Arts and History

Mexican Artist Promotes Cycling in Biggest Outdoor Sculpture Series in New York City

Mexican Artist Promotes Cycling in Biggest Outdoor Sculpture Series in New York City
Bernadine Racoma

New York City’s biggest outdoor sculpture exhibit started last Tuesday and will last until September 30. This means that hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers and visitors will see this huge outdoor sculpture series for several months. The one-man show is a creation of 82-year old Mexican artist, Gilberto Aceves Navarro. He hopes that this exhibition will encourage more people to have more interest in urban art and use their bikes more often to help the city become healthier and greener.

Huge steel bikes

The installation can be seen on the 16-kilometer (10-mile) bike route that links lower Manhattan, downtown Brooklyn and the promenades along the river. The 122 large steel sculptures are part of the urban art exhibit entitled “Las Bicicletas.”

These are not your ordinary bikes. These works of art each weighs around 550 kilos or 1,200 pounds. The bikes are about six to eight feet high. The representation is disproportionate, with small cyclists exhibiting different poses on very large bikes.

According to Emily Colasacco, New York City’s art director for the NY Department of Transportation, this one-man sculpture series is the biggest outdoor exhibition that was put up in New York City ever. She told the media that the exhibit is a great chance to highlight the waterfront bike lanes and bike infrastructure of the city, as well as give prominence to urban art.

Gilberto Aceves Navarro

Aceves Navarro is a sculptor and painter from Mexico. He is also a professor at the Academy of San Carlos and the Escuela Nacional de Artes Plásticas. He is a renowned Mexican artist who had created several murals that are found in the United States, Japan and his native country, Mexico. Aceves Navarro also had mounted about 200 individual exhibits.

He was six years old when he started drawing bicycles and the first of his Las Bicicletas series was mounted in Mexico City in 2008. The 75-bicycle sculpture exhibit he mounted in Mexico City’s Alameda Park were placed end to end. People that came to see them usually touched and tapped the iron bicycles, which made the sonorous sound of a gong.

Focus on the bicycles

He said that he wanted to create new conditions for people to use bicycles more than they use cars, as he finds them terrible and harmful. The artist hopes that it will have the same impact on New Yorkers as it did to Mexicans, although the exhibit is different. He also explained that he wanted the bicycles to really stand out that is why he made the cyclists smaller.

According to his son, Juan Aceves, the sculptures were designed to meet the hurricane-resistant regulations of New York City. This meant that the material used was 50 percent thicker and the sculpture pieces four times heavier. He also announced that another urban show of bicycles will be mounted in 2015 in Chicago. In 2016 they are scheduled to mount the same Las Bicicletas exhibit in Denmark.

Image credit: With permission from NYC – Department of Transportation

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