The Whirlwind Affair

the 28 SRAM pART pieces used in my sculpture#21 – Tuesday August 9th

The SRAM pART Project has just been wild. Four short weeks ago I received my box of 100 SRAM bicycle parts and, slam bam . . . off to the races. The primary project parameters required I use at least 25 of the 100 parts supplied by SRAM. In addition, the SRAM parts could be manipulated in any way (a stipulation I took to heart), the SRAM parts could be combined with any other objects, as long as the piece was no larger than 24″ x 24″ x 24″, and the finished piece must weigh less than 80 pounds. Oh yes, the finished sculpture needed to be delivered by August 15th. (so in my case, considering shipping, today was that day) and it’s gone. I ended up using 28 of the SRAM parts, (see photo at top), my own bike parts, and a few other objects. I’ve included a list of those additional pieces at the end of this missive.

And here it is, my artistic whirlwind affair . . . Garden of My Secret Life (Bicycle dreams of a better world). Because of the pART Project framework, I’ve approached it more like a 100 piece puzzle . . . what ever it is, or will be, has already been determined, it’s just a matter of figuring out how the pieces fit back together. And that is a much different process from how I approach my painting. “Garden of My Secret Life” ? Much of the inspiration for my work is derived from adventures out-of-doors. I’m an amateur gardener with a fixation on succulents, and besides my mountain biking habits, I hike and backpack, spending as much of my time away as practical. As this piece developed, it reminded me of my southwestern desert . . . all pointy and prickly, pale greens bleeding into silver, punctuated by poignant bursts of color. “Bicycle Dreams”?  A homage to the ultimate purpose behind the project, supporting World Bicycle Relief.

In creating “The Garden”, I’ve strived to use as many bike parts as fit, but I’ve included non-bike elements which make the piece sing. First, the Eucalyptus tree branches. The tree branches complement and enhance the organic structure of the work.These branches are from one of the trees in our yard. (We have five different types of Eucalyptus). The hallmark of this particular type, is the lacy finger like structure of its branches, and I love how these branch segments reach out to seemingly embrace the environment surrounding the sculpture .

Second, the Flash card. The flash card is truly an exercise in serendipity. At one point I was including collage into my 3-dimensional works, and while on a walk not far from my house in Chicago, I found this home-made flash card in the street, and while I could go on and on about what interested me about this random piece of paper, basically I thought I might include it in one of my objects some day,  that was 17 years and three studio spaces ago.  Fast forward to now. From the beginning of the pART Project I thought of adding text in some form, I think mainly because the inclusion of stickers in the SRAM part selection, but as the piece developed, it seemed there really wasn’t space or a space for those. (or 72 other pieces for that matter). One of the last additions to my sculpture was a tall blue suspension part that I attached a clip to, and literally turned around, plucked this flash card  off my studio wall and clipped it in. The funny thing, I finally counted how many of the SRAM parts I’d used in the sculpture . . . total 28 . . . the flash card  . . . 4 x 7 = 28. I know that sounds a bit oddly coincidental . . .  However when I first attached the card, I wasn’t thinking about multiplication tables or numbers of parts, but rather thinking about  . . . bicycles . . . kids getting to school, products getting to market, people getting to jobs . . . the purpose behind the SRAM pART Project, and someone on the north side of Chicago hand writing math flash cards.

In October there will be an on-line auction of all 50 artists SRAM pART Project Sculptures in support of World Bicycle Relief. I’ll post all the details in my blog. If you have the inclination, please visit the World Bicycle Relief website.

My piece was constructed with the following objects:

28- SRAM bicycle parts, 15- White Nylon Washers, 2- Straight Pull spokes, 2- Red Anodized Spoke Nipples, 1- Derailluer Cable (although I burned through 6 before getting what I wanted!), 2- Eucalyptus Tree Branch Segments, 1- 2″ Wide Brass Ring, 1- Welded Steel Box, and more fun than the law should allow!

Thanks for reading.


