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Art on Wheels

As temperatures rise and skies clear, you may be tempted to dust off the bike and take it for a ride. If so, point your handlebars to the de Saisset where a pair of shows explores the art and local history of biking. Clunkers to MTBs: The Evolution of the Mountain Bike and Chain Reaction: Artists Consider the Bicycle both run from April 13 to July 1, 2012.

Clunkers to MTBs traces the roots of the mountain bike, or MTB, in the Bay Area back to its origins in the 1970s with “clunkers” speeding down Mt. Tamalpais and enthusiasts traversing the trails in Cupertino. “We felt that was a historical moment and a historical connection to this area. Since the de Saisset is an art and history museum, it made a lot of sense for us to look at MTBs through the lens of history,” notes Lindsey Kouvaris, curator of exhibits and collections at the museum.

Visitors can view photographs of many of the sport’s early participants, historic bikes, ephemera of the grassroots Repack Races, as well as design sketches and prototypes through the final product of MTB advances.
Chain Reaction takes more of an artistic look at the bike. “It’s much more in line with what our usual curatorial, thematic bent is in that it showcases fine artists working in multiple media who deal with the bike through the imagery, through the inspiration, or through the actual components of the bike in their fine art work. Photographs. Paintings. Sculpture. Works of that nature,” Kouvaris explains.
For example, Katina Huston draws shadows in her pictures. “So the bicycle for her is an object that casts an interesting shadow. It’s not so much about the bike as it is about the form of the object itself,” Kouvaris says.
Together the two shows will have a broad appeal to people of all ages and backgrounds, including cyclists, entrepreneurs, inventors, historians, and art enthusiasts, Kouvaris says. “There are a lot of threads for people to connect with in these exhibitions.”
Also showing at the de Saisset is Indelibly Yours: Smith Andersen Editions and the Tattoo Project,the brainchild of Paula Kirkeby, a longtime supporter of the museum and owner of Smith Andersen Editions in Palo Alto. The exhibition presents a selection of 30 prints inspired by the tattoo aesthetic and created by 10 different artists—five known for printmaking and five known for tattooing.
“[The pieces] are all colorful and graphic,” Kouvaris says. “It’s a fun exhibit.” Indelibly Yours runs until July 1, 2012.
The museum is open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays, closed Mondays. No charge for admission. For special programs, closing dates, and more information, visit

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