Tagged: bicycles

Johnathan “JJ” Wilson in “Revolution No. 63” at Parish Ink

Johnathan “JJ” Wilson

“White Lotus Club”

White 2011 Windsor Wellington with custom paint

Courtesy Travis Aucoin

on view in the group exhibition “Revolution No.63″ at Parish Ink, 310 Jefferson Street, Lafayette, LA 70501

*** Author’s Note: If you would like to read the review of “Revolution No.63,” please see the previous post on this site titled “Free Wheelin’ It: ‘Revolution No. 63 at Parish Ink” here.

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Recycled Cycles in “Revolution No. 63” at Parish Ink

Recycled Cycles

“1930-1940 Boardtrack Racer Replica (Schwinn Wizzer)”

1930’s Bicycle Racer, 1940’s tank, 1941 Whizzer H Motor, 1936 Elgin wheels

on view in the group exhibition “Revolution No.63″ at Parish Ink, 310 Jefferson Street, Lafayette, LA 70501

*** Author’s Note: If you would like to read the review of “Revolution No.63,” please see the previous post on this site titled “Free Wheelin’ It: ‘Revolution No. 63 at Parish Ink” here.

 

Bike Helmet Art in “Revolution No. 63” at Parish Ink

Bike Helmet Art in “Revolution No. 63”

(from top, left to right)

Johnathan “JJ” Wilson, “Capped and Loaded,” bottle caps and helmet frame

Jessalyn newton and Mike Bourque, “Horny Japan,” acrylic and foam core on helmet frame

Johnathan “JJ” Wilson, “Wavveessss,” acrylic and ink on helmet frame

Derrick Ewing, “Don’t Break yo Head,” acrylic and ink helmet frame

Yerba the Yenta, “Challa Back, B@$%&s!,” crocheted yarn, dolls, wire and fabric on helmet frame

Mike Bourque, “Untitled,” acrylic on helmet frame

Monica Zabicki, “Gears,” acrylic and ink on helmet frame

Jessalyn Newton, “Untitled,” photocollage on helmet frame

Landon Bell, “Untitled,” wire sculpture

Matthew Guidry, “Storm a Coming,” acrylic on helmet frame

Artist Unknown, “Ceremeonial Helmet for the Secret Sky-wheelie Ritual,” acrylic, feathers, departed souls and psychic energies on helmet frame

on view in the group exhibition “Revolution No.63″ at Parish Ink, 310 Jefferson Street, Lafayette, LA 70501

*** Author’s Note: If you would like to read the review of “Revolution No.63,” please see the previous post on this site titled “Free Wheelin’ It: ‘Revolution No. 63 at Parish Ink” here.

Spoke Cards in “Revolution No. 63” at Parish Ink

Tyler Broussard

“Untitled”

Johnathan “JJ” Wilson

“Bikes of A Feather”

Mr. Christopher

“F@$% Cars”

Matthew Hernandez

“King”

Travis Aucoin

“Grippy”

Ashley Austin

“Power the Freedom Machine”

Spoke Card Display in “Revolution No. 63” at Parish Ink

on view in the group exhibition “Revolution No.63″ at Parish Ink, 310 Jefferson Street, Lafayette, LA 70501

*** Author’s Note: If you would like to read the review of “Revolution No.63,” please see the previous post on this site titled “Free Wheelin’ It: ‘Revolution No. 63 at Parish Ink” here.

Alyce LaBry and Landon Bell in “Revolution No. 63” at Parish Ink

 

Alyce Labry

“Simple Machine”

woodcut on paper

Landon Bell

“Untitled”

silkscreen on paper

on view in the group exhibition “Revolution No.63″ at Parish Ink, 310 Jefferson Street, Lafayette, LA 70501

*** Author’s Note: If you would like to read the review of “Revolution No.63,” please see the previous post on this site titled “Free Wheelin’ It: ‘Revolution No. 63 at Parish Ink” here.

