Michael Lichter’s ‘Rebel Rousers’ | Motorcycles as Art

Sturgis Inspiration

"World Class" and "Stunning" were a few words that were used to describe Michael Lichter’s 9th Annual Motorcycles as Art Exhibition held during this year’s Sturgis Rally at the Legendary Buffalo Chip. The exhibit entitled ‘Rebel Rousers, Motorcycle Icons that Inspire Us to Ride’ showcased the most important collection of motorcycles and art to ever grace Sturgis and was viewed by thousands of guests. From August 1 through August 8 throngs of bike enthusiasts were captivated by the relics and imagery on display that was curated by celebrated custom motorcycle photographer, Michael Lichter, on hand at the brand new 6500 square foot Lichter Exhibition Hall.

The collection of motorcycles, artwork and memorabilia that was assembled for the 7-day exhibition at the 69th Annual Sturgis Rally, rivaled permanent collections and established museums. It focused on the history of iconic motorcycle imagery that inspired many to ride. Through a poignant review of iconic motorcycles, art and movie memorabilia, fans were reminded of what originally fueled some of their passion for riding.

On display at this year’s exhibit were numerous motorcycles from film including the only surviving Captain America to survive from the film (authenticated by Peter Fonda) and a replica Billy Bike from the 1969 counter culture ultra-hit Easy Rider. Also on display were representations of iconic bikes including an early 1960’s Honda Superhawk similar to the one used in Elvis Presley’s film Roustabout and ridden by Robert M. Persig in the iconic book Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.

Also on display was the original bike ridden by Mickey Rourke in "Harley-Davidson and the Marlboro Man", the original "Renegade" bike ridden by Lorenzo Lamas, replica bikes similar to the Triumph and Harley ridden by Marlon Brando and Lee Marvin in the 1953 landmark motorcycle film, "The Wild One" and the cult sixties TV series "Then Came Bronson". Bikes such as Jesse James’ "Camel Bike", Orange County Choppers "POW Bike" and Indian Larry’s "Wild Child" Biker Build-Off bike were also featured to represent bikes that may one day be considered iconic, to speak to a whole new generation of bikers.

The exhilaration for riding and overall passion for the industry that Lichter has successfully illustrated through his Motorcycles as Art exhibits is tangible. Fans and enthusiasts look forward to Lichter’s yearly presentations and as a result there is an industry appreciation for the exhibits that is demonstrated through the sizeable donations of time, money, and resources. Truly creating a family-like atmosphere, a number of individuals and companies made a variety of contributions to help make this year’s show possible. A few of these contributors include; J & P Cycles, The National Motorcycle Museum & Hall of Fame, the Wheels Through Time Museum, Rocky Mountain Harley-Davidson, Jeff Decker, Lonnie Isam and many others.

Lichter’s show was visited and well-received by the public as well as celebrities and industry aficionados alike. Dee Snider, of Twisted Sister fame, had the opportunity to take in the show at a private viewing Tuesday, August 4. Snider was among a number of celebrities who were able to admire the show; other celebrities included Steven Tyler of Aerosmith, the Doobie Brothers Pat Simmons, guitarist Gilby Clarke and actor Lorenzo Lamas. Other noted attendees included industry magnates John & Jill Parham of J & P Cycles, Bert & Lisa Baker, Donnie Smith, and Dave Perewitz.

Pat Simmons, motorcycle enthusiast and member of the Doobie Brothers, said this "When I walked through the door of the Lichter Exhibition Hall into the "Rebel Rousers" exhibit, I was transported back to that moment in time, when I first realized that I had to have a motorcycle. As soon as I started riding, I knew this would be a part of my life that I would never let go of. All the reasons for my love of the sport, were gathered together in that room; Beautiful amazing machinery, esoteric memorabilia from the early years through the 40’s, 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s, rock ‘n roll music, and the icons who inspired us to ride, and being there with friends and enthusiasts who, like me, were feeling those same emotions. I kept thinking, "It just doesn’t get much better than this! Thanks Michael."

"This year’s exhibit was phenomenal. We had thousands of guests come in to take a look at the exhibit. Being our first year offering this type of event, we never imagined we would have such a good turnout!" exclaims Rod Woodruff, owner of the Buffalo Chip. "This just further establishes Michael Lichter as a true professional and gifted artist and photographer."

This was Lichter’s ninth year as curator for the original Sturgis art and motorcycle exhibition but the first year that he was able to display his work in the brand-new Lichter Exhibition Hall. The 6500 square foot facility was built solely to house the annual uniquely themed exhibition that Lichter curates each year and is found on the grounds of the Legendary Buffalo Chip. Every few years, Michael will include his own photography in the display, as is the plan next year. The hall was a sizeable project for the Buffalo Chip but as day after day of record-breaking crowds gathered to visit the show, all the hard work seemed to pay off.

"The construction of the Lichter Exhibition Hall is the culmination of a strategic vision that we at the Buffalo Chip have had for some time now. This year’s Motorcycles as Art Exhibition was the perfect inaugural event for the facility. The Exhibition Hall is going to see a multitude of such high-caliber industry events and special functions for years to come," explains Woodruff. "We’re elated to have Michael here at The Buffalo Chip permanently."

"I’m ecstatic with the show this year. I’ve been working on it for months and it’s good to see a wide array of people coming and taking it in," said Lichter. "I loved the historic perspective of this years exhibition and am now working on next year’s show."

By melding art and motorcycles together in a way that bikers can genuinely appreciate, Lichter was truly able to capture the iconic essence of the motorcycle genre. He explored the imagery, relics and memorabilia that defined the motorcycle culture and invariably re-fueled our passion for it. We’re already looking forward to Lichter’s next Motorcycles as Art installation during Sturgis Bike Week 2010.

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