Summer night. Ride your bike. Make art. No talent required.
photos by Caroline Yang
At Northern Spark, a one night-celebration of creative culture in Minneapolis that begins on Saturday, June 9, ARTCRANK and Locus Architecture will offer cyclists on The Midtown Greenway a chance to create one-of-a-kind Tread Prints using nothing but a little pedal power and imagination.
“We developed the Tread Print concept as part of the ARTCRANK Minneapolis show a couple years ago,” says Locus partner Wynne Yelland. “Not everyone is an artist, but almost everyone rides a bike. Tread Prints let people create their own works of art just by riding across a sheet of paper.”
To make a Tread Print, riders of all ages transfer colored chalk from their bike tires to a sheet of poster paper. Combine a unique tread pattern with techniques ranging from straightforward riding to wheelies, bunny-hops and skids.
The idea of using bikes to create works of art rings true to ARTCRANK founder Charles Youel. “To me, riding a bike is a form of creative expression. A person’s riding style is a reflection of their personality, and you see that come out in every Tread Print.”
The Tread Print “studio” will be located on the Midtown Greenway at Elliot Ave. S., just west of the Freewheel Bike Midtown Bike Center. Volunteers will help riders create their own prints, and artists will have the option of taking their posters with them or contributing them to an open-air gallery for all to see and enjoy. Neenah Paper is donating the paper for the project, and anyone who wants to make a Tread Print can do so free of charge.
Saturday, June 9 — 6:30pm – 9:30pm
Photos + Video
ARTCRANK is a show of bicycle-inspired poster artwork that introduces people to talented local artists and sends them home with affordable, original works of art. Since its 2007 debut in Minneapolis, ARTCRANK has held shows in bike-friendly cities in the US and UK, including Portland, San Francisco, St. Louis, Denver and London. ARTCRANK uses creativity to change how people think about bicycles and grow the cycling community.
Last week, I jumped in a Ford pickup truck with our pal Richard Brown; friend, artist, woodworker, sailer, and all around knowledgeable guy that runs Lamprey Pass Workshop. (Summer Friday idea: grab breakfast at Moose & Sadie’s, stop by to ogle Richard’s shop tools and crafted furniture, and finish up the morning renting a kayak for descending Upper St. Anthony Falls in the lock. All on the same street corner.)
Richard and I hopped on I-94 and headed into eastern Wisconsin after a stop at the cabinetry hardware store to check out some cast gate latches. We were on our way to visit a Locus and Lamprey Pass renovation collaboration from a few years back. The prairie grasses have filled in nicely, the birds were out, and the house looked pastoral – just as intended. Solar thermal panels heat the water, a wind generator provides electricity, custom metal shingles and a standing seam roof provide a long lasting enclosure to give peace of mind to our clients.
Nature provides the view and it’s a stunner. An unbeatable place to kick off the work boots and enjoy a selection from Rush River Brewing.
Bicycle Center Space in St. Paul’s Union Depot
A few months back, after a meeting in the North Loop, we wandered into One On One Bicycle Studio. Gene Oberpriller was in the back, and we handed him a copy of a Request for Proposal (RFP) for the Bicycle Center Operator at the Union Depot in St. Paul. “You should do that, it’s perfect for you,” we told him. “You run the shop, we’ll do the interior architecture.” With Gene’s signature illegible expression, he thanked us, said he’d take a look, told us it looked interesting, and set the RFP on the counter. As we left, I imagined 24 hours would find it buried under merch catalogs, oily rags, and a box of fixed gear hubs.
A month later, about three days to deadline, Gene sent us an email, “Let’s do that St. Paul thing!” Two coffee fueled nights, multiple drafts passed between our office and their shop, a few beers thrown in for luck, and delivery of the proposal via bike (of course) led us to three months of silence from Ramsey County. That ended this week.
Ramsey County Regional Railroad Authority selected One On One to design and operate the bicycle center within the Depot; the entire complex is being renovated as a pedestrian, bike, shared car, light rail, bus, and train transit hub. We did a walk through with the One On One team last week and gone was the deadpan expression. Gene smiled, he even offered a discrete high-five – but a Locus logo on the sleeves of One On One’s black Ts was a non-starter. Look for One On One’s new Locus designed space in 2013.
My kids and I were streaming The Game on Netflix the other day. David Fincher favors gloom, most shots were in the shadows. My internet connection is decent enough, but the blacks were poorly rendered, the resolution choked by the information available in the stream. “Can you believe this?’ I grumbled to my boys. “No big deal,” one of them mumbled, unfazed.
Why the acceptance of the flight from quality in the past 50 years? MP3s pale to the range of CDs and reel-to-reel tape, and for some, vinyl. Watching a movie on a smart phone offers little pleasure, even if you can watch anywhere at any time. YouTube content is damn near universally dreadful on every level (to paraphrase The The, anyone can be a filmmaker, so everyone has to try). Food – take out, fast, pre packaged (“value-added”), half baked, pre-prepared, instant, supersized, fun – lumbers into our pantries, replacing the time-consuming yet experiential process of learning to cook while preparing and eating home-cooked meals. Even games have devolved towards simplicity to suit mobile platforms and our diminishing attention span. Angry Birds is barely more sophisticated than Atari’s 1976 Breakout. I’m not nostalgic for the old days. I’ll admit some dependence on my smart phone, but wasn’t the future supposed to be more convenient and better?
Design in the past half century has focused on making goods and services more accessible, cheap, immediately gratifying, and desirable, yet so often briefly fashionable and disposable. In our profession, for the vast majority of buildings, aesthetic accessibility and value has translated to banal architecture. Home sizes have swelled in parallel to the American obesity rate, yet are commonly devoid of any shred of detail. Craftsmanship has virtually disappeared, as homeowners and businesses shift their spending to colorful or technological baubles meant to counteract the blandness of their spaces. The architectural version of the “race to the bottom”?
Minneapolis’ mayor R. T. Rybak recently announced Green Homes North, an initiative to build 100 healthy green homes on vacant lots in tornado-ravaged north Minneapolis. This is an excellent opportunity to test the vision and capacity of designers and public officials. Are they daring and smart enough to design and build prototypes that balance design excellence, community support, sustainable technologies, contextual influences, responsible materials and processes, and the fortitude to last 100+ years in Minneapolis’ punishing climate, all without overly relying on gap subsidies and nostalgic housing types? Past examples aren’t terribly encouraging, but I’m optimistic a well placed investment in capital and intelligence will set an example towards a better future for this neighborhood and others that follow its example.
Think Blue Ray, not streaming.
Locus' SAM would look great in north Minneapolis