18th Chicago Bike Winter Art Show Opens Friday

Steven Smock. "Dura Ace." Oil on canvas. (Shanley Chien/Medill)

By Shanley Chien

Bike and art lovers rejoice! The 18th Annual Chicago Bike Winter Art Show opens Friday with a public reception at Genesis Art Supply.

Members of the Rat Patrol Bike Club, a pro-bike and anti-consumerism organization, uses recycled parts and scrap metal to hand-weld unique bikes.  The club showcases some of their offbeat creations that are guaranteed to entertain, such as their “tall bikes,” choppers, and the “can crusher,” an inventive mechanical apparatus composed of interconnected bike pieces that crushes cans as you pedal.

Stuart Hall, one of the event’s curators, rides the “Can Crusher” created by the Rat Patrol Bike Club. (Shanley Chien/Medill)

Catch works by local artists such as Jeff Williams,  featured in Bicycle Times Magazine. His Tour de France-inspired  painting  captures the dynamism and movement of cycling races and a spiritual piece depicts a bicycle in front of the Temple of the Emerald Buddha in Thailand, titled “Wat Phra.”

The art show runs through Feb. 27 and the closing ceremony is a can’t-miss event, with a “family-oriented” strip tease to demonstrate the different layers cyclists should wear to stay warm during their winter rides, Hall said. A dance party and an appearance by the Chicago Critical Mass, a large monthly assembly of local cyclists who ride through the city’s streets, will also be featured for the finale.

The mission of the art show is to encourage people to ride their bikes year-round and to promote the use of environmentally friendly, human-powered vehicles as an alternative to gas engine cars.

“The bicycle community is pretty diverse and creative,” said Stuart Hall, one of the event’s curators. “You find a lot of people who ride their bikes and make art out of [their love for] biking.”

This year, the month-long event will be held in the 3,000-square-foot gallery space at the new Genesis facility and will feature approximately 150 curated pieces of art from both local and national artists.

“[The event] is all about community and that’s why we’re really happy to partner with [Genesis] because the whole back space is dedicated to exhibition and community enrichment, so it was just a perfect fit,” Hall said.

Genesis’ new location on North Elston Avenue allowed them to expand their “art temple” to provide the community with a larger space for their spiritual and creative experiences, said Sondra Nicole, event and marketing director at Genesis.

“The point of going into this larger space is to support our artists, to be able to do events like [the Chicago Bike Art Show] that support the art community, bring awareness to good causes, bring people together, and really give artists a platform to show their stuff,” Nicole said.

Attendees will have the opportunity to see the artists express their love of bike riding in a variety of art forms, including bike-inspired oil paintings, sculptures, installations, film shorts and fashion.

According to Hall, the bike art show is expected to attract about 800 attendees throughout the entirety of the event.

The Chicago Bike Winter Art Show and Genesis Art Supply are located at 2525 N. Elston Ave. in Bucktown from Feb. 6 through Feb. 27. Admission is free.

Photo at top: Steven Smock. “Dura Ace.” Oil on canvas (Shanley Chien/Medill)