July 18, 2019

Countersteer: Custom Motorcycles as Self-Portraits @ Richmond Art Center

Countersteer: Custom Motorcycles as Self-Portraits
Richmond Art Center
September 10 – November 22, 2019

Countersteer: Custom Motorcycles as Self-Portraits
© Richmond Art Center

The Richmond Art Center will present a unique exhibition on the aesthetic, functionality and individuality of the popular open road vehicle that has for generations symbolized personal freedom. From its humble beginnings in the late 1800s as a motorized bicycle, the motorcycle has inspired creative modifications matching its great versatility, it can be a street machine, a long-distance touring bike, a track racer, a mountain endurance machine, a drag racer and more. Creative individuals have endeavored to improve the performance and enhance aesthetic qualities of their vehicle of choice. The rider is exposed, an integral part of the machine, out in the open. But when it is still, it becomes an aesthetic object, with painted surfaces and hand-crafted parts that reflects the rider’s intended self-portrait of its maker.

“Motorcycles have captivated imaginations and inspired creativity for generations,” says Phillip Linhares, guest co-curator of the exhibition. “This is not a motorcycle show, but an exhibition of personal and cultural expression, combining art and engineering in the evolution of an aesthetic object.”

Countersteer is an exhibition of works by artists and engineers making motorcycles their own. The exhibition will include 12 custom and classic motorcycles ranging from a Harley-Davidson’s first V-Twin, to a contemporary costumed designed motorcycle to a ridable Part-Bin Special assembled by a team of artists, just to see if they could. A glimpse into motorcycle culture and spirit will include paintings and sculptures by artists, as well as personal paraphernalia, and stories of individuals inspired by their own riding exploits. Each machine in the collection represents the vision of an individual of out riding, out maneuvering or just out shining the field of stock motorcycles.

“The exhibition reveals a strong do-it-yourself ethos that drives people to turn two-wheel conveyances into movable sculpture” said Danny Aarons, co-curator. “It offers a view into a hugely diverse sub-culture and asks Why customize a bike? Can we recognize a motorcycle as Art”?

“Countersteering” is term used by motorcyclists to initiate a lean of the body turn toward a given direction and momentarily steering counter to the desired direction.

Countersteer: Custom Motorcycles as Self-Portraits, is guest co-curated by Phil Linares, retired Chief Curator of the Oakland Museum and Danny Aarons, motorcycle enthusiast.

2540 Barrett Avenue, Richmond, California 94804