Kevin Beasley in “Revolution No. 63” at Parish Ink

Kevin Beasley

All images titled “Untitled” from the “Out of Place” series

digital prints on foam core

on view in the group exhibition “Revolution No.63” at Parish Ink, 310 Jefferson Street, Lafayette, LA 70501

*** Author’s Note: If you would like to read the review of “Revolution No.63,” please see the previous post on this site titled “Free Wheelin’ It: ‘Revolution No. 63 at Parish Ink” here.

Free Wheelin’ It: “Revolution No. 63” at Parish Ink

Installation shot of “Revolution No. 63”

by Reggie Michael Rodrigue

Grassroots activism and art go hand-in-hand.  Jaques Louis David’s early paintings visually galvanized the ideals of the French Revolution.  The coded negro spirituals of the Underground Railroad assisted slaves in escaping the confines of their masters during the heyday of the Antebellum South.  The illustrated fliers and pamphlets  from the Temperance Movement warned of the dangers of alcohol at the turn of the last century, ultimately assisting in the institution of Prohibition in the 1920’s.  Picasso created the ultimate denouncement of the abject cruelty of fascism and war in his painting “Guernica”during the Spanish Civil War. The folk and protest songs of the civil rights and anti-war movements of the 1960’s lead to widespread reforms that still reverberate through our society.  The heady cocktail of subversive art and political discourse from the Situationist International lead to the General Strike of May 1968 in France.  The feminist art of Judy Chicago and other notable female artists of the 1970’s was a clarion call for the women of the world to rightly take their place “at the table.” In short, the power of art has been harnessed to champion a multitude of human causes.

Today is no different.  Art played a vital role in the Arab Spring Protests in the Middle East in the form of signage.  The Occupy Movement currently sweeping the country has followed suit and made artistic signage a key element of their protests against the injustice and greed of the top 1% of this country and the world.  Occupy organizers have even created arts committees to oversee the creation and distribution of art for the movement.  They have also protested against art institutions which they feel have unfair practices and standards: most notably the megalithic auction houses, such as Sotheby’s, which cater to the top 1% while underpaying their art handlers.  Museums have also not been immune to the protests of the Occupy Movement.

The origins of the Occupy Movement are even artistic in nature.  The movement was birthed by the culture-jamming magazine “Adbusters” which aims at deconstructing and undermining the manipulative messages we receive from multinational corporations in artistic and provocative ways.  Also, the movement has been peppered by the involvement of Anonymous, an organization spurred on my the politically charged, caped crusader film “V for Vendetta” to also seek justice in America.

On a smaller scale and certainly less incendiary but no less worthy, Lafayette has birthed a movement that is catching on like wildfire: Radical Biking.  It’s a movement to open-up the city to the more environmentally friendly and free-form option of biking, rather than driving.   In the past, Lafayette has been notoriously unaccommodating to bicyclists.  This, however is changing. There is now a site on Facebook titled “BikeLafayette” which has drawn over 500 members so far.  On the page, members can avail themselves of bike-centric conversation, up-coming events and biker’s rights.  Critical Mass has also become a hallmark of the Biking Movement. Organizers rally bicycle riders at Parc Sans Souci in Downtown Lafayette for bimonthly trips across the city en masse, forcing motorists to hold off and take notice of them.   Within these rides, moments for the exchange of information and advocacy take place.  Art has entered the picture as well.  Recently, after a biker was killed by a motorist on the main thoroughfare of Johnston St.,  Critical Mass installed a white bike sculpture called a “ghost bike” in memorial of their fallen comrade on wheels. Bike culture has become a big social experiment in Lafayette, spurring the addition of bike lanes and paths through parts of the city.   The movement still has a long way to go, but it has had an intensively propulsive start thanks to a can-do spirit that has enlivened the city in many respects.

