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ARTCRANK Minneapolis - 2012

"ARTCRANK uses creativity to change the way people think about bicycles and grow the cycling community."  - Charles Youel - ARTCRANK Founder

In recent years, Minneapolis has become nationally known as one of — if not the — most bike friendly cities in the U.S. So it’s fitting that Minneapolis is also home to ARTCRANK, a show of bike-inspired poster art that’s making it its own bid for fame in the states and beyond.

The sixth annual ARTCRANK opened at the Traffic Zone Center for Visual Arts this past Saturday in the heart of downtown Minneapolis. The crowds attending the show have grown bigger with each passing year, and Saturday was no exception. Attendance was measured in the thousands, as people filled the first-floor gallery in the historic warehouse for a chance to see and buy handmade posters created by 40 local artists.

Founder Charles Youel stopped by our office to share a few stories and perspectives on this now globally recognized event he started in 2007 at One On One bike shop here in Minneapolis. You wouldn’t know it today, but the first few years it was a challenge to find enough contributing artists to comprise a full exhibit. The most current show saw over a hundred submissions from artists all over the Twin Cities, which were painstakingly narrowed down to 40 finalists who created posters for this year’s show. It’s no easy task to accomplish, but each year ARTCRANK strives to have new artists make up half the roster to keep things fresh and continue the passion for contributing and being one of the chosen few.

The amount of preparation and time involved for setting up each of the ARTCRANK venues across the nine domestic locations and one international is truly mind-boggling. This year in addition to the established venues, the show will be making its way to Austin, LA, and NYC. Three additional cities will require that much more work, but there is a base of physical activity that carries through each show. The simple display system used in all ARTCRANK events was a product of necessity, since Youel needed to be able to fit everything he was going to need in a single suitcase.

Minneapolis is unique in that it’s home base and allows for a little more time to prep and arrange a few special extras like the presence of local food trucks this year outside the show and the documentation efforts of the Jonathan Chapman Photography crew working on various photo time-lapses and stills during the course of the event.  Our support both at the show as well as on the post side of production warrants a big thank you to Justin Meredith, Rachel Roddy, Andrew Cross, Bruce Christianson, Chris Worlow, Jason Braun, Ramon Moreno, Janelle Olson, Eric Schleicher, and Unearthed Music.

After having attended several ARTCRANK shows over the years, it never fails to impress upon me the incomparable combination of bikes and posters. It’s as much a feeling of community, art, the tactile nature of the ink on paper as it is about the pure and simple beauty of the bicycle that is so hard to pinpoint and explain to someone who has never been in attendance.

Charles spoke to this simple beauty: “Riding a bike is a creative expression and an art form that changes every time you throw a leg over the frame. We can ride the same path every day, but it’s always a different experience.”

At some level we all identify with and acknowledge our experiences in life related to other things and people. Maybe it’s somewhere in here that we find a particular piece of art that speaks to us more than others because it relates to what we are and resonates with our own personal history, allowing us to identify, for just a moment, with other like minded folks our innermost life experiences.

No matter how it comes to be, bikes and art connect all of us for at least one evening each year, thanks to ARTCRANK.

Next week will be a follow up post with a selection of stills captured at the ARTCRANK show.  Until then, enjoy the time-lapse video.