ARTCRANK 2013 preview: "Even the ugliest bike is still pretty cool," says Adam Turman
Since being founded in Minneapolis in 2007, ARTCRANK has spread across the country and the world. At first, the show's specific angle -- posters inspired by biking -- might seem like a gimmicky way of capitalizing on the recent resurgence of cycling. But after spending a little time with the artists and organizers who make it happen, it soon becomes clear that the "art" and "crank" of ARTCRANK are linked together by more than just a name.
ARTCRANK bills itself as a "a poster party for bike people." Saturday's event at the Grainbelt Brewery Warehouse will showcase original, limited-edition posters centered on biking in Minneapolis from more than 40 artists, all local and selected out of hundreds of applicants.
Like any good celebration, there will be beer (from Widmer Brothers, with all proceeds benefiting Springboard for the Arts) and grub (food trucks will be onsite). The opening reception looks to top last years' attendance record of over 4,000 fans.
It's sure to be a packed house, but that's nothing new. According to the show's founder, Charles Youel, it's been that way since the first show.
"We expected maybe 50 people to show up," Youel says. "We got 500. I think the only thing we weren't prepared for was that the show would be a success."
Adam Turman was a part of that first crowded event. "The place was hot and sweaty and crazy," he says. "There were TV stations and press outside."
As an illustrator and designer working in the Twin Cities since 2003, Turman's distinctive style of mixing elements of colorful vintage pinup posters with Minnesota influences is ubiquitous around town. He's been making art inspired by bikes since 2005. Since ARTCRANK started, it has become an increasingly prominent part of his repertoire. He's been in every "ARTCRANK MSP" show since the beginning.
When asked about the growing popularity of ARTCRANK, Turman acknowledges the role of the media ("bicycles are kinda big right now") and passing trends like the Minneapolis "rivalry" with Portland, but he also points out something that's been clear to everyone involved all along: Bikes and people who ride them just tend to be pretty cool.
"People who ride bikes -- at least in my experience -- are into art, they're into culture, and they're into beer," he says. "Art and bikes, a bike being a piece of art itself, these things kind of go hand in hand. Even the ugliest bike is still pretty cool."
ARTCRANK MSP 2013 poster, Always Take the High Road
And just as art can be inspired by bikes, in turn bikes can imitate art. Amy Jo Hendrickson is a graphic designer and screenprinter who runs a storefront studio, Who Made Who, in northeast Minneapolis. Her style is that of a punk-rock engraver, and her dark-yet-whimsical posters showcase gigs all over the Twin Cities.
She's been an ARTCRANK vet for six years, and gets around on a stylish set of wheels.
"I have an aqua blue Electra Superdeluxe Cruiser that people like to say match my posters," Hendrickson says.
Getting around this way does more for her art than simply fitting in with their aesthetic. Hendrickson sees it almost as a part of the creative process.
"There's a freedom with riding a bike that's very similar to making artwork," she says. "You choose different directions when you travel by bicycle, which allows you to see your surroundings differently. Not to mention all that fresh air clears your head and stimulates great ideas."
ARTCRANK MSP 2013 poster, Things that Fly.
Amy Jo Hendrickson
Beyond celebrating a part of many artists' daily lives, ARTCRANK allows a rare public forum for designers to show off their personal work.
"It brings out a lot of people, especially designers who don't put their signatures on a lot of their work," Turman says of the show. "If someone does something for Target that's beautiful, you'd never know who did it. You might know the company, but not the actual designer."
As it so happens, a former art director for Target will be showcasing in this year's exhibition for the first time. David Schwen has worked for several prominent ad agencies in addition to the retail giant, and you've probably seen some of his designs without even knowing it. His style is minimal, witty, and sharp.
Schwen first got involved with ARTCRANK this summer, designing the posters for their REELS X WHEELS festival featuring four short films about bikes. Though he had attended the party in past years, this was his first time submitting a design, though it probably won't be the last.
"I'll definitely try to keep in it," he says. "It's already been pretty exciting seeing it get put together."
His poster this year, No Hands, is a minimal interpretation of riding down the bright green bike lanes of downtown Minneapolis. It's an experience many at the show will probably be able to relate to.
"If you're a creative, everyone's into bikes at least a little bit," Schwen says.
ARTCRANK MSP 2013 poster, No Hands.
Some people involved with the show, including its founder Youel, go beyond just being into bikes into seeing biking itself as a thing of beauty.
"Riding a bicycle is an act of creative expression, an art form that changes every time a person goes for a ride," Youel says. "I can ride the same streets every day, but it's always a different experience, and I see the world in a different way."
"I'm always amazed that so many different designers can come up with so many different takes on the same thing," Turman says.
This is the magic of ARTCRANK. Through focusing on one simple machine, local artists are able to create a combination that is both truly unique and seemingly effortless. That's a rare thing, and not to be missed.
IF YOU GO:
Grainbelt Brewery Warehouse
77 13th Ave. NE, Minneapolis
5 p.m. to midnight Saturday, April 6
After the opening, the show will move to One on One Bicycle Studio (117 Washington Ave N., Minneapolis) for an extended run from April 11 to May 4.
Check out page three for a time-lapse of last year's show and a first look at more posters after the jump!
ARTCRANK MSP 2013 poster.
ARTCRANK MSP 2013 poster, "It Must Be Love."
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