Rolling Canvas Art Collective

So about a month ago in San Francisco, Cinelli hosted an art show in collaboration with RVCA, a clothing maker. The title of this collaboration was "Pressure," for which a group of notable artists (including Barry McGee, Clare Rojas, Dan Murphy & others) used Cinelli SuperCorsa Pista frames and components as their canvases. This resulted in a number of finished pieces, pairing the bicycle with various medium, which used the bicycle as powerhouse, as recreation and even, as loom. The Barry McGee bike, cream and chrome and adorned with his illustrations in red, will actually go into production.

The landmark show attracted droves of patrons on opening night, perhaps attracted by the curators' promise to "[bring] together visual urban artists working in the modalities of track bike and messenger culture."

This Friday in Philadelphia, something along those lines is happening. Fuji, in collaboration with Jinxed Philadelphia and R.E.Load, presents The Rolling Canvas Collective. Again, a party of locally revered artists will receive Fuji Track Bikes to do with them what they wish. And to bolster the challenge, several artists will also be making gallery quality messenger bags in the tradition of past Seamrippers shows. Together the event will be an auction, with a portion of proceeds to benefit the Neighborhood Bike Works. Like the Cinelli event, they advertise "created to celebrate the union of the art and urban bicycle cultures, the Rolling Canvas Art Collective will highlight and encourage the use of bicycles as a means of artistic expression. These twenty-plus artists will recreate basic, fixed gear bicycles into one-of-a-kind representations of their creative methods ranging from sculpture and metal work, to street art and paint."

Carrie is one of the featured artists, she's contributing a bike and a bag to this show. I've heard rumors of other contributions, but I don't plan on spoiling it for you here. Show opens this Friday, Aug. 1 at 7pm at the Media Bureau Gallery, 4th & Brown Street in Philadelphia.

**Also, a sweet show opens friday at Copy Gallery, the neighbor space to our studio, featuring the work of our friends Damian & Isaac & Becky. Photos and drawings and paintings. I don't have more info than that, you'll just have to trust me on this one.


Nice Rack

And I'm not talking ta-ta's, silly! Bike Racks seem to sprout in new places every day around here, however slowly and long in the coming they may be about it. I noticed recently on the Philly Bike Coalition blog a permanent link with FAQs on how to get a bike rack in place for anywhere in Philadelphia. So say you're a business with a bike loving clientele and say you can't claim ample bike parking in front of said business and say you're not sure how to make it easier for people to patronize your establishment? Well, now they've told you.

Airago, Combination Bike Pump & Rack

Swiss Designed Bike Rack

Functional in Philadelphia

The BCGP blog is really a great resource for all sorts of things, they are always up to date with the latest bicycle related media hubbub, accident reports, local cyclist know-how and what-have-you. Just now I read a brand new post about a call for metalworkers to design a functional bike rack for the Philadelphia Center for Architecture at 12th and Arch. Strap on those thinking caps welders!


New Tricks

You may not believe this, but until yesterday i didn't have a superhero. I'm terrible at making color decisions and decisions in general, but finally, finally, I came up with something for me:

It's a little plain jane, but that's sort of how I am. And I did add this totally fancy gingham to the inside. And we've been putting these little snaps on a few belts here and there and we sort of like it on the open pocket.

And since one snap deserves another, I put some on my u-lock holder as well, allowing for the possibility of additional tool storage. It worked out splendidly.

So far no stitcher's remorse.


This Weekend I Rode My Bike To Brooklyn

From Chinatown in New York City, but still! It seemed very adventurous at the time and I feel not a little proud of myself for doing it. After a little help finding the Manhattan bridge path from a very nice boy on the chinatown bus also with his bike, I got to my friend Adin's house in Park Slope in forty three minutes. And I made it back on Monday morning in even less! Here is a photo just to prove it:

I'm sort of a tough guy about riding in all kinds of weather in Philadelphia, I've gotten into my share of cursing matches with motorists, and I hoof it across our great bridges back to West Philly every night, but something about biking in New York City has always made me nervous. Well kids, this fear is hereby faced. If you've ever been a chicken like me, I encourage you to try it. Taking your bike on the bus is totally free. And once you're in New York, two wheels is way faster than the subway.

I also managed to catch a glimpse of this public art piece that I'd heard about a while back. While I maintain that the concept of building waterfalls on the East River is a bit frivolous, I'll admit that in person, they are a little breathtaking.


