A few months ago I was talking with Stevil Kinevil about this and that. During the conversation he mentioned that he wanted to do an art show with artists that are cyclists, but the art will have nothing to do with cycling. That’s pretty much all it took for me. “Let’s do it”. Truth be told, we’re not doing much except for cheerleading and buying the beer. But that’s beside the point.
It may be strange to some that a bike company is supporting a non-bike event. There is a reason though, even if it is a bit selfish.
Last week an article in our local paper came out announcing the closure of three galleries in downtown Fort Collins. I should say, three of the latest. Not long ago, our photographer was forced to shut down his gallery for the same economic reasons. And there have been others.
Fort Collins isn’t alone in this and galleries large and small create the proving and exposure space for legions of artists. Without these spaces, artists face a much more daunting task of pursuing their art. They must now become marketers, finance professionals and sales people and pursue non-artistic endeavors . Is it then no wonder we see a rise of commercial art that speaks only to what sells and not to what sings in the artist’s heart? (kinda sounds like the bike industry don’t you think?)
When we no longer value the art, we no longer value the artist.
Creating art is a skill. It is a talent. For some, it’s a calling. I don’t see a difference between paying a lawyer a fee to pursue a trademark and asking Stevil to create an original piece of art. I’ll even say that what Stevil does is harder than what my lawyer does. It is certainly more creative. Pay attention online however, and I think you’ll notice the rise in exploitation of artists whether by poaching content or undervaluing creativity.
Art is important and I think we are forgetting that.
So here is how it relates to me. A community that values art also values the things that are important to us at Swobo: Creativity, freethinking, self-reflection and a willingness to try and do things differently.
You see, I don’t really think of other bike brands as competition. Sure, we want to be competitive and create awesome products, but in the end, we’re all squabbling over a small piece of the pie. I see my biggest competitor as our cultural mindset. One that says, “drive a car”. GM and Ford are my competitors really.
So I want a world where folks are open to thinking differently and I believe art helps us get there.
Next Saturday, we won’t be showcasing or glorifying the bicycle. There is enough of that already and done so much better than I could. Instead, we’re showcasing and glorifying the artist. The fact that all the artists also ride bikes just means we should glorify them more. These folks are part of the tribe and are at the forefront of creating a world where the bicycle may be more than an afterthought to society at large.
So raise a glass to the artist. Toast them, cherish them and if you can’t come out with us Saturday, head out to your own local gallery and explore something new.