New Times / Art
The following articles were printed from New Times [newtimesslo.com] - Volume 29, Issue 41
Bike-themed works are spinning through Linnaea's
By HAYLEY THOMAS
The iconic bike rack located outside of Linnaea’s Café hasn’t always been part of the Garden Street landscape.
Strange to think, but there was a sad, lonely time when that jumble of handlebars, baskets, and humanity just didn’t exist. The original Linnaea’s Café Owner Linnaea Phillips had to fight for that hard-won rack many moons ago.
“She went to so many meetings and forums to make it happen,” said current café owner Marianne Orme. “It’s such a part of the experience. You can ride right up, and there are people sitting in the window looking out and saying hello. I can’t imagine Linnaea’s without it.”
Recently, when the bike rack was threatened again—this time due to the looming Garden Street Terraces Project—Orme carried on the tradition, rallying the troops to ensure that the rack would remain outside the eclectic community hangout.
That famous hunk of metal—along with a slew of other bike-centric subjects—are featured in JoyRide, an exhibit held at Linnaea’s Café through May, National Bike Month. Nineteen local artists contributed to the show, and 25 percent of proceeds will go to the SLO Bike Coalition.
Miss feeling the wind in your hair? This show proves that you’re only two wheels away from freedom.
From spokes and gears to bike-themed sculptures (including Orme’s fun, painted bike seats), the show encompasses what it means to “live to ride.”
Amy McKay’s SLO Life painting is a cheery, breezy view of bright red sneakers pedaling with ease. The artist said she was inspired by Saturday morning cruises—especially the kind that end in delicious breakfast foods.
“This is a town where you can probably get there faster on your bike; a town where you can wear your Chuck Taylors to a work meeting or to the corner market for Friday afternoon beers,” McKay said. “A bike ride to town is sometimes all you need to put life in perspective and to feel grateful for the little things.”
Contributing artist Bret Brown is on a similar wavelength. The artist is inspired by street art and the beauty of the natural world. When he’s not toiling over his artwork, you can find him mountain biking Cuesta Ridge.
“Although I’ve spent plenty of time road and mountain biking, my thoughts kept pulling me back to my childhood and the memories I have as a kid riding bikes with my childhood friends,” Brown said of his quirky piece. “I wanted to capture this idea of friendship and playfulness.”
Now that the artist is older, Brown got to thinking about what friendship really means. Is it enough to hang out and ride bikes ’til the sun goes down? Or is your real buddy the one who will ride with you through the darkness in search of a lost Frisbee?
“It got me thinking about the Hellen Keller quote, ‘Walking’—or in some cases riding—‘with a friend in the dark is better than walking alone in the light,’” Brown said.
Artist Cynthia Meyer was inspired by her husband’s love of bike culture. Eric Meyer is a huge bike advocate in SLO, working on local bike paths and lending a hand at bike kitchens.
“He would drag all of these bikes home and tinker on them, and they would end up out in the yard looking like these jewels as the sunlight shown on them,” Meyer said. “So, I started painting them.”
From 1940s clunkers to brand new retro reproductions, Meyer has painted a range of bicycles. You might even recognize the two bicycles featured in her artwork hanging at Linnaea’s.
“A lot of these bikes are still in town and have been adopted by friends, so you might see them riding around town,” she said. “I love the bikes. They say so much about freedom, joy, movement, childhood, and getting out and about.”
With our incessant need to be connected via social media, “getting out and about” is no small feat. If you ask Brown, it’s downright crucial to the existence of our species.
“Cycling is a great mode of transportation because it gets us moving, gets us outside, and offers us an opportunity to reconnect with that more primitive peace that lives within all of us,” Brown said. “We are losing that peace at a fast rate and cycling can quickly get us back in touch with that.”
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