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As the wheel turns

Switching gears, let me tell you about a sweet little show in West Philadelphia at Klein Art Gallery. “Neighborhood Bike Works” is one of the periodic love fests Klein organizes to celebrate the goings on of a community organization.

This show is devoted to “Neighborhood Bike Works,” a fix it up group with outreach to children. NBW has after school programs and classes and offers kids a chance to “earn a bike” through a work program. The bike group donated used bike parts for the artists to create works of art, sales of which will benefit NBW.

It’s a big show with 40+ artists, most represented by one work. And while assemblage art tends to be a little sad in affect, some works, like Randall Cleaver’s “Time Machine II” (shown at top) have charms that override.

Cleaver’s moving sculpture — the entire clock face spins round, connected to a bike chain that pulls it — evokes grandfather clocks, fob watches and family traditions in which bikes, watches and clocks pass from one generation to another.

Ebullient is the word for Sam Maitin’s “Molly’s Bike,” (left) in which primary colors splashed on and around bike parts create a cheery graveyard dig of nuts and bolts.

Charles Barbin’s “Bike Parts II” (right) is a great collage painting that weaves together abstract imagery (with very nice colors, line and shapes) and a clunky old bike chain. It works for me.

Carol Cole’s “Velocity,” (below) a cast paper arrow which shows two interlocking bike gears is nicely reductive.

I’ve seen many Cole works over time and I’m a fan. This piece with its implied dynamic of movement and speed — as well as its implication of community (remember the two interlocking gears) captures the spirit of NBW perfectly.

If there was one piece I wanted to take home with me it was Warren Muller’s “Untitled” light piece (right). Its no nonsense, chrome-shiny affect is humble and appealing.

Finally, Burnell Yow!’s “Conversation,” (below) which made me smile, is a decoupage job, the two bike parts covered with torn comic book scraps held in place under a shiny shellac coating.

You can’t see in this mini picture but the two pieces are connected by one bike chain coming out of one open tube and going right into the other open tube. Which is how it is with conversations — two people filling each other up while being emptied at the same time connected by a single thread.


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