It looks like a steam-punk caterpillar, with a bulbous, glass beaker-shaped head, old-fashioned driving goggles for eyes, and an elongated body made mostly from calipers, or bicycle brakes. Aptly named "Caliperpillar," it's Indy-based artist Matt Sommers's submission to reCYCLE pARTS, a fundraiser/art show opening Friday at The Stutz.
The show's premise is relatively simple: Take bicycles destined for the dump, tear them apart, and allow sculptors, photographers and painters to wheel away as many parts as needed. 20 local artists, given two months to create their pieces, are participating; sales will raise money for local and international bicycle charities.
Sun King Brewing Company is partnering with the Stutz Artist Association on the show, which, according to Sun King's Heather Hall, was inspired by a similar program run by Chicago-based bike company SRAM. "They have done some major art shows where they have taken their very high end, very chic, very flashy bike components and had artists construct sculptures," she says. "We thought to make the SRAM concept our own by taking bikes that are no longer usable and turning them into art."
Welder and photographer Sara McCracken's contribution is an abstract photograph, "Breaking Away," that pictures, among other elements, a carbon fiber disc and brake wires. The end result shows a whirl of colors blurring together in a way that suggests speed and vitality. "I decided, for myself, that I wanted the art to reflect not the sad old bicycle parts we had, but the lives they lived before," she says.
Most of the aged bikes used for the show came from the backlot of Freewheelin' Community Bikes, where kids learn to repair and maintain bikes, with the chance to earn a bike of their own after putting in enough time and effort.
While plenty of elderly and abused bikes have found new life at Freewheelin', a few are beyond saving. It was those cast-offs that Hall and her husband, who designs bike wheels for Indy-based SRAM subsidiary Zipp Speed Weaponry, tore apart in order to give artists raw material for their pieces.
"We (Sun King) really love bringing different elements of the community together, bringing cycling enthusiasts together with people who enjoy art," she says. "It points out the commonalities between the two."