'Pressure': Pedaling Art

Lance Armstrong shows off his cultural side with an exhibit of bike art

Detail of Phil Frost's sweet ride
Detail of Phil Frost's sweet ride

Whenever the words "bicycle" and "France" end up in the same sentence, it brings to mind a champion who succeeded by going against convention and rewriting the history books multiple times in the process. Of course, this refers to the French dadaist artist Marcel Duchamp. In 1913, his second crowning achievement after his tour de force Nude Descending a Staircase was an eye-catching work, Bicycle Wheel. Duchamp radically redefined what was considered art by simply fixing a bicycle wheel onto a stool and proclaiming it a "readymade." (He would eclipse this defining piece shortly thereafter with Fountain, a white porcelain urinal which he signed "R. Mutt.") Not only did Duchamp turn everything upside down with Bicycle Wheel, but he permanently set a momentous and historic marker that all others' achievements in the field are still compared to today.

Sound familiar? One doesn't have to look any farther than our own back yard as seven-time winner Lance Armstrong gears up for another Tour de France next year. In the meantime, this record-breaking titan of racing is mixing up his own love of art at his new bike shop, Mellow Johnny's, with "Pressure," a touring exhibition of bike art. Originating in San Francisco and continuing on to Los Angeles, New York, and Milan, "Pressure" features several standout artists, such as Josh Lazcano (aka Amaze), Ashley Macomber, and Barry McGee. Other artists in the exhibition include Dmote, Brian Donnelly (aka Kaws), Phil Frost, Jesse Geller, Stephen Powers, Clare Rojas, C.R. Stecyk III, and P.M. Tenore. The bike art included ranges from the humorous and whimsical, especially Lazcano's eco-friendly pedal-push mower bike, to pieces that are pattern- and graphic-based. All of the artwork will be available through silent auction during the duration of the Austin exhibition dates.

"Pressure" is organized by famed bicycle company Cinelli and RVCA. Both companies have ventured into this territory before. Cinelli previously commissioned artist Keith Haring, and clothing apparel company RVCA created its own Artist Network Program, which showcases the talents of accomplished as well as unknown artists to cross over to an urban, street-savvy audience.

"Pressure" runs Sept. 18-30 at Mellow Johnny's Bike Shop, 400 Nueces. For more information, call 473-0222. The opening of the exhibition, Thursday, Sept. 18, 7-10pm, is being held in conjunction with the Bicycle Film Festival at 501 Studios, Sept. 19-20. For more information, see "The Bike Stuff," Screens, and visit www.bicyclefilmfestival.com.

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