These days, the design, colour and effect that is applied to a frame plays as much of a starring role as the groupset or accessories that are installed upon it. With good reason, too. It takes a high level of skill and creativity to paint a canvas that is thin, round, and expensive.
Handsome Cycles teamed up with the Minneapolis Institute of Arts for their 100th anniversary, along with two creative agencies, a custom paint shop and Peacock Groove, on a project that truly blends bikes and art: three two-wheeled interpretations of pieces from the permanent collection.
The first is inspired by one of the largest and most unusual artworks at MIA: a Czechoslovakian Tatra T87. The T87 was designed and built in 1948 and was the pinnacle of Eastern European automotive design, a V-8, 75-horsepower blur of style and aerodynamics.
With a rear engine capable of speeds in excess of 100 miles per hour, a stabilising fin was required to keep the vehicle from wavering at pace, and provided a vision for the styling. Peacock Groove’s Erik Noren fabricated a rear end reflecting the fin, while a Brooks saddle looks to the car’s leather interior.
Frank Stella is a minimalist, modernist, and abstract expressionist American painter who creates marvellously vivid geometric sculptures and canvases — several fine examples of which are in the MIA collection. One is titled Tahkt-I-Sulayman Variation II and it inspired the second bike.
This choice of artwork must have been an easy one. Stella produced this work in 1967, one of a series based on the protractor, and even the flat canvas seems to move like a peloton. It would be interesting to hear what he thinks of a three dimensional version of this piece.
Brad Galvin runs Dirt Designs Graphic in Minneapolis, a full service custom paint shop specialising in the eye-watering coats of colour that transforms raw material into works of art. Applying the final touch to these frames and exhibiting them at the MIA may very well be his pièce de résistance.
With this entire collaboration, the primary focus of Handsome Cycles was to produce bikes that were actually ridable, and they succeeded, although you’d want to be careful when leaning them against a pole while you did the groceries. Brad Galvin is indeed an artist.
No photograph could really do the paintings of Claude Monet justice, just as his own paintings only attempted to capture the essence of colour and light. The French artist painted similar scenes in varying times of day and weather to study our visual perception.
These grainstacks were located near his home in Giverny and there’s a series of them in different shades, hues and moods. This example was painted at dawn in autumn, and you can almost sense the crispness of the hazy air. A challenge for Dirt Designs to replicate, then.
A challenge to which Brad rose. The finishing is also superb: an aged Brooks saddle and grips complement the antique paint-splattered wooden crate on the front from the Lake City Beverage Company. The perfect urban artist’s transport.