Opening this Saturday in the Mission's Nowheresville SF gallery is an eclectic group show featuring the paintings, drawings, watercolors and mixed-media creations of several local artists and cyclists including Alexis Knudsen, Chris McNally and Casey Robertson. Works by gallery owner Paul Urich and curator Stevil Kinevil will also be highlighted in the month-long exhibit co-presented by the Colorado-based bicycle company Swobo.
I've personally known Stevil for several years, as we frequent the same social circles within the Bay Area cycling community. In addition to his status as a beloved dark horse ambassador of cycling with a wry sense of humor, he's a prolific writer, artist, and "an unashamed and unapologetic Germanphile" -- hence the colorful title of the show: Fahrrad Verrückter Künst. It's "a continuation of my appreciation for German Expressionism, my wife and her family's heritage ... and because I think anything with an umlaut looks cool," Stevil commented via email.
Fahrrad Verrückter Künst, which loosely translates to "Bicycle Derelict Art," has its roots in Stevil's passion for cycling culture and artists who work outside of the mainstream.
"I spent a few years employed as an art installer. Our clientele included museums, renowned galleries and the Bay Area's elite. I was dismayed to find that in all of my time employed in that profession, only a few clients (private collectors specifically, as opposed to the museums or galleries) would purchase pieces of art because they happened to genuinely love them.
In all of the other cases, people were buying art that their consultants would tell them to, because the artist was the flavor of the month, or because their neighbors had bought a piece. It was all very "keeping up with the Joneses." Suffice to say, at least in that regard, the work is 'outsider art,' because we're not on the status quo's radar, which frankly, after having seen that side of it, I'm perfectly happy with."
Kinevil's been kicking around the idea for this show for at least ten years. "Starting back when I was a bicycle messenger in San Francisco in the '90s, it was with some regularity I've submitted work for consideration to shows happening in conjunction with bicycle-related events: the Bicycle Messenger World Championships, The Bicycle Film Festival, etc. And without exception, my work was rejected because "it didn't have anything to do with bikes."
Despite the fact that he had committed himself "to nearly every facet of the bicycle world for over half my life," Stevil realized that his ideas of what constituted "bicycle art" was different from his colleagues -- so he decided to define his unique artistic connections to cycling through his own curatorial lens.
"It was because of those interactions that I was inspired to curate and take part in this show, which is work made by cyclists -- all of whom are equally committed to their art lives as they are their bike lives, but consciously maintain a distinct separation between the two. The result is a show of work made by cyclists, that has visually nothing to do with bikes yet at the same time, because of who made it, has everything to do with them."
Swobo's president, Peter Discoe, "was very enthusiastic about supporting [the show] in whatever way [he] could. Like me, he sees the bike world as a very myopic one. This is our opportunity to hopefully expand people's perceptions of who the brand is and the fact that cyclists are capable at being multifaceted... Plus I think they're also buying the beer."
Fahrrad Verrückter Künst opens at 6pm on February 8, 2014 at Nowheresville SF (483 14th Street, San Francisco, CA) and runs through March 31, 2014. For more information visit swoboradio.com. On Twitter: @NowheresvilleSF