Bicycles both material and subject matter of exhibit

by Jordan Green

Ahandful of bicycle builders were putting finishing touches on displays of their custom-made cycles in the secondfloor gallery at the High Point Theatre on July 25, two days before the men’s and women’s national championship races — high-speed spectacles set among the glitzy showrooms of downtown.

The High Point Cycling Classic, which took place over the past weekend, was something of an epic undertaking. In addition to the races, the organizers corralled food trucks, set up a children’s play zone, showed films and scheduled live music.

To celebrate the design aspects of cycling, the Theatre Arts Gallery inside the massive theater in the heart of the market district is hosting a companion showcase, The Bicycle: Art Meets Form, which will outlive the four-day cycling meet, running through Sept. 22. The exhibit includes a painting and sculpture show juried by Edie Carpenter, curator of the Greenhill Center for NC Art in Greensboro. A second component is The Five Leading Lights of Custom Frame Building display, which features handmade cycles and frames made by five international craftsmen: Mark DiNucci of Portland, Ore.; Dario Pegoretti of Caldonazzo, Italy; Peter Weigle of Lyme, Conn.; and Dave Wages of Waterford, Wis.

Claire Horney, whose husband is the executive director of the Theatre Arts Gallery was admiring a sculpture by Zach Lail on the second floor.

“This is magnificent,” she said. Titled “Inflight,” the piece is constructed entirely from bicycle parts and depicts a crane spreading wings fashioned from battered fenders, metal tubing and sprockets of various sizes.

In the same vein, the Patricia Cooke sculpture “Acceptance” is fabricated entirely from recycled bicycle tires and screws. Cooke, who has worked out of the 205 Collaborative suite of studios in Greensboro, uses bicycle tires to make female nude sculptures. The twisted and distressed tires have an uncanny resemblance to the sinews of human musculature.

On the flip, much of the juried show uses painting and photography to depict cycling as opposed to using parts as materials.

Mike Dale’s linocut relief prints feature clean lines and aesthetic minimalism that in different ways celebrate the joys of cycling. “Bikes and Beer” shows a small wooden crate stocked with a six-pack on the back of a bike while “Drivetrain” simply depicts a crankset and chain assembly.

David K. Stanley’s pastels display a whimsical take on the activity of cycling. “Vampires” shows disgraced professional cyclist Lance Armstrong in a besieged pose pushing through a swarm of microphones, hypodermic needles and plastic dosage cups. “Role Reversal” depicts a Rhodesian ridgeback attired in a helmet, gloves and shirt trying to ride past a snarling human that looks like one of the shape-shifters from “True Blood.”

Between awe-inspiring cycle design and whimsical caricature, the exhibit still makes room for inspiring social innovation and cultural celebration.

Visitors to the second-floor gallery are greeted at the top of the staircase by a rusty, adult tricycle outfitted with a bed of mature wheat in back and a wooden box fastened to the handlebars that conceals a projector. The rig, part of a project by Ted Efremoff, screens a 12-minute film chronicling a growing season in a vacant lot in the depressed Frog Hollow neighborhood of Hartford, Conn. Viewers see a bicycle pulling a plow to till the ground after the spring thaw, a summer solstice party with fiddles and guitars, wheat being harvested by scythe and bundled onto a bicycle-pulled cart, a threshing dance and, finally, a pizzamaking party.

All part of the cycle.