Although his résumé reads ‘Industrial Designer’, I get the impression that there is more to the story of Owen Payette McGarry. A recent graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design, he is also a DJ, graphic designer, tool maker, wood worker and, one day, a framebuilder. This is his first frame, appropriately titled The Grotesque.
The term ‘grotesque’ doesn’t necessarily mean ugly, although it has gained that definition since the 18th century. Indeed, from Latin times, it had a similar meaning to arabesque and moresque, referring to foliage patterns and designs of a curved, perhaps pagan, nature. Both architects and archaeologists will recognise grotesques from many ancient buildings.
Last fall, Owen and five friends combined their resources to buy a frame building jig, six sets of True Temper tubes and six sets of lugs and, with a certain amount of advice from Brian Chapman of Chapman Cycles, taught themselves how to assemble frames. The Grotesque is the result of Owen’s efforts, a brakeless fixed-gear built for aggressive commuting.
Owen brazed together the aero handlebars as well and utilised his woodworking skills to turn a pair of torpedo-shaped bar ends from curly maple. Apparently, they were “a bit of a radical experiment, though have proved to be one of the most comfortable things I’ve ridden on.” They lend a futuristic element to an ancient looking beast.
Inspired by an affinity for the sea, Owen decided he’d prefer a figurehead to a head badge, reminiscent of those found on a galleon’s prow. His roommate, Caleb Colpitts, a jewellery student, sculpted and electroformed the Gargoyle before setting the eyes with green sapphires and the teeth of a skunk. A formidable sight for any oncoming jaywalker.