Going back to the subject of art, the movement has given the city another first: an group art exhibition devoted to biking.  The exhibition is titled “Revolution No. 63.”  Curators Lillian Aguinaga and Johnathan “JJ” Wilson incubated it in the Gallery at the Grant.  However, due to some rather unfortunate business politics within Grant St. Dancehall, the art venue was closed (I, for one, was very saddened by the news), and  Aguinaga and Wilson had to look for a new venue.  In stepped the team of Jillian Johnson, Bram Johnson and Tom Brown.  They were set to open a new locally owned and grown graphic apparel store called Parish Ink in Downtown Lafayette, and they offered Aguinaga and Wilson their storefront as a venue for the exhibition.  Opening night coincided with Parish Inks’ grand opening on Artwalk night this November.

Before I go any further, I have to state that my wife and I are both participating artists in the exhibition.  We exhibited anonymously: my wife did it because she enjoyed having an alter ego, and I participated anonymously as a function of the piece of art I made which I will explain later.  We were asked to participate in the exhibition by Wilson, who is a co-worker of my wife’s and a personal friend of ours.  I also have to say that I am my own worst critic, and I don’t hold my tongue when it comes to my friends’ exhibitions, either.  Unfortunately, I’ve had to dish-out several negative reviews recently, all of which were either exhibitions that I was either connected to in some way or exhibitions put together by friends or co-workers.  In the past, I’ve also given very positive reviews to artists I don’t particularly care for personally, basing the review solely on the caliber of their artistic achievement.  I should also mention that my wife is a nascent but avid member of the Lafayette biking community.   That being said …

“Revolution No. 63” was one of the highlights of this month’s Artwalk for me.  It is a fantastic marriage of art, grassroots activism, philanthropy and commerce that I hadn’t seen before in Lafayette.  The art, while being far from groundbreaking or earthshaking, is lovingly crafted, irreverent, and quite a lot of fun.  Within the exhibition, viewers can peruse a variety of custom-built bikes and biking helmets, spoke cards, paintings, photographs, and prints by biking enthusiasts who are also artists.  Rather than being sequestered in a particular section of Parish ink or simply hung on the walls as an after thought, the art has been displayed across the showroom, making it an integral part of this month’s Parish Ink experience.

In my opinion, the best art the exhibition has to offer are the photographs of Kevin Beasley’s from his “Out of Place” series.  They are beautifully rendered, evocative and quirky images of lone bicyclists and their bikes in a swimming pool or a living room, respectively.  These works grab your attention and don’t let go.   The more I think about them, the more they dovetail with the ambition of the city’s biking movement to reach every part of the city.  It may be incidental, but they are arresting tributes to that ambition.   Also high on my list was the work of Pat Phillips who offered some works that didn’t necessarily address biking culture but street culture in general.  His graffiti-inspired canvas “NOMAD” is a knockout image of a boombox, implying the importance of transportability  and music in contemporary street culture.  This was coincidentally amplified by the presence of a DJ at the opening.  Two smaller works by Phillips,  “Homework 1” and “Home Work 2,”  join “NOMAD” in the show.  Phillips has affixed old homework to wood panels and graffitied over them, creating some insanely doodleriffic pieces of art.  These things are sly and incredibly witty.  They also include the written steps that Phillips used to create the graffiti that covers his homework.  It’s street education versus higher education, and in this instance, the street wins.

Alyce LaBry and Landon Bell both offer some simple yet elegant prints of bikes that I enjoyed.  Stu Babin contributed a bizarre poster advertising the “Swamp Thing Alley Cat Race 2011.”  In this graphically hilarious piece, a bike punk rides past the famous comic and movie character, Swamp Thing.  It ain’t exactly high art: it’s an advertisement.  However, it’s extremely well done, great to look at,  and it captures the spirit of the biking movement in the city.

If any of you don’t know this already, spoke cards are laminated pieces of art on paper that are attached to bicycle spokes for decoration.  One of the best things about “Revolution No. 63” is its spoke card display which contains 31 separate cards that run the gambit in terms of style.  Tyler Broussard’s hippie/tie died inspired card, Johnathan “JJ” Wilson’s CMYK inspired card,  Mr Christopher’s “F@$% Cars ” card,  Matthew Hernandez’s card fusing the Acadian flag, a pelican and a bike wheel, Travis Aucoin’s card displaying an image of a hipstertastic deer head with mustache and handlebars for antlers, and Ashley Austin’s card showing a woman on a bike about to launch a bazooka at some Hummers are really worthy inclusions.  The really great thing about the spoke cards is that for the first week of the exhibition, all proceeds from the cards went to a local bicycle advocacy organization.  This exhibition definitely has heart, and advocacy is central to it’s message.

