Bicycling as Performance Art

Today Anne and I participated in our first organized bicycle ride of the season. This was one of Trailnet’s community rides, the Art and Tweed Ride. Trailnet sponsors two types of rides, their Fun Club rides, which are all about the miles and going fast and lots of spandex. Their first Fun Club ride is tomorrow and we’ll try to make that one too. Their community rides are different. First, they are free. They are also smaller and more off beat and they usually also include a theme. Today’s ride had two themes, both of them art related. We toured five art museums, the list is below. We also performed art, by donning costumes made of wool and tweed, and dressed in the finest of knickers and caps we rode about town, inspired by English society. We wore spandex, but kept it under wraps.

  • Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum
  • Saint Louis Art Museum
  • Contemporary Art Museum Saint Louis
  • The Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts
  • World Chess Hall of Fame

The ride began and ended at the Kemper, where we were treated to a tour of the Georges Braque exhibit, which ends this month. Braque was a contemporary and friend of Picasso and a fellow Cubist painter. He has never been as famous as Picasso. Picasso is on exhibit at the Chicago Art Institute, while the Kemper is Washington University’s art museum. Braque was never as flamboyant as Picasso and he stayed married. He also died much earlier, during World War II.

Our next stop was the slammer, the Saint Louis Art Museum. We climbed art hill and were met at the bicycle racks by our guide. We never actually made it into this art museum. Maybe they were worried about sweaty bicyclist stinking up their museum. Don’t they know that wool absorbs sweat? The real reason was that we did not have time to go in. Instead we were led outside to its new wing, which is scheduled to open in June. The new wing will be dedicated to contemporary art and of course, free to all.

The Pulitzer and the Contemporary Art Museum adjoin each other, so I’ll count these two as one long stop. The main exhibit at the Pulitzer was the PROGRESS of LOVE, by Tamara H. Schenkenberg. This extensive exhibit revolves around a single letter, a breakup letter. It looked interesting, but we only had twenty minutes there, so it was hard to take it all in. The exhibit at the Contemporary was Jeremy Deller’s Joy in People. This show was a collected works piece, very British and very political, pro-Labor, anti-Tory. As an aside, we all know that Margaret Thatcher died this week. She was instrumental in the closing of many British mines. This was a big theme in Deller’s show. Every Saturday night BBC plays the highest selling song that week in Britain. This week’s winning song is Ding Dong the Witch is Dead, from the Wizard of Oz.

Our final stop was the Chess Hall of Fame. Here the main exhibit was Bill Smith’s Beyond the Humanities. His works are delicate sculptures that involve lots of thin wire and faint colored lights. They are best viewed in the dark. Most of the tour was watching the show’s signature piece in pitch black darkness, when a crash and the breaking of glass was heard. The museum’s guide quickly switched on the lights and there in the corner, on the floor was one of his other pieces. Whoops! We departed the tour here and went to a new Lebanese restaurant in the CWE for lunch. I declined the hookah and had a beer instead.

Leave a Reply