Motorcycle as Art Display at Sturgis
Michael Lichter has been photographing motorcycles of all kinds for decades. The inspiration for his current "Motorcycles as Art" show at the Sturgis Rally came nearly 20 years ago, when he shot the “The Art of the Motorcycle” exhibit at the Guggenheim Museum in New York.
"I think that did have an influence on my doing these exhibitions," Lichter said. "It was wonderful and I was very impressed with it.”
While the Guggenheim show represented the first large-scale public display of motorcycles in a prominent art museum, it was composed mostly of production bikes.
"I felt that the custom world wasn't represented and I really felt that was more of an art form. Production bikes are artful, but there are many limitations.”
This year he decided to put the emphasis of the Sturgis show on young builders, titling it "Old Iron, Young Blood.” Even the veteran custom builders welcomed the infusion of new ideas and concepts in the show.
"Us baby boomers are getting older so you got to have these young guys step up and what's cool is ... they have their own spin,” said respected builder Rick Fairless. “They have different ideas than us old customizers, so it's wonderful to see these guys."
But the artist label wasn’t an entirely comfortable fit for some builders.
"Oh no, I've never thought of that,” said Brad Gregory, 32, from Glenwood, Iowa. “I’ve always thought of artists as like, paintings, drawings, and I have zero talent in that. So to see my name as 'artist' is entirely new and foreign to me." Gregory, who works as a mechanical engineer, is now working on his fifth custom bike.
The “Motorcycles as Art” show includes nearly 40 custom builds, two-dimensional original artwork, and photos by numerous artists. The show runs from 2–10 PM at the Buffalo Chip Event Center through Friday, August 11. Admission is free.