What: Bike art at the Dairy
When: Opens 4 to 7 p.m. Friday, continues through month
Where: Dairy Center for the Arts, 2590 Walnut Street
More info: thedairy.org/bikeart
Every once in a while, artist Barry Snyder, of Erie, takes his replica high-wheel bike — the old-fashioned sort, with a huge front wheel — out for a spin in town.
“They just make people smile,” Snyder said.
“I used to pedal into Boulder on one when I lived in Lafayette on a regular basis,” he said. “I did a 50-mile charity ride on one.”
Snyder’s bike enthusiasm goes beyond the high-wheel bike — he’s worked for the Coors Classic, the cycling races in the Atlanta Olympics, and he’s followed the length of the Mississippi River on a bike. But the high-wheeled bike is the one that inspired his two pieces — images of bikes made of produce stickers — that will be on the walls of the Dairy Center for the Arts during this month’s bike art show, which opens Friday.
“I’ve always believed in bicycles, so it’s neat to be involved in something I believe in,” Snyder said.
The Dairy has been interested in a bike art show for years, said curator Mary Horrocks. But with the USA Pro Cycling Challenge coming through Boulder in August, it seemed like the perfect year to finally put together an exhibit.
The show includes work by professionals and amateur artists who are inspired by bicycles, Horrocks said. While staging work for the show last week, Snyder’s sticker-art pieces lay framed on the floor along with paintings and photographs, including one of Lance Armstrong riding in the Tour de France. Local fiber artist Julie Ireland had three bike helmets on a table — one was a fabric beehive, another, a peacock. From the far side of the room, Horrocks picked up “1,000 White Bikes,” an abstract painting by Ed Houston that was inspired by Amsterdam’s public bike program, for closer inspection.
At the heart of the show is “just passion for bicycles and cycling, and of all kinds of bicycle activity, from people who are passionate about bicycles as alternative transportation and just love their bikes to people who are serious about cycling and racing and competitive bicycle culture,” Horrocks said.
“Our visual art exhibit is at the core of this, but we have three weeks of complete immersion into bicycle culture,” she added.
The Dairy will show two films, “Freedom Riders” and “Bicycle Dreams,” during the bike art show and put on other events, like a bike clinic with Boulder Cycle Sport.
“We’re really willing to bet that no one else has gone to these kind of extremes to put on such a saturated event for the community,” Horrocks said.
Also, this week, artist Evan Colbert is creating a bike-inspired mural on the exterior wall of the Dairy that faces onto 26th Street.
Colbert said the mural puts his style on top of bikes. On the wall, he’ll paint two impish characters with Warhol-esque Marilyn Monroe heads atop a tandem bicycle. They’re holding up another bicycle, ridden by Jack Kerouac.
“Jack Kerouac is holding his hand out, and on his hand is the wheel of the unicycle, and riding the unicycle is Sid Vicious,” Colbert said. “It’s basically his head stuck on the body of an old unicycle-y dude.”
Colbert hopes to finish the mural by opening night, on Friday.
The show’s opening will include a expo of local nonprofits, like Community Cycles, the International Mountain Bicycling Association and the US Cycling Monument, which plans to build a sculpture by local artist Kimmerjae Johnson in North Boulder Park, frequent site of the finish of the Red Zinger and then Coors Classic bicycle races in the 1970s and ‘80s. Johnson lived off the park when the races finished there.
“We’re very excited to be part of the show,” Johnson said. “We’ve been mainly focusing on the cycling community, but it is very much a work of art and offers some expression for that part of the community as well — a bridge between those two parts of Boulder’s personality.”
Johnson built a model of the sculpture that will be on display for the duration of the show, and at the opening, supporters of the monument will be seeking donors. She said they’re trying to raise funds quickly to build the sculpture before the USA Pro Cycling Challenge rolls into Boulder.
“Cycling is a big part of this community,” Johnson said. “I personally am not a crazy cyclist, I’m an artist. This whole thing got started because I unsuspectingly walked out my front door one day into this race. The community energy about it was particularly inspiring to me, and the brilliance of this extreme human endeavor is palpable. It calls to this energy inside of you that says, ‘go go go!’”