Carfree, The Way to Be

Sometimes it's really a shame that teleporting is not yet a reality. Sometimes, I really wish that jetsetting weren't just an annoying habit of the inordinately wealthy and actually something you could do by say, clicking your heels and wishing. Because sometimes small timers can't really get there when the getting is expensive and the there is far away.

Have I lost you yet? Are you still there? Ahoy! I'm talking about the Towards Carfree Cities conference in PDX a couple weeks ago and how I didn't get to go because I live over here in Philadelphia, directly on the opposite side of the universe, and I'm bummed now that I've gotten a glimpse of the festivities. The website for TCC sports a mission statement that reads thus:
This year’s Towards Carfree Cities conference theme is intended to promote discussion of urban livability, mixed-use development, local agriculture, pedestrianization, strong neighborhoods, accessible public space, and sustainable transportation. The conference program unites diverse interests, from city planners to developers to environmental activists to transportation service providers, around the common goal of reducing communities’ dependence on automobiles.

It seems like representatives of just about everything relevant in urban theory teamed up to talk about carfree living over several days and I didn't even know about it. Boo.

Lucky for us, there is a nice guy named Jon who runs a little podcast out of San Francisco. Usually he only publishes a podcast once a month but in light of his attendance of the aforementioned CarFree conference in Portland, he's been putting up several of the sessions he attended, unabridged! So far I've listened to a discussion about the bike movement in San Francisco entitled "The Battle For San Francisco" including panelists Chris Carlsson, author of Critical Mass: Bicycling’s Defiant Celebration, Dave Snyder of San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association, the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition's Leah Shahum, and CSU professor Jason Henderson. Their session follows SF's biking timeline from the origins of Critical Mass through the success of the SFBC today, highlighting the power of strong membership, the politics of urban mobility and the struggle to influence urban land use. They even touch on the issue of Congestion Pricing, an urban planning idea that has been proposed for the bay area and is already in place in London, which I am eager to know more about.

Just perusing the program schedule, I would have been psyched to see almost every panel offered. And some of the programs are available as slideshows here. Even simply seeing these ideas as topics of discussion renews my excitement for and commitment to the dream of the carfree city. And central to this conference, and the ideas circling through it, is the notion of a united carfree movement. That is--public transit, pedestrian and cyclist routes working threefold to reduce the use of automobiles in urban areas. A crucial detail they stress is that Carfree does not seek to totally eliminate the use of the automobile. Rather, by strengthening alternative means of transit, they hope to reach a more sustainable balance wherein cars are used when they need to be used in a way that is more deliberate and less default. So thanks to Jon for getting this information all the way over here to my ears. In a way, it is a lot like teleporting, only real.



Thursday night I caught the opening of an exhibit at the Lisa M. Reisman Gallery called Velo + City: The Social History of the Bicycle. This thing was very well publicized (I caught glimpses of flyers in several of my favorite places) and with such a catchy title, how could I refuse?

Now as sort of a nerd, I really love exhibits in "art" galleries that include history lessons or scientific fact or any sort of decidedly non-art context. I think the two genres of information, art and history--though not that combination of the two, art history--when presented together can create a deeper, more comprehensive experience than either taken alone. Not for all art shows, of course, but for many, like this one, it really does the trick. For the show was composed of prints and posters for bicycle companies, rare ones, some worth several thousands of dollars. They were brightly colored and usually involving beautiful ladies, illustrated in the style of art nouveau and screened by hand. And while the posters stand sturdily on their own the addition of the social history, as told through placards littered throughout the posters themselves, really makes it more an exhibit and less a catalogue of prints. The prints then represent distinct eras within a chronology that, though missing examples from several crucial periods, tells the story of the beloved bicycle over the last century and a half. And I don't mean to spoil any of it for you, but the tale from start to finish is all romance.

Marque George Richard/Cycles & Automobiles, 1899

The opening was really well attended! We rolled up to a crowd spilling out into a tiny tiny block of South Rittenhouse Square Street, messengers and old timers and afficionados and hippy do-gooder types all mixed in together. There was lots of food, delicious madeleines and tasty beer. There was a delightfully extraordinary band playing music that made you feel like it might not be 2008. It might by 1908. And they also gave out favors! Blinky Lights!

