Covered in white, synthetic hair, dollar bills, paint or disassembled and wrapped in wire. Those are a few of the ways in which bicycles have been transformed into art pieces for ARTcycle: Bikes Become Art, a new exhibit at the Coral Gables Museum starting Jan. 23. The creator, cyclist and graphic designer Tachi Llamas, designed the show to commemorate riders who have died on the road.
For the past seven years, Llamas has been involved with the local cycling community. Despite her positive experiences biking through town, Llamas believes Miami is not safe for bicyclists and has heard more than one account of cyclists getting injured or killed.
“I wanted to come up with a project where I could bring my graphic design aspects and my cycling together putting into something with a meaning and to support a cause,” she says.
Llamas recruited her fellow graphic designer and longtime friend Giselle “Gigi” Delgado to develop the ARTcycle idea. The acronym in the name stands for “awareness, respect and tolerance.”
Some of the pieces in the show are broken-down bicycles, reassembled and transformed to resemble animals or asymmetrical objects. Others are painted with bright colors or adorned with synthetic fur or prints, and some don’t contain any bicycle parts but are instead paintings that incorporate bikes.
Delgado and Llamas hope their show will stir the feelings present in the community after a cyclist is hit or killed.
“After a lot of these accidents happen, a lot of people come together and they gather up and they have meetings and they talk about ‘What are we going to do to make Miami safer?’ and it’s all very serious, controversial,” Llamas says. “There’s a lot of rage coming also from people who drive against the cyclists and the other way around.”
The duo hope to avoid the animosity and controversy of the issue and replace it with positive dialogue.
“When someone has a fatal accident there’s nothing nice to say about it,” Delgado says. “It’s really sad, but art has the ability to create emotion and to inspire and inform in a way that is not so dramatic. ... We are using the artistic component as the way to create that awareness.”
But ARTcycle isn’t all about traffic accidents or fatalities. Mariano Costa Peuser and Cesar Santalo are exhibiting pieces in ARTcycle.
Peuser’s “Financial Bike” was inspired by his experience working for museums that would not pay him for his photography during the global financial crisis. It’s also an allusion to a phrase from his native Argentina, no me hagas la bicicleta, which means “don’t give me the runaround.”
Santalo’s “Samson” is made of two bike frames joined with tie wraps and coat hangers to resemble a large horse, all without a single weld. Santalo sought to draw parallels between horses and cyclists: “Every time cyclists go out on the road there is an element of danger, but they do it anyway. I want the horse to have that same feeling of vitality and energy and ambition that the cyclists have when they go out knowing that’s there is danger out, and doing it anyways because they love it.”
Llamas and Delgado hope their efforts will help shape future ideas of how South Floridians perceive each other on the roads.
“In the long-run our vision is that, hopefully five to 10 years from now, we see that we have done something to make Miami be a friendlier and more safe city, not just for cyclists but for pedestrians in general,” Llamas says.
ARTcycle is free to get in and open to the public at 7 p.m., Jan. 23, running through Feb. 23. The Coral Gables Museum is located at 285 Aragon Ave., Coral Gables.