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Kelly Marie Martin's Photos Document Bicycle Culture in Los Angeles

Bike It: Portraits of my Bicipandilla by artist Kelly Marie Martin features black-and-white photographic portraits, taken with a 4x5 camera, of riders in her “bicipandilla,” or bicycle gang, with their bikes. The exhibition will be located in the Armory’s ground floor Community Gallery and will be on display from August 18 – October 2, 2011. A reception with a reading by artist and poet Jen Hofer — one of the riders Martin photographed for Bike It — will take place on Thursday, August 18th, from 7-9pm. Both are free and open to the public. The exhibition and its related events are organized by curator Irene Tsatsos, the Armory’s Director of Gallery Programs.

In a book also entitled Bike It: Portraits of my Bicipandilla, published in 2009, Martin paired portraits of riders with their responses to the questions, “Why do you ride, how do you ride, and what do you ride?”. The self-published book, available through www.lulu.com, features a collection of photographs Martin took between 2006 and 2008 using a 4x5 camera, “of my bicycle gang centered around the Bicycle Kitchen in Los Angeles.” The portraits are prefaced by a “neo-enthusiast bike manifesto” by Hofer, a poet, artist, translator, social justice interpreter, and co-founder, with Kim Jensen, of the City of Angels Ladies’ Bicycle Association, also known as the Whirly Girls.

In addition to the opening night reading, the exhibition will be accompanied by three events. A special, family-friendly Bike It CraftNight with Julianna Parr, known as “Craft Captain JP,” will take place on August 20th from 5-7pm at the Armory, where participants are invited to add pizzazz to their rides by crafting spokecards and personalized license plates. Cyclists Inciting Change through Live Exchange (CICLE) will co-sponsor a poetry-and-art-inflected “Spoke(n) Art” ride around Pasadena on September 23rd from 5-9pm, starting and ending at the Armory. A ride and afternoon tea with the City of Angels Ladies’ Bicycle Association, a.k.a. the Whirly Girls, starting at Union Station and ending at the Armory, will close the ex-hibition on October 2nd. All events are free and open to the public. Details about the events and participants are below.

About the Artist:

Kelly Marie Martin is a founding board member and “Cook” at the Bicycle Kitchen, a not-forprofit bicycle repair and education workshop in central Los Angeles that promotes the bicycle as a fun, safe, and accessible form of transportation and provides a welcoming space to learn about building, maintaining, and riding bicycles. She began her book in order to document her enthusiasm for her “bicipandilla,” a close-knit group of bike buddies whom she met at bike clubs Critical Mass, Midnight Ridazz, and the Bicycle Kitchen.

In addition to her involvement in the Bicycle Kitchen, Martin (www.kellymariemartin.com) is an interdisciplinary artist, activist, and musician who plays guitar and sings in the old time trio Triple Chicken Foot (www.triplechickenfoot.com). In 2003, she and Marisa Bell, known as “MaBell,” co-founded Bicycle Bitchen, a bike repair workshop by and for women and transgender folks at the Bicycle Kitchen; it is now a regular Monday night shift. Martin also teaches music, art, and graphic design. All of these activities inform one another and intermingle, forming a platform from which she generates artwork that is lyrical, critical, and transformative.

Martin received her MFA from the University of California, Irvine and has exhibited her work in Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and Rejmyre, Sweden and performed at REDCAT and Highways. Her work has been published in The Journal of Aesthetics and Protest, Imaginary Syllabi(Palm Press, 2011), and Cog Magazine as well as in numerous self-published books and ‘zines. As part of Triple Chicken Foot she has performed at LACMA, the Autry Museum, the Portland Old Time Gathering, and Stagecoach. The band also produces The Los Angeles Old Time Social, an annual festival currently in its seventh year, which celebrates American old time music and dance through workshops, concerts, and square dances.

Related Programs:

A free public reading by Jen Hofer will take place at the exhibition’s opening reception on Thursday, August 18th, from 7-9pm. Hofer is a poet, translator, social justice interpreter, teacher, knitter, book-maker, public letter-writer, and urban cyclist. This August, she will install Roads to California, a large-scale handmade book with quilted poem pages made from donated and foraged paper from Wendover, Utah, where the book will be on display at the Center for Land Use Interpretation’s exhibit hall. Her recent and forthcoming poem sequences and translations are available through various autonomous small presses including: Atelos, Counterpath Press, Dusie Books, Kenning Editions, Les Figues Press, Palm Press, and Subpress. She also writes letters for people in public spaces at her escritorio público, and makes tiny books by hand at her kitchen table in Cypress Park, Los Angeles. She teaches at California Institute of the Arts, Goddard College, and Otis College of Art & Design.

