The Bike Arch: recycled art

Destined for desert infamy?

The Bike Arch is a sculpture made from 240 bicycles collected from the Sonoma dump and Recyclery, a non-profit organization in San Rafael, California that rebuilds bikes.

Mark Grieve created the piece after Larry Harvey, founder of Burning Man, asked him if he was interested in creating a piece for the entrance to Center Camp, an area where people park a lot of bikes.

A carpenter by trade, Grieve had been painting and drawing since he was a boy. He had also built large-scale projects in the desert for almost a decade. Metal was a totally new medium for him, however.

Grieve was inspired to make the piece after a trip to Arches National Park in Utah and by observing nature. The arch took about four months to complete and was a collaborative effort between Grieve and Ilana Spector, a former lawyer and solar energy company president turned welder.

"The way ants make bridges and also the way birds make nests; there's a similar quality to the [Bike Arch]," Grieve said. "It feels very organic, almost insect-like or some sort of thing like a bird does generation after generation. It was just real intuitive. I don't know about inspiring; I think it was more of an exercise than an inspiration."

"It feels very organic, almost insect-like or some sort of thing like a bird does generation after generation."

The goal of the Bike Arch, according to Grieve, "is to create an object that gives a moment of joy -- a moment of awe, a moment of joy, a moment of fun. What I was going for was an atmosphere of the bikes launching itself up into an arch. When one neighbor told me that it looked like the circus, and the other that it looked darling, I felt like I was on the right track. If I could make the bicycles not look like bicycles -- if it looks like some sort of other world or geological phenomenon, that's a worthy effect -- that's taking an inherent beauty of something and transforming it into some kind of transcendent thing."

The Bike Arch was donated by Grieve to Black Rock Arts Foundation. It will live out at the ranch in the Nevada desert, where Grieve hopes it becomes akin to the "Cadillac Graveyard," a pilgrimage site of sorts, but for avid bicyclists.

© BikeRadar 2007

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