in Branford has reaffirmed that old adage about one man’s trash being another’s treasure. Late last year, the Branford-based bicycle retailer invited dozens of Connecticut artists to sift through tons of its junkyard-bound wheels, chains, gears, frames and other worn and damaged bike parts to use in creating original sculptures. Think of it as the ultimate recycling—pun intended—project, emphasized owner and store manager Tom Girard.
On March 29, the eve of Zane’s 25th annual , eight whimsical finalists were unveiled at the store during an evening reception attended by customers, judges and the artists themselves. The occasion culminated a novel endeavor that melds a diverse range of artistic talent with the pleasure and passion of cycling.
That spirit is certainly alive in the large, fanciful “Bike Tree” constructed by Rafael Cornier of West Haven, a longtime cyclist and multimedia artist. The piece comprises nine wheels, three frames and various other bike parts welded in the roundish shape of a tree and painted three shades of green, in keeping with the mandated “Spring” theme of the competition. Contrast that to Silas Finch’s “Spring Loaded,” a steely mechanical arm, amalgamated from gears, shafts and cables to produce a menacing mélange that could well be an appendage from The Terminator.
Similarly inventive is Jacob Kennedy’s assemblage of 33 bike chains and three wheels to produce a metallic chandelier, its dangling components welded together using spokes. One can imagine it hanging over “Leelu-Z, In Spring Time,” a form-meets-function armchair made from handlebars, sans upholstery, welded into a remarkably comfortable piece by Branford artist Sid Werthan.
Cheshire’s Ruth Sack, who says she strives to connect humanity to nature with her sculptures and paintings, does so beautifully with “Flora, Goddess of Spring, and Her Consort,” a sunshiny couple imaginatively conjoined from spokes and gears. Looming overhead is Jesse Good’s humongous globe, a skeletal conglomeration of dozens of small bike parts hanging like a gigantic bauble over the store.
A sense of motion emanates from “Horizontal Machine 2,” an eclectic composite of knobby tires that spin in unison underneath a translucent canopy fashioned by Milford artist Crystal Heiden to resemble a sort of covered wagon. Motion also overrides the one sculpture in the exhibit that actually looks like a bicycle, albeit an abstract one, fabricated by Joshua Rowley, who teaches at Yale School of Architecture. His gleaming vehicle contrasts three wheels aligned on one end with a single one—characterized by clumps of melted metal—connected by a pair of frames. Turning it upside down gives the viewer an intriguing shift in perspective.
As they ogled what their collaboration of resourcefulness and recycling had wrought, Zane and Girard reflected on the serendipity that sparked what’s planned as an annual competition. “We were in Las Vegas last fall for the InnerBike trade show, where one of the companies, SRAM, had some cycling-themed sculptures on display,” Zane explained. “When we came home, Tom suggested that we could use the hundreds of parts we routinely send to the junkyard to inspire sculptures by local artists.”
More than 50 Connecticut artists submitted ideas by January, and the finalists had February and March to complete their work. The adjudged winner is Finch’s “Spring Loaded.” The fan favorite, chosen by 400 write-in votes at the unveiling is Kennedy’s “metallic chandelier”. “Spring Loaded” will remain on display at Zane’s while the others will be auctioned off, with proceeds going toward The Zane Foundation, a yearly scholarship program for local college-bound high school students.
“This is what Zane’s is all about,” said the proud proprietor, “bringing people together for the fun and healthy enjoyment of bicycling.”
1. Silas Finch: Winner
title: "Spring loaded"
lives in New Haven
2. Rafael Cornier
lives in New Haven
(green bicycle tree)
3. Joshua Rowley
lives in East Haven
(bike with the melted rear wheel)
4. Sid Werthan
title: "Leelu-Z; In Spring Time"
lives in Madison
5. Jesse Good
title: "Bikey Ball; Spring- Time on Planet Zane"
lives in New London
6. Crystal Heiden
title: "Horizon Machine 2"
lives in Milford
7. Ruth Sack
title: "Flora Goddess of Spring and Her Consort"
lives in Cheshire
8. Jacob Kennedy – Fan Favorite
lives in North Branford