CraftNight will be at the Armory this August 20th, where Craft Captain JP (www.crafthead.com) will facilitate bicycle-inspired crafts from 5-7pm. A $2 craft-processing fee applies. CraftNight, now in its tenth year, strives to bring forth the unrealized artistic talents of the greater public through an atmosphere of bohemia and great cordiality. CraftNight’s regular weekly home is at Akbar, on Sunset at Fountain in Los Angeles, where the joy of craft is spread every Wednesday from 9pm until midnight or later.

A Spoke(n) Art Ride will take place on September 23 from 5-9pm beginning and ending at the Armory. Co-sponsored by Cyclists Inciting Change through Live Exchange (CICLE), this ride is a dérive through Pasadena that takes local art and poetry as its compass. The ride honors CICLE founders Liz Elliot and Shay Sanchez, whose portraits with their bikes appear in Kelly Martin’s book Bike It, to celebrate the work and spirit of CICLE and to explore Pasadena’s rich arts landscape from the vantage point of the bicycle.

A closing ride, led by The City of Angels Ladies’ Bicycling Association (a.k.a. The Whirly Girls), will take place on October 2nd. The group will gather at the front entrance to Union Station at 2pm and will begin riding promptly at 2:30pm. The ride will end by 4pm at the Armory with a closing celebration for the show. Afternoon tea will be provided and visitors are encouraged to bring baked goods to share. Latecomers to either ride may email [email protected] or [email protected] to receive a phone number to text for directions or to find out the ride’s current location.

Bike It: Portraits of my Bicipandilla runs in conjunction with Street Sight, an exhibition that asserts a new form of “street photography” emerged in Southern California in the 1960s and ‘70s. Street Sight takes into account factors that contributed to the post-war shift from imagery that was picturesque, image-oriented, and anecdotal to a more conceptually motivated style of representation and object-making that was decisively suburban, process-oriented, and experiential. The artists whose work is included in Street Sight (Adam Bartos, Darryl Curran, Bevan Davies, John Divola, Judy Fiskin, Robbert Flick, Dennis Hopper, Grant Mudford, Jane O’Neal, Marvin Rand, Seymour Rosen, Ed Ruscha, and Julian Wasser) have made a prepositional shift away from the description and distillation of activity and inhabitants that are seen on the street to an emphasis on those elements, extensions, and experiences that are not just of the street, but, of the street that is dominated, defined, and experienced by the automobile.

About the Armory:

The Armory Center for the Arts, in Pasadena, California, builds on the power of art to transform lives and communities through presenting, creating, teaching, and discussing contemporary visual art. The organization’s department of exhibitions mounts over 25 visual arts exhibitions each year at its main facility and in locations throughout the City of Pasadena. In addition, the Armory offers studio art classes and a variety of educational outreach programs to more than fifty schools and community sites. The Armory believes that an understanding and appreciation of the arts is essential for a well-rounded human experience and a civil community.

Gallery hours at Armory Center for the Arts are Tuesday – Sunday, noon-5pm, with a $5 suggested donation. Armory members, students, and seniors are free. The Armory is easily accessible from the Gold Line Memorial Park Station in Pasadena. For information about Armory exhibitions and events, the public may call 626.792.5101 x122 or visit the Armory website at www.armoryarts.org.

Important Dates:

All events are free unless otherwise noted.

  • Thursday, August 18, 2011, 7-9pm: Opening Reception with a Reading by Jen Hofer.
  • Saturday, August 20th, 2011, 5-7pm: CraftNight with Craft Captain JP. All ages welcome, $2 craft-processing fee.
  • Friday, September 23, 2011, 5-9pm: Spoke(n) Art Ride through Pasadena, co-sponsored by Cyclists Inciting Change through Live Exchange (CICLE).
  • Sunday, October 2, 2011, 2-6pm: Closing ride, led by The City of Angels Ladies’ Bicycling Association (a.k.a. The Whirly Girls) and celebration with afternoon tea at the Armory.

Press Release

See full press release PDF for more information.

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