Bikes are more than functional, kinetic machines; they're also aesthetic contraptions, works of art even. Their greasy gears and nubby tires hold memories--your first, tear-filled wobbly ride or tearing through back alleys as a teen, watching dust clouds froth forth.
"As a kid, I grew up riding a bike. It's kind of your first real brush with freedom," said Boise State graphic design student James Lloyd.
Lloyd is one of 31 artists participating in the inaugural Poster Party on Thursday, June 16, a benefit event that aims to unite the bike and design communities. His submission, "Raising Cane," depicts a roving gang of biking boys--Band-Aids, V-necks, headphones and backward caps all gleaming under the night sky. A kid with a ski mask reaches out to high-five a dude carrying a Samurai sword as ghosts of howling wolves float from the trees.
"I thought about hanging out with my friends and making trouble ... The scene is just a bunch of kids going out and freeing their animal spirits," said Lloyd.
Poster Party organizers Sarah Lunstrum and Russ Stoddard had a simple thought process when organizing the event: They like bikes. They like art. And they like nonprofits. So why not squish them all together?
"We had 31 artists design a bike-themed poster and printed 30 of each of those prints, so 930 total posters. Those will be sold for $30 each," said Lunstrum. "Half of the proceeds go to the artists, so they're going to get paid depending on how much they sell ... and then also proceeds are going to go toward the Boise Bicycle Project and their capital campaign."
BBP is currently knee-deep in a fund-raising campaign to buy its building, located at 1027 Lusk St. The open house campaign kick-off event raised $31,000 in pledges in a single night. Sadly, BBP was robbed on June 11 and more than $1,000 in cash and merchandise was stolen.
"Right now we're raising funds with a capital campaign called Biking to Buy the Building, and our goal is to raise about $115,000 by Oct. 1, that will help us purchase the building and really establish ourselves as a permanent fixture in Boise," explained BBP co-founder Jimmy Hallyburton.
Though BBP hasn't had a direct hand in organizing the Poster Party, the group is psyched to be involved.
"Events like this one are great because we're always working hard down here to get more people on bikes, teaching people how to fix things, so that often doesn't leave us a lot of time to go out there and plan these really cool events ... It's just a huge load off of us and something that we always want to be a part of," said Hallyburton.
When Lunstrum and Stoddard first started soliciting artists for the event--local household names like Grant Olsen, Erin Cunningham, Kelly Knopp, Julia Green, Erin Ruiz and Ben Wilson, along with a slew of up-and-comers--they were surprised at how intertwined the bike and art worlds can be in Boise.
"It so happens all of the artists love bicycling too, so that was really convenient," said Lunstrum, laughing. "We just said, 'It's open-ended, whatever you want to do.'"
That open-ended thematic approach, while liberating, was also a challenge for some designers, who are used to more rigid guidelines.
"Usually in design, it's easier to have constraints. It kind of makes the creative process flow a little bit better," said graphic designer Ryan Lascano. "So just figuring out ... what bikes and bicycling, what that meant to me, what I was interested in. It was a little bit challenging."
Lascano's poster depicts a charming French cafe scene--complete with cobblestone streets and the requisite Eiffel Tower--with a vintage orange cruiser chained up to a street post.
"In my design work, I look to history to inform my creative process a lot," said Lascano. "So I did some research on the history of bicycles, and the first proper bicycle was built in France in the 1860s ... I travel a lot, so I think of European patio culture and bike culture."
But according to Lunstrum, Lascano's straightforward, scenic approach wasn't the norm. At least half of the submissions--like illustrator Julia Green's poster featuring headdress-clad Native Americans on bicycles shooting arrows at buffalo--feature animals prominently.
"There's a lot of animals incorporated with bicycles, which we were kind of surprised about," said Lunstrum. "I guess it just goes to show you how much people in this area really love animals--animals and bicycles."
The Poster Party, a BW Cover Auction Grant recipient, was originally slated to be at Studio J but has been moved to the Oliver Russell "I Love You" Building at 217 S. 11th St. In addition to limited-edition bike-themed poster art, there will also be a live graffiti performance by Sector 17, music by DJ Pedro/Audiomedics and beer from Payette Brewing.
"I knew they'd be good, but I'm just surprised they're as good as they are," said Lunstrum, describing the poster submissions. "But I shouldn't be, because they're all our favorite artists."