ARTCRANK: Pedal-powered poster art

ARTCRANK: Pedal-powered poster art
Photo by Caroline Yang for ARTCRANK 2009

Bike and art enthusiasts alike will flock to Shelter Studios this Saturday for the annual ARTCRANK poster exhibit. Now in its fourth year, this popular bike-inspired art show has since morphed into a multi-city phenomenon with corresponding shows in Denver, St. Louis, Portland, San Fran, and Des Moines. 36 talented local artists join in on the fun including Aesthetic Apparatus, Jennifer Davis, Anthem Heart, Broken Crow, Miss Amy Jo -- just to name a mere few; each having created a limited run of prints revolving around the subject of bikes and bicycling. What's better? The prints will be sold for an affordable $30 a pop, with proceeds going to benefit Full Cycle, a non-prof that helps homeless kids build bikes, teaching them maintenance and retail skills along the way. As much about art as it is about community, ARTCRANK's opening party this Saturday is sure to be one part mass bike meet-up and one part colorful art extravaganza.

This week, ARTCRANK director and curator, Charles Youel, filled us in on all the details and shares his favorite places to bike in the Twin Cities... 

The Dressing Room: ARTCRANK started in Minneapolis in 2007 and has since expanded to a number of other cities, where the show features posters created in that host city. How do the Twin Cities stack up against other places as far as the poster art and bike community goes?

Charles Youel: The Twin Cities shows are always the biggest and best, hands down. I'm not exactly impartial, but the creative community here is second to none. And every year, the artists here back that up.  Part of it is certainly the fact that the show started here. In another year or two, I think some of the other cities will be on par with where the Twin Cities show is today. San Francisco, Portland and Denver are all amazing creative communities and bike towns. And I have to say that St. Louis and Des Moines are coming on strong. But by any measure -- the artists, the posters, the audience -- the Twin Cities show is tops.

Why did you choose bike art as your focus when you founded this event? Why do you think people go so crazy for it?

Basically it was a way for me to combine two things I love. When I started ARTCRANK in 2007, I was working at an ad agency, and a lot of my friends and coworkers were art directors and designers and who loved to ride bikes. ARTCRANK gave all of us a chance to channel our creative energy into something we were passionate about, and I think that's one of the reasons that the show has been successful. Another reason is that bikes and posters represent accessibility: One as a means of getting around, the other as an art form. All of the posters in this year's show are selling for $30, so just about everybody who comes to show can afford to take their favorite poster home.  And of course, there's fact that we live in the number one bike city in the U.S. I'm pretty sure that helps.

Screen-printed poster art is a wonderful and affordable way to kick start an art collection! Who are some of the artists you're working with this year and how receptive has the art community in the Twin Cities been to ARTCRANK?

The support of the Twin Cities creative community is a perpetual source of pride and giddiness for me. I got my first look at the posters for this year's show last Saturday, and it was a lot like Christmas. People kept walking in the door with big boxes of bike art goodness for me.  On one hand, it's amazing to have rock stars like Adam Turman, Jennifer Davis, Aesthetic Apparatus, Tonja Torgerson and Broken Crow create posters for ARTCRANK. But I think people who come to the show are going to discover new favorite artists that they've never heard of before. That happens to me every year.

ARTCRANK: Pedal-powered poster art
image courtesy of

What can people expect at this year's show? Will there be any special activities involved?

There are two new wrinkles in this year's show that I'm especially proud of. First, we're encouraging everyone to bike to the opening night party at Shelter Studios. Nice Ride Minnesota, the bike share organization, is providing valet bike parking at the event to make it easy for people to do that, and there will be group rides organized by One On One Bike, Kings Minneapolis and the 30 Days of Biking crew. Also, ARTCRANK and our sponsors are working to raise awareness and cash for a Minneapolis nonprofit organization called Full Cycle. They help homeless kids build up their own custom bikes, and also teach them mechanical and retail skills. We'll have some really cool and easy ways for people to support Full Cycle at the opening night party and throughout the show.

ARTCRANK: Pedal-powered poster art
photo by Caroline Yang for ARTCRANK 2009

Where are your favorite places to bike in the Twin Cities?

For off-road riding, I'm a big fan of the trails at Theodore Wirth Park. I live in South Minneapolis, so it's great to have a trail that I can ride to instead of having to throw the bike on the car and drive someplace. For road rides, there's a long loop that goes by Minnehaha Falls over the Mendota Bridge and into Lilydale, then through the bluffs of St. Paul to the High Bridge. From there, you can hit Summit Avenue to the River Road and into Minneapolis. It's a great way to see St. Paul and Minneapolis in the saddle. And for just plain riding around, I love rolling through downtown Minneapolis at night down to the Stone Arch Bridge. Not a bad place to go after a bike poster show, if you ask me.

Tonight's opening party will run from 7pm-Midnight at Shelter Studios (2112 Broadway St. NE, Suite 150, Mpls) and is free and open to the public. After tonight, the show will move to One on One Bike Shop through May 13th, at which point it will be on display at the Northrup King Building for Art-A-Whirl 2010. For complete information visit

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