FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Enthusiasts have long enjoyed visiting so-called "bike shows," and many motorcycle shops compete for trophies—not necessarily for speed but for visual appeal. The idea of the motorcycle as art, however, is a more recent conceit, validated by prestigious museums worldwide. The idea of photographing the artists who create this art is new too.
To augment the high-octane popularity of custom motorcycles and Tom Zimberoff’s two best-selling books of the same title, Art of the Chopper is the first comprehensive collection of motorcycles explicitly created as contemporary art and, now, curated for exhibition. Ipso facto, Art of the Chopper and Art of the Chopper II (Bulfinch Press) are two of the best-selling photography books in recent years with 130,000 copies in print. The exhibition is further distinguished by its emphasis on the rôles of individual artists.
By integrating Zimberoff's portraits and and documentary photographs of the artists with the actual motorcycles on display, Art of the Chopper offers a glimpse into a parallel universe populated by the high priests of horsepower, lane-splitting libertarians on the road to perdition with a lust for life and a consummate sense of style. It brings to life the legendary persona underlying each artist’s legerdemain with sheet metal, motors, and paint. As indigenous to America as jazz, rock 'n' roll, or the blues, their art balances the polarized dynamics of flamboyance and minimalism on two wheels. What makes them "cool" is getting something wrong just right. They have earned their pinstripes. This is their Hall of Fame.
The exhibition, having premiered at the William J. Clinton Presidential Library & Museum in Little Rock, Arkansas on September 20, will run through February 8, 2009. It then travels to the Appleton Museum of Art in Ocala, Florida, opening February 20, 2009 and running through May 24, 2009.
• Holy Roller—Mike Brown
• Unicorn from Hell—Chica
• Cook Norton—Dave Cook
• Psychodelic (intended spelling)—Jerry Covington
• Curves and Redneck Vincent—Vince Doll
• Swingshot—Christian Dotson
• Bettie and Six Pack—Rick Fairless
• Odin's Axle—Ron Finch
• Mad Rat—Jerry Graves
• Il Pazzo—Gard Hollinger
• El Guapo—Matt Hotch
• Chain of Mystery—Indian Larry
• Easyrider—Pat Kennedy
• Spike—Shinya Kimura
• Money Shot—Billy Lane
• Stingray—Scott Long
• Easyriders 30th Anniversary—Mondo
• Untitled (2)—Arlen Ness
• Knuckle Under—Mike Pugliese
• Widowmaker—Kirk Taylor
• El Peligroso—Trevelen
• Camel Three—Eddie Trotta
• Lucky—Greg Westbury
• Suzy-Q—Paul Yaffe
• Flying Pan and Disk Drive—Hank Young
All photos © 2003–2008 by Tom Zimberoff
Featured Comment by Duke: "Zimberoff's reputation as a 'motorcycle photographer' is a relatively new one. You should look further into his career and you'll find a body of work that is without parallel. His works have been displayed from places like England's famed National Portrait Gallery to his most recent show at the Clinton Presidential Library. Name them, Yeager, Lennon, Rooney and now Lane and Indian Larry have all been captured in intimate detail. There are minstrels and troubadours and then there is Tom, writing his silent songs, using only a lens and paper. But if you listen to yourself as you look at his photos, you'll find that a song is playing somewhere in the back of your mind.
"By the way: Don't be mad about the picture of Indian Larry. I happen to know that that was one of his most favorite pictures of himself. He loved doing what he did and he died doing what he loved. He died early but he died well. How many of us will be lucky enough to say that we died that well?"