A while back I got an email from Maggie Smith at Quirk gallery in Richmond, Virginia. Essentially inviting us to take part in a group show featuring friends (Taliah Lempert of Bicyclepaintings.com, Kevin Dillard of Demoncats.com) and some other very interesting artists, it was a no-brainer to accept. Initially, I was at once incredibly appreciative to get the invite in the first place, extremely excited to get the chance to put some work in a show, and impressed at the very advanced notice. For the most part, I get contacted by race organizers and event planners say, maybe a whopping two to three weeks before they need things from us, so getting months and months to prepare was a nice luxury.
Anyway, so the upcoming opening gave me a great excuse to finally start on a project that wasn't a bag. Back when we had our shop in Old City (I think this was about 2003-2006; it was right smack in the middle of all the galleries that would take part in First friday), we used to host an opening just about every month. along with this, we would have an annual show where we would invite a bunch of artists to work on a flap or bag and we'd make things along with them, showcasing the collaborations as well as our own lines. After we moved up to Northern Liberties, we had one final bag show. A year later we took part in the Pedal:Reloaded show in Seattle, which was awesome. Since then though, although we've tossed around the idea of having another show, our general workload has been enough to keep us from progressing much past an initial discussion.
One of the things I'd always thought about was working on applique pieces as actual wall hangings, rather than parts of bags. Obviously, I love making artwork for R.E.Load bags, but along with that comes not only dimensional restraints, but also a necessary level of commitment to wear a piece day in and day out, and expose it to the elements and excessive wear and tear. Ideas swirled around my head, but I honestly never got anywhere near starting on a project in the past.
Since Quirk's show - titled "Couldn't We Ride" - is based on art in cycling and comes at the tail end of Richmond's Bike Month, a portrait of a cycling legend seemed fitting. Merckx was pretty much my first though, so I set to work. Overall, the process is identical to what we do on bags, with the exception that since I was dealing with a piece of fabric about twice the size as a Deluxe bag flap, it was a bit harder to manipulate everything under the machine. The image size is about 19.5" x 16.5".
Here is the photo that i decided to work off of for the piece:
Setup really IS everything when doing detailed applique, and this was no different. It took several hours to cut and place all of the elements of text, shading, etc. on the panel. One benefit of a larger format is that all of the small details are that much larger,so for that I was a bit thankful.
One thing I knew would be necessary was a frame that went well with the piece, so I spent a bit of time rummaging around various thrift stores in Philly until I came across the final frame. I think it goes perfectly with the piece, both in its general design and weathered appearance.
I also wound up making a new Music Tribute Series bag for the show, as well as a separate piece that's really more of a study of what our applique machine can do. Its more of a technical study, that is. Gerik made some awesome miniature bags as well as several small framed applique pieces, and Brie made a new beach tote with some intense applique work on it. I'll be grabbing photos of all of those at the show; will post soon!
The opening reception for "Couldnt We Ride" is Friday, July 2nd, and I'll be traveling down to Richmond for the first time ever to check it out and hopefully meet the other artists:
Villin Cycle Works
Bilenky Cycle Works
311 West Broad St
Richmond VA 23220