As I mentioned, women were prominently featured in several of the ads. I learned that in the early days of the bicycle, the independence it afforded young ladies combined with its early reputation for being a bit pornographic made it a tough sell to women in general. A deluge of advertising illuminating the virtue and femininity of the machine resulted, and by the turn of the century women comprised 1/3 of the market for bicycles. That's the only history you're gettting for free! Go see the rest of it for yourself. Up for another month, Tuesday through Sunday from 10-7.


Ruh Roh!

Animal lovers that we are, we wanted to make these photos public, as it's not every day you get to see your product displayed so doggone well. These were sent in by Jaami, the proud new owner of the turquoise and burgundy superhero featured below. I hate to say it, but the model, Tobie, pretty much outshines the belt in these scenes. And rightly so.

So thanks to Jaami and Tobie for their enthusiastic and spirited photos! We promise to display any pet related photos demonstrating FH product versatility from here on out.


Tandemonium 2008

What could possibly beat the heat this time of year? What's worth sitting in an hour of traffic on Friday at rush hour in a hot car with sad air conditioning? You probably already guessed it: A trip to the Trexlertown Velodrome for the annual tandem track racing event Tandemonium. Um, can I just say...


The race featured the USAC Tandem Sprint Nationals and included riders from all over the world. A series of sprints, followed by one knock down drag out (thank goodness, not literally) go of all eleven teams on the track at once. And in the end, Argentina took it. Crowd favorites also included Gomez and Gomez, a brothers team from Pasadena, CA and a father son duo from King of Prussia. Sadly, no ladies competed on tandems, though there were a couple intermittent rounds of solo riding sprints for both men and women.

Fancy Wheels, too.


Jerk It

Normally I don't get sucked into crazy videos on YouTube, but for this I made an exception as I think I've watched this six times in the last twelve hours. It's by That Go, a duo comprised of Noel Paul and Stefan Moore, two graduate students at DXArts, the Center for Digital Arts at the University of Washington in Seattle. The video was created for a contest hosted by Thunderheist to make a music video for their song Jerk It, and not surprisingly, it won. The whole thing is pretty much total genius.


City X

In honor of this holiday weekend and my own experience of America, I wanted to share with you a really excellent piece of radio. It documents that very spirit of American freedom, independence and liberty--the mall--through a documentary piece set in a small anytown in Illinois. Listening to this made me feel at once both happy to have moved away from my own small, mall-loving town and also immensely nostalgic for the time when my life orbited around it. The feeling of security, albeit somewhat artificial, when your life can be thusly defined by a single structure is an understandable one.

Jonathan Mitchell produced this story, which comes through as affectionate and critical in the very same breath. He scores the entire piece using Muzak, the easy listening generic brand pop music so often found humming throughout the corridors of shopping malls. I really like that he manages to include both macro and micro observations by townies and urban theorists to present a very full picture of his subject. I heard the story on RadioLab, a genius show put out by WNYC that creates sadly only 5 episodes a season. They aired City X as filler while they work on the upcoming season. It turned out to be at least as quality as the show itself.

Carrie and I both hail from the midwest, as you may or may not know. Our lives in Philadelphia share very few of the landscapes found in Ohio or Wisconsin, and we like to keep it that way. Bearing this in mind, I have a very certain pride for my rural suburban roots. I have a distaste for box stores and mall-like development precisely because I knew it so intimately for the first 18 years of my life. In fact, I worked at the mall in the Marshall Field's shoe department throughout high school. Most of my friends had jobs at the Gap, Banana Republic or Sunglass Hut because it was the easiest place for teenagers to get jobs at the time. And this keeps me humble when talking about the people caught up in contemporary American development, working and shopping in malls, driving from parking lot to parking lot. The issue is bigger than the people. And the sheer size of this lifestyle sometimes clouds our collective imagination about what else might be possible.

The Food Court of my own hometown's mall.

Johnathan's piece obviously comes from another ex-small town standpoint; his interest in the topic demonstrates a definite movement from inside mall culture to now critically outside of it. And while he seems to hint at a certain incredulity at the culture's persistence and aggressive appetite for corn fields and outskirts, he also highlights the significance and meaning, positive or negative, the mall holds in American culture. A sure sign of sound journalism.


Bike Friends

It's never to late to make a play date for your bike. Just because he or she is made of steel doesn't mean your bike lacks feelings.

Couldn't we all use a hug from time to time? I thought so.