Richmond Art Center Richmond Art Center

Press Release: Countersteer: Custom Motorcycles as Self-Expression

Countersteer Defined:

1. Motorcycling: To initiate a turn by steering opposite to the direction desired.
2. Common: To steer against the tide of norms and expectations.

August 8, 2019: The Richmond Art Center invites visitors to the upcoming exhibition Countersteer: Custom Motorcycles as Self-Expression. Countersteer explores personal expression through the medium of the motorcycle.

From their beginnings as motorized bicycles, motorcycles have inspired creative modification, specialization and personalization. A motorcycle can be a commuter, long-distance tourer, track racer, back country explorer, drag racer and more, but when motionless, a motorcycle becomes an aesthetic object. Countersteer will consider those studied surfaces, hand-crafted parts and unique modifications as artistic self-expression.

“Motorcycles have captivated imaginations and inspired creativity for generations,” says Philip Linhares, co-curator. “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.”

The exhibition includes motorcycles from 1909 to the present, re-imagined and re-worked by Bay Area artist-engineer-designers. Each motorcycle explores artistic and personal expression through customizing this American icon. Motorcycle culture and spirit will be explored further through paintings and sculptures included in the exhibition, each by artists inspired by their own motorcycling experience and exploits.

The 12 bikes on display will range from a 1909 Harley-Davidson to a Parts-bin Special assembled by a team of artists to compete in the Annual Dirt Bag Challenge. Each machine represents a unique approach to out running, out maneuvering or out shining the field of stock motorcycles. Contributors include Bay Area builders from the famous to the anonymous including Arlen Ness, Cory Ness, Jimmy Kilroy, John Buddenbaum and Jul Neimier.

“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?”

Countersteer is guest co-curated by Phil Linhares and Danny Aarons.

About the Curators:
Phil Linhares, retired Chief Curator of Art, Oakland Museum, 1990-2011

Danny Aarons, arts promoter, collector and motorcycle enthusiast

Exhibitions and events are free and open to the public.

Countersteer: Motorcycles as Self-Expression will be on view September 10 – November 22.

The Countersteer Opening Reception will be held Saturday, September 7, 5:00 – 7:00 PM.

Curators’ Talk and Gallery Walkthrough will be held Saturday, September 21, 11:00 AM. Space is limited, please RSVP.

For more on Countersteer:

Image: (purple) John Martin, Chopper (cardboard sculpture), 2010; (red) Jimmy Kilroy, Ducati 750 Monster, 1999/2002; (yellow) Cory Ness, Double Engine Bagger, 2015; (blue) Jul Neimier, Rickman-Triumph, 1960s/2006-2019. 


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Richmond Art Center
2540 Barrett Avenue
Richmond, CA 94804-1600


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