicycle. “I see many similarities between the anatomy of a bicycle and that of an animal,” says Tilton, who was born and raised in the Alaskan wilderness northeast of Anchorage.

Ken Kalman’s winged “Chariot of Fire,” featured above, refers to mythological messenger gods (Hermes, Mercury, the Thunderbird, and Ezekiel), who “rode like the wind.”

Read on for more info on ArtBike. A lot can be said about these pieces and their meaning. But the images speak for themselves. Check out the show if you are in SF. And we’re always loking to partner with other arts groups, so let us know if you have a similar opportunity.


We are looking for volunteers to work an 8-hour shift from 11am-7pm on May 17, 18, and 19. Volunteers will receive a $200 voucher off a 2011 PUBLIC bike, plus a One-Day Pass into SF Fine Art Fair. Please contact if interested in volunteering.