Art of the Gearhead


Curated by John Hartley

Featuring Charles Coldewey, John Hartley, Bill LeSueur, Brad Sawyer, Eric Swift, David Vest

September 6 - September 28

Reception for the artists
Gallery Night, September 6, 2:00 to 9:00

Curator's Statement

Most people identify me as an artist. While art is at the core of who I am, what you may not know is I am also a gearhead at heart. As my wife can attest, I love going to car and bike shows, strolling through junk and scrap yards for greasy treasure, and watching hours of gearhead shows on the Discovery and Velocity channels.

Why this interest? Growing up in the Midwest, my dad owned an Indian and Parilla motorcycle franchise. Hartley Cycle Shop’s primary mechanic was my grandfather, who also painted and customized bikes. I hung out at the shop all day and had two favorite activities: drinking cold, nickle Coca-Colas and tearing apart the old motorbike engines my dad gave me to keep me occupied and out of his hair. Oil, both paint and motor, runs through my veins.

Art of the Gearhead was inspired by my passion for cycles (pronounced “sickles”) and the popular 1998 Guggenheim exhibition, the Art of the Motorcycle. Almost all of the bikes in the Guggenheim show were factory-produced machines created by professional designers. All of the works at Gallery 414 are the visions of local aritsts who, like me, nurture an inner-gearhead. As with traditional art forms, each artist considered color, form, design and sometimes function when creating the works in this show. Some of the pieces on exhibit are components of bikes or other machines, and others are by-products of the manufacturing process. All of them required a creative thought process and artistic vision to produce.

As an artist, I constantly ask myself, “what is art?” I believe each and every one of us makes artistic decisions every day without ever realizing it. With Art of the Gearhead, I challenge you to also consider what is art.

Although my dad eventually sold the cycle shop, he never lost his passion and fascination with machinery, and neither did I. Building my bikes and putting together this exhibition was a blast, and I know the artists had a great time, too. Thank you to them for participating and to you for re-considering what is art.

John Hartley
Curator and Gallery 414 Director