Opening Night at Biketastic: a Virtual Tour

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Biketastic, an art show and benefit not to be missed, made over $1,200 for Bikes for the World on opening night.  Exploding onto the green scene, Biketastic was praised whole heartedly by all who attended.  Whether they were casual or enthusiastic cyclists, attendees left with a deeper appreciation of cycling culture and the good it can, and does do  for individuals world wide. More than likely, they also left by the W&OD trail, just yards away from the evening’s host, the Soundry.  Attending organizations, whether they operated on a local or international level, agreed it offered exciting and unique networking opportunities, as well as a smashing good time.

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If you did miss it, fear not, The Amplifier is here to walk you through the evening.

Let’s Begin at the beginning.  As we walk in, this fascinating creature appears:

The Saddle Sores and their Tall Tandem

The Saddle Sores and their Tall Tandem

Brainchild of the  Richmond bicycle club the Saddle Sores, the Tall Tandem (above) is fully rideable even for those of normal height.  Made from other cannibalized bikes, the Tall Tandem is seen here with  Saddle Sore members Richard, Julia, and Mike.  Check out the Saddle Sores blog at saddlesores.wordpress.com for more adventures, like the peddle powered aqua battle or the Mathlete’s Revenge race.

As it gets darker, we progress to the cafe area, where we find Sarah Colby’s “Transparent Trikes” and “Mixed Messages”, modern charcoal and ink pieces, one of which has a feeling almost like stained glass in black and white.  While we’re here, try a basil lemon fizz, a bubbly lemonade drink with fresh crushed basil.  Too crowded?  Let’s move on.

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Here’s the studio space.  Usually inhabited by artists at work, it has been converted this evening into a convention hall for the participating organizations and donors.  The first table to our left is the Cycle Savant table, staffed by founder Matt Rupert.  Matt got his first bike soon after he learned to walk.  He’s grown up to start his own business, which helps patrons choose a bike from a selection personalized according to the specific needs of the customer.

His favorite piece at the show is “Chimptastic” By Bobby Moore;

"Chimptastic" by Bobby Moore

"Chimptastic" by Bobby Moore

I asked Matt, and every representative I could get my hands on what they would have submitted to the show– no budget restrictions, no time limits.  Matt says he’d like to make a glass topped, 40′s style dining room table with the large wheel of a penny farthing bicycle.  To learn more about Cycle Savant, see the web page at CycleSavant.com.

Next door is the Sierra Club table, where I talked to Linda Friemark about the dangers of coal ash, a hazardous byproduct of burning coal.  For information on coal ash problems in Virginia, please click here.  Linda helped start Bikes for the World while she was on the board of the Washington Area Bicycle Association.  “Tonight was coming full circle for me,” she says. Currently,  Linda works with the local Great Falls Sierra Club group which has approximately 3500 members.  This month’s meeting will take place right in Vienna, at the Patrick Henry Library on August 24th, from 7pm to 9pm, and is open to the public.

Next, the co-organizer and non-profit beneficiary of the evening, BIKES FOR THE WORLD! Collecting bicycles and shipping them to community development programs in developing countries, Bikes for the World (BfW) is the largest bicycle reuse program in the U.S.  Got two minutes? Watch this video about them on Youtube.  Three minutes? Take one more to make a donation.

Yvette with her bicycle tube purse

Yvette with her bicycle tube purse

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Yvette's Bicycle wheel chandalier

Manning the BfW booth are Yvette and Craig.

I asked Yvette what she would have liked to submit to the Biketastic show– as it turned out, she was already spoiled for choice, owning two home made bicycle wheel tables, a bicycle part chandelier, even sporting her bike tube and chain purse and a pendant made from blue glass and a twisted spoke.  Craig and I talked briefly about his favorite Bikes for the World partner program, the Women Prisoners Support Program in Uganda, which fixes up, uses, and sells bikes as well as teaching job training and IT skills.   Craig hasn’t even been to the gallery yet; the constant networking in the studio space has proven too absorbing.

Across the way is the man who wins the most interesting hypothetical artwork prize, James Moon; a blogger, a tweeter,  and tonight a representative of Phoenix Bikes.  “Building Young Leaders and Sweet Bikes”, Phoenix Bikes is a youth and community bike shop with earn-a-bike youth programs, team Phoenix youth rides, used bike sales, and tune-up and repair services.  James’ theoretical submission? A slide show of animated scenes– of bikes, of course– from old cartoons, projected on a sculpture.

Sharing the table is Christie Kruse of the GMU Bike Village program, who also describes a fascinating project; a wooden bicycle with two wheels made of cedar and a frame of birch sticks, held together with raffia. The GMU Bike Village collects bikes, fixes bikes in need,  and rents bikes to the GMU community.  Their Facebook group can be found here.  Christie was excited to see Soundry member Kate Smith-Morse’s bamboo bike frame in progress– take a look;

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Kate Smith-Morse and her bamboo bike

See that guy on the right?  That’s Jesse, a Soundry regular who does Bicycle tune-ups for L.L. Bean.  LL. Bean was kind enough to donate a bicycle overhaul (a tune up, cleaning, bearing service, & new cables) to the silent auction.  Tune in to future blogs for more on Kate’s bike as it progresses.

Last, in case you got hungry between the cafe and the gallery, is the Great Harvest Bread Company‘s free sample table.  Great Harvest Bread Co. is also a silent auction donor, putting up a free loaf of bread every month for a year.  Currently, Peter of Bikes for the World is manning the table.  Peter has done some photography, and thinks if he had submitted a piece to the show, it would have been a photograph.

Last stop, the in-show Dr. Sketchy’s anti-art school.

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Laurel Larsen (center) poses at the in-show Dr. Sketchy's Anti-Art school session

Offering highly unusual life drawing classes in 80 cities and 4 continents around the world, Dr. Sketchy’s classes at The Soundry have featured a belly dancer, a drag king, and a burlesque dancer.  Now, taking a sportier turn, The lovely Laurel Larsen of the Syn-fit biking team is seen here posing on a bike.  At the next Dr. Sketchy’s, on August 13th from  8 to 11pm. The D.C. roller girls of the Cherry Blossom Bombshell team will be modeling.  Right now though, let’s talk to Laurel.  We’ll only get one chance– it’s her last break before the show ends at 11.  She is fascinated by cyclocross,   a racing sport that takes place on short mixed terrain tracks which include obstacles that force the cyclists to dismount from their bikes and carry them.  Laurel is particularly intrigued by the the graceful and sometimes comedic way in which cyclocross pros mount and dismount.  So much so that if she were to submit a piece to the show, she thinks she would choose to make a video focusing specifically on this aspect of the sport.  For a closer look at cyclocross culture, click here.

By now it’s pushing 11 o’clock, and the show is wrapping up.  The silent auction winners are announced, the representatives start packing up, and Laurel and the rest of the Dr. Sketchy’s models unfreeze from their last pose and go home. Grab one more coffee, guys– you don’t have to go home but you can’t stay here, if only to have mercy on Antoine McGrath, the exhausted organizer of Biketastic.  You may have seen him racing around all of the places we’ve visited tonight, facilitating networking between the different groups, chatting with customers, checking the progress of the silent auction, and even pouring glasses of wine.  Asked, “Where were you tonight?  I just saw you dashing by a lot” he pauses to flash a dazed look and respond “…I don’t know.”.  He runs off again, to who knows where.  We start taking bets on when he will collapse.

So why are you still here? The art’s not going anywhere, and the bike film festival won’t be for another two weeks.

Thanks for a lovely evening, Reader.  We’ll see you again soon, in person at The Soundry, or right here on the Amplifier.

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Goodnight!