Some pretty sweet rides are on display.  The shop Recycled Cycles is presenting two vintage overhauls with modifications.  Johnathan “JJ” Wilson painted an intricate, black and white graffiti pattern across Zach Knight’s bike titled “The White Lotus Club.”  For all of you geeks out there, there’s a gray Nintendo bike with a controller mod titled “Liberate This Generation.” There’s also a pin-up inspired ride by Anthony Bonamolo for the all the Playboys and Playgirls. Unfortunately, some of these bikes are hanging vertically from the rafters of the store.  This makes for some neck craning and difficult viewing, especially when it comes to the intricate details on some of these bikes.  The show gets a ding from me when it comes to this.  I can’t help but think that there could have been a better solution.

Last but certainly not least, the helmets make up a pretty lively section of the show.  All of them are pretty slapdash affairs.  Jessalyn Newton and Mike Bourque’s  “Horny Japan” is an homage to Japanese monster movies, a’ la “Godzilla:” their helmet has a row of “horns” running down the middle of it.  Bourque takes a solo turn with an interesting green, grinning monster painted on a helmet.  Monica Zabicki painted gears all over her helmet, and Matthew Guidry transformed his helmet into a “Starwars” imperial storm trooper mask.

Now, I have to give my wife and I some light props for getting freaky-deaky, if nothing else.  My wife is going under the pseudonym “Yerba the Yenta” for the show.  Her piece is a satirical play on her Jewish roots (although her family hasn’t practiced since possibly the turn of the last century).  It’s a crocheted helmet complete with a yarmulke, side burn curls, an evil eye and … some knock off versions of Disney’s princess dolls stripped down to loins cloths and sewed on the back of the helmet!  The piece is called “Challa Back , B@$%&s!”  A pun on the ubiquitous cat call and the Jewish staple food, challa bread.  All I have to say is that when she first showed it to me complete, my jaw dropped and I couldn’t stop laughing.  Based on that reaction, I’d call it art, and I’d say my wife has issues (love you, Bubbie).  My helmet was a hastily created piece with a false start.  At first I didn’t know what the hell to do, and I procrastinated because of it.  It all came together a couple of days past the deadline for the show (really sorry JJ and Lillian, but I was crazy busy).  I came up with this fictitious story about the Critical Mass riders being an urban tribe who perform a ritual called the Secret Sky-wheelie, in which participants spiritually connect to the pavement and the sky.  During the ritual, they must wear a ceremonial helmet with bizarre tribal patterns and feathers.  Some participants die trying to perform the ritual.  If this happens, their departed souls and psychic energies get sucked into the helmet.  So the “Ceremonial Helmet for the Secret Sky-wheelie Ritual” was born.  I withheld my name so that it would seem more like an anthropological artifact that went along with the story.  It’s not the greatest thing I’ve ever done, but I’m proud of it nonetheless – mostly for the story that goes along with it.

So, all in all, I have to say that “Revolution No. 63” is one of the most spirited and enjoyable exhibitions I’ve seen in Lafayette.  It’s good, it’s got heart and soul, and it’s for a great cause.  What also was amazing to me was the way the art meshed with the store itself.  It’s typically a taboo for someone like myself, a fine artist and critic to discuss art and the “lowly” subject of commerce.  However, in this case, I’m throwing that taboo out the window.  The people at Parish Ink deserve a special thanks not only for donating their venue for the show, but doing special work and thinking locally.  The graphics on their apparel express a uniquely witty, smart and regional flair that complement the artwork very well.  It is a great marriage.  I, for one, am leaving this exhibition feeling satisfied that artistically, financially, and ethically we all achieved something special.