Crowd shot at the first ArtCycle event Feb. 28, 2009, at Heliotrope and Melrose.… (Cassandra Pruett )
Los Angeles has long been synonymous with traffic jams and exhaust fumes, but a vocal cycling subculture is rising fast, creating a handful of increasingly important bike-related events aimed at getting Angelenos to embrace their streets as public cultural spaces. From the city's annual Bike Week, a community event-filled celebration of pedal power, to CicLAvia, an event that shuts down 71/2 miles of streets stretching from East Hollywood to Highland Park to give free reign to as many as 100,000 cyclists, L.A.'s bike scene continues to step out of its peripheral existence and fuse with local culture.
Now in its third year, East Hollywood ArtCycle, set for Saturday, joins together the neighborhood's burgeoning bike scene with its independent art community. The goal is to bring awareness to the need for more neighborhood recreational public spaces. More than a dozen galleries, theaters, creative venues and artist studios will open up to both hard-core cyclists and casual riders, while individual artists, vendors and musicians will line Santa Monica Boulevard from Vermont to Virgil avenues.
"The purpose of ArtCycle is to profile the art community in East Hollywood," said the event's founder, Jennifer Moran, a longtime area resident and artist. "It's an art crawl, but the geography is too big, so cycling made sense."
While Moran herself is not much of a biker, it was important to her to include the biking community, which has a strong neighborhood presence. The Bike Kitchen, a nonprofit educational organization committed to promoting the bicycle, along with community activists Stephen and Enci Box, longtime champions of cycling rights in Los Angeles who are intimately involved in ArtCycle, have helped make East Hollywood a more bike-conscious neighborhood.
Lacking the resources of more established local art events such as the monthly Downtown Art Walk, Moran describes ArtCycle as an artist-led DIY affair that contains an element of street theater. A dozen independent artists will showcase and sell their creations, while others will lead workshops and how-to demonstrations. A children's Art Park will let kids create their own works to take home. Local artist and cyclist Ceres Madoo, who has been involved with the event since its inception, will lead a pinch clay pot workshop for kids. "ArtCycle is a place to play, create and explore," said Ceres.
The day will also feature the Barnsdall "Art Your Pedal" Kinetic Ride, a playfully dubbed "miniature Burning Man festival on wheels" that invites participants to bedazzle their bikes and helmets and ride together as a parade. Attendees will also get the chance to pick up a paintbrush in the East Hollywood Outdoor Painting Contest, an on-site competition that will challenge both amateur and professional artists to create works of art with the neighborhood as their inspiration.
Musical performances include local rockabilly acts Luis and the Wildfires and Don Juan y Los Blancos, as well as electro-pop bands Gold Fields and the Neighborhood.
Three bicycle tours will depart from the intersection of Santa Monica and Madison Avenue at various times during the fair to lead cyclists on rides that highlight different aspects of the neighborhood's art scene. The ArtCycle Gallery Ride will take participants to Synchronicity Space, La Luz de Jesus, Weekend Gallery and Barnsdall Art Park, among other galleries, to check out current exhibits. The Hollywood History Tour will travel west along Santa Monica Boulevard to landmarks such as the bowling alley in "The Big Lebowski," Hollywood Forever Cemetery and Paramount Pictures. The Architectural Ride, hosted by BikeHaus, a cycling group dedicated to unearthing L.A.'s Modern architecture, will lead riders to famous area monuments created by Frank Lloyd Wright, Richard Neutra, Craig Ellwood, Lloyd Wright and others.
Moran emphasized that although the event centers on bringing together art and cycling in East Hollywood, it also aims to spotlight the need for more parks in the community of nearly 60,000. The East Hollywood Neighborhood Council, which helps fund ArtCycle, has been actively trying to persuade the city to convert a 4.2-acre storage space, across from the historic Cahuenga Library and used by L.A.'s Bureau of Street Lighting, into a community park. Saturday's fair will display four different mural projects, one of which will ask kids to visualize what they would like to see included in a new neighborhood park.
David Bell, president of the East Hollywood council, noted the importance of events such as ArtCycle. "These events create awareness," Bell said. "If you open up the space to the people, they come out. The neighborhood comes alive."
East Hollywood ArtCycle
Where: Santa Monica Boulevard between Vermont and Virgil avenues
When: 2-10 p.m. Saturday
Info: (323) 739-4269; artcyclela.com