What: "Bike Art at The Dairy!"
When: Opening nights are 4-6:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 5, and Friday, Dec. 6. Exhibit runs through Jan. 17.
Where: The Dairy Center for the Arts, 2590 Walnut St., Boulder, in the MacMillan Family Lobby
Cost: Free, but reserve a ticket in advance because the event is expected to sell out
Info: thedairy.org, 303-444-7328
Other bike events at the Dairy
Dec. 6-12: "Rising From Ashes," a feature-length documentary about cycling legend Jock Boyer moving to Rwanda; times vary; tickets $6-9
Dec. 13-21: "Wadjda," a film about a Saudi girl who is trying to raise money to buy a bicycle; times vary; tickets $6-9. This film is the first feature film made by a female Saudi filmmaker
Dec. 20-22: "Bicycle Men," a musical comedy about an American cyclist who encounters curious people in a small French village while he waits for his bike to be repaired; 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday; tickets $24-$26
Jan. 12: Day to Honor Bike Nonprofit Organizations, featuring presentations by N55 from Copenhagen, Denmark; noon-7 p.m.; free
Jan. 9: "Bike Art at The Dairy!" VIP night, including cocktails, speakers and a screening of "Rising From Ashes;" 6-9 p.m.; $35
One of the reasons Mitch Levin moved to Boulder from Chicago was his love for bicycles.
That very love has become his artistic inspiration, too.
Levin, who has a background in architecture and sculpture, often rides his bike to work, where he shares studio space with another artist who makes custom bikes. A friend of Levin's got married and decorated the wedding with hundreds of bike gears discarded from a local cycle shop. After the wedding, she asked Levin if he wanted them.
"I tend to look at things a little differently," Levin says. "I try to take things out of their context and look at them visually and wonder how else could they be used."
And this is how art is born in Boulder.
He began painting the different-sized gears. Connecting them to a wheel. He hung them with bike spokes. And he had created his first bicycle-part chandelier.
Levin's art is among dozens of bike-themed creations that will be on exhibit at The Dairy Center for the Arts in Boulder, as part of show, "Bike Art at The Dairy!", starting Thursday. The exhibit will run through Jan. 17 to complement the USA Cycling Cyclo-cross National Championships in Boulder Jan. 8-12.
In addition to the visual art, The Dairy plans a variety of other kinds of cycle-tastic activities. The feature-length documentary about cycling legend Jock Boyer, "Rising from Ashes," runs Dec. 6-12. Another movie, "Wadjda," about a Saudi girl who raises money to buy a bicycle, will screen Dec. 13-21.
The Dairy has even booked the musical comedy, "Bicycle Men," for Dec. 20-22.
On Jan. 12, the center has organized a day to honor bike nonprofits, featuring N55 from Copenhagen, Denmark, which is making headlines for using the bicycle to solve urban problems.
The Dairy's bike art show last year attracted almost 20,000 people -- an overwhelming response that organizers didn't anticipate.
Although the exhibit is free, this year the Dairy has scheduled opening night ontwo separate days and is requesting people pick up tickets in advance, to help control the crowd.
"We're an athletic town, a bicycling town," says Mary Horrocks, curator of visual art and education at The Dairy. "There's such enthusiasm on the part of amateur riders, and the folks to bicycle out of environmental concerns, and then the pro-cycling connection here, and the athletes who train and live here. We have a great bicycle consciousness. And for other people, it's a curiosity factor; 'Bike art? What in the world is that?' "
This year's exhibit features 125 pieces, selected from nearly 500 entries across 27 states. The art spans bicycle-inspired sculptures, stained glass, photography, home decor, weaving, jewelry and more.
Horrocks says the quality of art this year is even higher than last year. The Dairy will crown winners during the opening nights and hand out $5,000 in cash prizes.
One of the notable artists is Richard Whitehill, from Virginia, who makes steel kinetic sculptures whose rotating components move on recycled bicycle bearings. For 15 years, Whitehill has retrieved old bikes from a local landfill, cut them apart and used their pieces to make his dramatic outdoor sculptures.
Whitehill's background is in orthopedic surgery, but he has been building sculptures for about 25 years.
Brian Echerer is another out-of-state artist featured in the show. Echerer, of Oregon, is an avid cyclist and artist.
"Everything I do is cycling-related," he says.
He started making cowbells decorated with stenciled bike-part patterns, then expanded to paintings exclusively using bike parts and stenciling. He also has created spoke jewelry and built frames out of bike rims.
His piece on exhibit in Boulder is a fusion of stained glass and welding.
"Portland is a huge center for cycling," Echerer says. "Because that's all I do and all I think about, my art is continually evolving."