Custom Motorcycle Exhibit
The Art of the Chopper will run from June 24 through Oct. 2, 2011, at Union Station in Kansas City.
Imagine motorcycles, unlike any you’ve seen before, arrayed on pedestals and resplendent in their sculptural variety. These are extravagant mechanical confections. Like Fabergé eggs with engines, they are exquisite yet hard-boiled.Forget bikers.Think haut moteur.Haut moteur is to motorcycles as haute couture is to apparel.Just as a couturier’s gown goes from runway to rack with each new season-an archetype of fashion unveiled, so do over-the-top motorcycles initiate a process of trickle-down style, which eventually wends its way to mainstream machines on the showroom floor.A chopper is the epitome of haut moteur : a highly conceptualized handmade motorcycle and vehicle of self- expression, balancing the polarized dynamics of flamboyance and minimalism on two wheels. What makes them cool, says guest curator Tom Zimberoff, “is getting something wrong just right..”His discerning eye brings a breath of fresh exhaust to Union Station. Like other idioms of American culture, including jazz, rock ‘n’ roll, or even Hollywood musicals, the chopper has been embraced and transformed by proponents throughout the world. Praise the lowered!Based on Zimberoff’s best-selling books, Art of the Chopper and Art of the Chopper II, this exhibition of thirty choppers integrates each artist’s portrait with other documentary photographs and their motorcycles on display, thereby offering the public a glimpse into a parallel universe populated by the high priests of horsepower, those lane-splitting libertarians on the road to perdition with a lust for life and a consummate sense of style.Their eccentric machines go a long way toward explaining why ordinary bike builders abound but artists are rare.Only artists go beyond imitation to invention, to subordinate the disparate ingredients of a mainstream motorcycle into a singular vision, while blurring orthodox notions about form and function.George Guastello (President & CEO of Union Station) says: “Art of the Chopper is absolutely unique. Anyone who has ever ridden a motorcycle or dreamed of riding one will want to see this collection.We are proud to be able to bring this exhibition to Kansas City. This exhibition is the first of its kind and we expect the community will enjoy this extraordinary experience of motorcycle art.”Billed as “one of the most amazing motorcycle exhibitions ever presented” during its appearance at the William J. Clinton Presidential Library in Arkansas, Art of the Chopper was the first curated contemporary art exhibition consisting entirely of custom motorcycles.