The art of cycling: event marks 10 years of bike-inspired artwork

Bicycle poster art on display at ARTCRANK
Bicycle poster art on display at ARTCRANK at Fulton Brewing Company in Northeast Minneapolis.
Hannah Kangas | MPR News

Art, cyclists, brewery, food trucks, artists, beer. If you live in Minnesota, it is likely that you are a fan of at least one of these things, if not many of them.

ARTCRANK, held Saturday at Fulton Brewing Company in Northeast Minneapolis, combines all of the above. The event highlights bicycle-inspired poster art and even provided free valet bike parking. This year ARTCRANK celebrated a decade of local, national, and international bike art showings with a "Greatest Hits" theme, featuring top posters from past shows.

What started out as a spontaneous idea for a one-time event to bring together cyclists and artists has expanded rapidly over ten years. According to Charles Youel, founder of ARTCRANK, the number of attendees has grown from 500 at the first Minneapolis event, to over 5,000 people last year.

He never saw it coming, however.

"No one is more surprised than me," said Youel. "I thought that we would do the one show... just to be able to discover that same sense of fascination with cycling that same creative expression across the country and around the world I think that's been maybe the best part of the experience overall."

What is it about the connection between art and bicycles that draws in so many people? To some, it could seem to be a rather random combination.

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Youel says the relationship of art and bicycle is an intricate one: "Riding a bike is in and of itself a form of creative expression where even if you take the same route to work every day your experience of that is going to be different. So there is that sort of essence and creativity in something as simple as a bike ride."

On Saturday people stood in crowded huddles around bike posters, contemplative looks on their faces. Artists, too, find cycling akin to the creative process.

Leslie Olson, a Minneapolis-based graphic designer whose art is featured in the event said she hopes to communicate how the power of biking can generate important ideas.

"I think some of the better ideas people have is when their attention isn't focused on creating those ideas, said Olson. "I hope that it reminds them to get outside and to take time to let themselves think and to let themselves move and to let them enjoy things outside of their mental bubble."