Sturgis, S.D., Aug. 4-10—Since 2001, photographer extraordinaire Michael Lichter has curated Motorcycles as Art exhibits during each year’s Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. The past 10 years’ shows have been held in a purpose-built event center next to the east gate of the Sturgis Buffalo Chip, and every year, Michael has kicked off the exhibit by holding a media meet and greet followed by an industry party.
This year’s Motorcycles as Art exhibit was free and open to the public from 10:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m. from Saturday, August 4 through Friday, August 10, and I can tell you that to fully absorb and appreciate each artistic endeavor, I needed to make several return visits. With 7,000 square feet of rolling art and complementary paintings, photographs, and custom-painted helmets adorning the walls, it’s almost impossible to take everything in at one time.
Every year, Michael comes up with a different theme for the exhibit that seems to reflect the zeitgeist of the motorcycle industry. The 2018 theme, Passion Built: Garage to Gallery, was intended to showcase artists and builders that support themselves outside of professional bike-building places of work, yet create motorcycles of professional quality. Each build was distinctly unique, reflecting the builders’ tastes and talents, and you’d be hard pressed to find such a fabulous assortment of bikes anywhere.
Bike builders this year included well-known personalities such as Harley-Davidson’s Vice President of Styling and Design Brad Richards, former Buckcherry drummer Xavier Muriel and former Guns and Roses rhythm guitarist Gilby Clarke, as well as talented builders known within certain motorcycle industry circles, some of whom included Dan Rognsvoog, Jack Deagazio, Skeeter Todd, and Kevin “Teach” Bass. Other builders included Ben Jordan, Ben Zales, Brad Gregory, Ry Seidler, Bryan Lane, Bryan Stalcup, Bryce Schmidt, Carsten Fritzen, Oscar Salas, Chris Callen, Chris Graves, Chris Tope, Christian Newman, Clinton Wallace, Eric Stein, Jeff Holt, Johnny Humphrey, Jon Barwood, Justin McNeely, Mark Shell, Marty Davis, Nick Pensabene, Peter Ballard, Randall Noldge, Rick Pew, Stacy McCleary, Steven Bates, Tim Dixon, Tim Scates, Ulf Musekamp, Walker Pew, Wayne Burgess, and Wil Thomas.
Invited artists were Aaron Kruger, Ana Vivian, Anthony Phillip Festa, Billy spACEy Lyons, Chris Callen, Christopher Galley, Dan Venditto, Frankie Ball Jr., Genevieve Mariani, Grail Ogzewalla, Jimmy Frizzell, Ken Carvajal, Ray Drea, Steve Caballero, Tyler Notthingham, and Willie G. Davidson. Yes, that Willie G.!
Michael’s show has become such an important fixture of the Sturgis rally, well, actually, of the entire motorcycle culture, that, once invited to exhibit, builders and artists often create their entries specifically for the show. And that’s quite a testament to the importance and the impact of the Motorcycles as Art series. Just make sure you don’t miss the 2019 show.