Kaleidospoke is a three-month long art exhibition and film showcase organized and curated by graphic artist Vanessa Wilde (opening 5 pm Friday, July 15. Center for Contemporary Arts, 1050 Old Pecos Trail, 982-1338). The work, which includes that of six muralists from around the country who are also cyclists, explores issues in modern cycling. Wilde, originally from Gallup, plans to donate any proceeds from merchandise to Chainbreaker Collective. The show arose from Wilde’s interest in both art—her work has been featured in numerous exhibitions—and bike activism, most recently demonstrated by her involvement with Loops. Loops is a Monday night community bike ride that meets at 7:30 pm on the Plaza, travels around town and usually ends at The Matador (“It’s like a family, a community,” Wilde says of Loops). Wilde talks to SFR about the bike scene in Santa Fe and how it relates to art.
SFR: What is bike awareness like in Santa Fe?
VW: It’s much different than in other places I’ve lived. In Portland and Denver people are aware of bicyclists, and they have good bike trails and systems. Here in Santa Fe, it’s the layout of the roads that makes it so complicated and the fact that we’re so dependent on cars. Only people who live near the Plaza can get around easily and safely on a bike whereas, if you live on the south side, coming down Cerrillos [Road] or St. Francis [Drive], it’s quite difficult.
Do you think there’s animosity between car drivers and bicyclists here?
Most definitely. I’ve heard stories of people getting hit by cars or veered off the road. It’s too close for comfort.
Where does that animosity come from?
There are some instances where people on bicycles don’t go with traffic, kind of make up their own rules, so people get upset. I guess there’s anger. People are in their cars and they can’t go through the Plaza as fast as a bicyclist. Sometimes people aren’t aware that bicycles have to follow traffic laws…[For cars] it’s that road-rage mentality. Being in a car is impersonal; you’re in your own bubble.
Is there a class or cultural divide contributing to the animosity?
Of course you see nice bikes around, so you definitely have some money coming in from somewhere. That’s why I love Chainbreaker. They put people on bikes who can’t necessarily afford bicycles. It gives them alternate transportation so they don’t have to depend on a [motorized] vehicle…It’s cross-cultural/cross-class. We discovered that by doing Loops.
What does it mean to be a cyclist?
Biking is a birthright. As a child, getting on a bike is freedom. It’s not a car but it’s damn near close to it. And of course the plus side as an adult is environmental, watching your carbon footprint.
How do you convince people to ride bikes and counter the culture of cars?
I feel that doing it through art or film, the creativity aspect could draw you toward it, not just seeing a person riding a bike but seeing it through art. Another perspective could maybe broaden their view of it or peak their interest. [Need more convincing? Check out a bar graph made by Wilde and Rawson Adams at SFReporter.com].
Why do biking and art collide so frequently?
Maybe it’s a generational thing. It was definitely prominent when I was living in Denver. Most of the people on bikes there are artists, graphic designers, tattoo artists. Maybe it’s the mind-set, being more aware of the world around them.
Is the bike culture as strong in Santa Fe?
Of course there’s the city aspect there, but here it’s just as strong. You still have that camaraderie, that brotherhood, that family feeling about it. So it is definitely strong; it’s just a matter of finding those people.