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Kimball ‘pARTners’ with SRAM

Erik Brunvard's "Cycle Drawing Machine #1" is among the works that will be on display in the "pART" exhibit at the Kimball Art Center from July 26 through Aug. 25. The artists utilized bicycle parts made and provided by SRAM. (Photos courtesy of the Kimball Art Center)
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In 1817, Baron von Drais introduced a contraption called the hobby horse to Europe, which many historians agree was the precursor to the bicycle. It had two wheels, handlebars, but no pedals.

The rider would straddle the machine and walk.

the 1890s, bicycles were everywhere and began popping up in the United States.

Since then, they have not only have added joy and practicality to the lives of their owners, they have also inspired artists including painter Marcel Duchamp, sculptor Marcel Breuer and, more recently, Knox Martin, whose 1979 six-story painted mural "Woman with Bicycle" can be seen in New York City.

Another type of bicycle art will open to the public when the Kimball Art Center unveils "pART," on Saturday, July 26.

The exhibit, made possible by a partnership with SRAM, a Chicago-based, world-renowed bicycle-component manufacturer, will feature sculptures by local and national artists that utilize various SRAM-made parts including gears, sprockets and spokes.

"pART" is a project conceived by the nonprofit organization World Bicycle Relief, said David Zimberoff, global marketing director for SRAM.

"In 2005-06, one of SRAM’s founder’s brother, who was working in the part-development group, founded World Bicycle Relief," Zimberoff said during a telephone call from his office in Chicago. "Its primary mission is to assist people around the world through bicycles."

The mission that centers on the power of bicycles manifests itself in one of three major ways — education, health care and microfinance.

For the education aspect, World Bicycle Relief raises money to build bikes to give to students in Sub-Sahara Africa, Zimberoff said.

"That way they can commute to school more easily," Zimberoff said.

Likewise, the program raises money to provide bicycles to health-care workers in the same region and in other locations around the world.

"Typically these health care workers walk to visit their patients, so by giving them a bicycle, we empower them by giving them the opportunity to see more people and carry more supplies," he said.

When it comes to microfinance, World Bicycle Relief developed a program where entrepreneurs in Africa can purchase a bicycle at an affordable, short-term loan rate.

"Most of these entrepreneurs walk their goods to market," Zimberoff said. "If they have bicycles, they don’t have to walk, and also transport more goods than they can carry by hand."

Zimberoff’s duty is to create initiatives such as these around the world to raise money for World Bicycle Relief on SRAM’s behalf.

One of those initiatives is the "pART" project.

"We put together a box filled with 100 pieces of the parts we make and then recruit artists to donate their time and energy to build some art with those pieces," Zimberoff said. "They have to use at least 25 of those parts, but have the freedom to use other materials as well."

The artists then donate the pieces back to SRAM, or in this case, to the Kimball Art Center.

"We then set up an online auction, and the majority of the proceeds benefit World Bicycle Relief and the rest will go locally into the Park City community," Zimberoff said. "We try to do one every year and the one coming to the Kimball Art Center is the fourth one we’ve ever done."

Hilary Nitka, board member of the Kimball Art Center who sits on the exhibitions and event committee, learned about SRAM and World Bicycle Relief through her daughter who lives in Colorado.

"My husband and I are both cyclists and I wanted to do a project that would involve bikes and bicycle art," Nitka said. "My daughter went to Austin, Texas, and saw Lance Armstrong’s collection of bikes, but didn’t think we could do anything like that.

"After looking around, she remembered her friend who organized World Bicycle Relief projects and said it may work for us," Nitka said.

Nitka contacted Zimberoff.

"I begged and begged and after harassing him for a couple of months, he finally said, ‘OK, you can do it,’" Nitka said with a laugh. "He invited me to an exhibit in New York last November. It was a big installation that included 75 artists at a nice fancy space."

She and Zimberoff got together to produce a smaller version of the New York exhibit.

"We whittled things down to a show that would involve 25 artists, and he sent me a box of parts," Nitka said. "The parts included various sizes of gear sprockets, spokes, derailleurs, gearshifts and wheels."

The works for the Kimball exhibit had a size limit and could not be larger than 20 by 20 by 20 inches nor weigh more than 70 pounds.

"The artists could use any fabrication method they wanted and they could add any extra material they wanted as well," Nitka said.

There will be two ways these works can be purchased, she said.

"We’re going to have prices on the pieces so people can buy the works immediately, but we’ll also start an online auction at eBay.com that will run from Aug. 6 through Aug. 12," Nitka said.

The "pART" exhibit was everything Nitka had wanted.

"Park City needed some exhibit that had something to do with cycling and I thought this would be a great way to get it started," she said. "And David has been wonderful to work with.

"SRAM is known internationally, so to have that name on one of the exhibitions at the Kimball Art Center heightens Park City’s visibility," she said. "And having this on display during the summer is great, especially with the Tour of Utah coming through in August."

Nitka also liked getting to know artists that worked on their pieces.

"We have many Utah artists and some national artists involved in the project," she said. "It’s been amazing to see what people come up with and it’s been such a delight to work with these artists."

Zimberoff said working with the KAC is another way for SRAM to give back to the world cycling community.

"Six or seven years ago, SRAM shifted our focus to be globally responsible in light of corporate social responsibility," he said. "In addition to World Bicycle Relief, we created the SRAM Cycling Fund that specifically benefits cycling advocacy, where we give $2 million of our profits each year to help provide better access and safety for cycling in United States, Europe and Asia.

"This is the first time we’ve partnered with another nonprofit organization, and it’s our turn to give something back," he said.

"pART" will be on exhibit at the Kimball Art Center, 638 Park Ave., from Saturday, July 26, through Sunday, Aug. 25. For more information, visit http://www.kimballartcenter.org.


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