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How do I love bicycles in art? Let me count the ways

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Amid piles of PVC pipes, skeins of wire and heaps of old bicycle rims, something special is forming. Named "108 Prayer Wheels for Peace," it is a project drawing from several sources, all promoting optimism and joy in art.

When everything comes together, the sculpture of 108 decorated bike rims will be affixed to a structure 15 feet tall on the rooftop of the Art Mill building in the Depot Arts District. It will be visible from Colorado Avenue and Interstate 25.

The structure is a collaborative effort toward ROLL 2007, the third annual bicycle art show (formerly called the All Dimensions Bicycle Art Show), opening at Smokebrush Gallery on July 6.

That First Friday, the completed rim sculpture will be unveiled to the public. Amy Seltzer, curator of the ROLL 2007 art show and organizer of freehub.us, a bike-art Web site, worked with Smokebrush co-owner Kat Tudor in creating a piece of art involving bicycles, prayer wheels and the number 108.

Inspired by a similar display in Montreal, Seltzer contacted Tudor about building a sculpture with the help of area kids. Donated rims were decorated by students from Children's ARK, the Pikes Peak Arts Festival and FutureSelf.

Tudor says the rims will be mounted in a way that will allow them to spin, like Tibetan prayer wheels. According to Tudor, 108 is "a powerful and sacred number," with a long history of mathematical and spiritual meanings. Several world religions, especially Hinduism, recognize it as unique, and it's also quite present throughout yoga.

"There are 108 stitches on a baseball," adds collaborator Tim Eckert, who built the Smokebrush Toaster and was commissioned for the prayer wheel project. Eckert applied the semi-perfect (which, by the way, means that it is equal to the sum of its divisors) number into the geometry of the sculpture, creating a stable pyramid.

Seltzer has been expanding her bicycle art show since she launched it three years ago, after realizing she wasn't the only one captivated by bicycles in art. The combination of a geometric bicycle paired with an organic human body is "a big challenge as an artist," she says. A challenge so peculiar, though, that she thought she was one of the only people interested by it. Turned out, she was wrong.

"People who did bike art didn't know other people did it," she says, having made it her mission to gather the community of bike artists together for an annual show. Since then, the affair has expanded to 75 international artists, with many returning contributors including New York artist Taliah Lempert, whose newest works including "Arone's Bike #2" were done while blindfolded.

The criteria for this show: anything that "address(es) the image of the bicycle," says Seltzer. Bicycle lamps, wooden bike sculptures and bike photography will be on display. And while there aren't exactly 108 pieces in the show, it should be at least semi-perfect.

ROLL 2007

Smokebrush Gallery, 218 W. Colorado Ave., #102

Opening July 6 and August 3, both 5 to 8 p.m.

Runs through August 11

Hours: Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, noon to 5 p.m.

Free; call 444-1012 or visit smokebrush.org for more information.

  • How do I love bicycles in art? Let me count the ways

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