Fast and Furious – SRAM pART Project continues

Detail of SRAM pArt project sculpture#18 – Tuesday July 19th

Fast and furious. By August 15th,  my contribution to the  SRAM pART Project will be finished and on its way to Oregon, where all 50 pART Project sculptures are being collected, prior to being shown at InterBike International Bicycle Expo (the major bicycle industry trade show). Besides the relatively quick turn-around, the other project parameters are; the piece must fit in a 24″ x  24″ x 24″ box, weigh less than 80 lbs, and use at least 25 of the 100 bicycle parts supplied by SRAM. Simple right . . . I’ve never been known to be a fast painter, my usual creative methodology includes a healthy amount of time willingly spent studying marks made and in preparation of marks to be made, and often after such contemplation, remove as much or more than I add. So at this point, I’ve got about three weeks to tidy up, so fast and furious indeed. The size and weight restrictions, aren’t an issue for me . . . but 25 parts? I consider myself a  bit of a minimalist and at this point I’ve used 11, and I’m starting to wonder how I’ll integrate 14 more of these beautifully anodized bike bits into this sculpture. But actually, the 25 part requirement is becoming one of the really entertaining components of the project, taking these wonderfully exotic objects and literally cutting before and after cutting and hammering the cog into submissionand pounding them into the language of my personal aesthetic. Speaking of aesthetics, when it comes to my bikes, I like them on the industrial looking side, with a nice complement of shinier bits. But in my artistic endeavors, it’s an active history I want to see, with all the cuts, scratches, and bruises, false starts, detours, and rough landings included. And my pART sculpture is starting to get there . . . so in keeping with this weeks theme and borrowing from bicycle race vocabulary . . . the stage in its final 10 kilometers, and I’m setting up for the sprint, pushing a big gear . . . pedal man pedal!

Thanks for reading.


List of parts currently in use: 2 front suspension stanchions, 4 cogs, 1 44-tooth chain ring, 1 bottom bracket spindle, 1 red anodized part ( suspension part?), 1 gold anodized part (suspension part?), 1 ratchet type gear ( a shifter part?)

Hacksaw to perfection

#17 – Tuesday July 12th

The pART project is on. To review the parameters of the project, 50 artists will be making sculptures out of bike parts supplied by SRAM. These sculptures will be auctioned off with the proceeds going to support the programs of World Bicycle Relief. My parts arrived last week and to me, in their anodized glory, they are amazing . . . more jewelry than pieces of bicycles.  To say I’m attracted to bikes is a bit of an understatement. Yes I do love to ride, but I also love the bike as a machine and riding and wrenching on my bikes is a little slice of perfection. So here I have a box of Boxxer stanchion tubes cutperfect parts, but when it comes to my own object making, my  aesthetic leans toward what has been used. I want to see and feel the history of that use and abuse, and I almost wish I had the opportunity to install these parts on one of my bikes, ride them, beat and bash them. . . and in that sense demystify them. Just to clarify, I’m a dyed in the wool mountain biker and riding on dirt is just hard on bikes, and the first dent or scratch in a new bike is like an arrow to the heart . . . but then it’s . . . thank God that’s over, now I can just go ride. So the first Boxxer stanchion tube cut and re-assembledthing I did was hack one of these big Boxxer front suspension stanchions apart, and now the real fun begins . . . my pART project ride. Yahoo!

Art, bikes, and dogs, and that dog is our Molly Teardrop. Miss Molly turns 6 months old this week, which is a bit of a canine milestone, and Molly doesn’t disappoint. Yes, at some point in every day she runs around like her brain is on fire, but mostly she behaves like she’s more mature than her young age might suggest, for which we are ever thankful. So to celebrate her 1/2 year birthday, a photo of Molly on our hike this morning, sitting on the biggest rock on the trail. (Molly likes to be up high!)

Bits and pieces. Where does it all start? The inspiration for this canvas came from simply looking up through the trees, mid-morning light streaming through, and thinking of swimming in green . . . then diving in.

Thanks for reading.