COLUMBIA — Children swatting at bubbles in Stephens Lake Park might not be so out of the ordinary. Hearing a recording of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” is not an abnormal occurrence either. Seeing a deer hastily moving its legs is also a common sight. However, when these elements are featured on intricately designed bicycles under the big white tent at the 50th annual Art in the Park, they take on a whole new meaning.
Commissioned artists and adult and junior participants took part in the new ArtCycle project, a competition that challenged artists to create visual art using a fully functioning bicycle. However, the $1,000 top prize is only available to the noncommissioned artists. Judging for the ArtCycles competition will take place at noon Sunday in Stephens Lake Park. Following the judging, the commissioned artists’ bicycles will be auctioned off.
The shaded area had a variety of bicycles, including one with a deer whose legs moved when the pedals turned and one with a bubble blower in a basket with faces made from thousands of beads on it. Another was a cat-like creation that featured fully functional turn signals and LED lights.
“You cannot come in here and not smile,” festival-goer Marcia Flenser said. “Then you turn around and a bike is playing Queen.” Throughout the day, a steady stream of onlookers wandered through the assortment of bicycles. “Hey look at this one” and “so ingenious” could be heard time and time again among the crowd. Cheerful laughs popped from the corners of the tent as people realized the intricacies of the bicycles.
“I think it shows a really wide range of creative talent,” Micky Leake said. “There aren’t two that are nearly similar.”
Leake, attending the festival with her husband to help with his booth, said she enjoyed the fact that younger kids were involved in the art scene.
Six-year-old Parker Hartman pointed to one of the bicycles and said, “I’d buy that one.” Parker said his favorite was the one his aunt’s class made. He said he also liked a dragon-themed bicycle.
An astute observer, Parker walked up to one bicycle without a seat and said, “There’s no place to sit.”
One of the artists, Pam Ingram, created the bubble-blowing, bead-encrusted ArtCycle inspired by Granny’s House, an after school program for low-income families.
“I didn’t realize all the steps it takes to make a cohesive piece of art instead of a rolling billboard,” she said.
Ingram said she was also fond of the junior participant entries.
“I think they are all so cute, especially the red dragon,” she said in reference to a black and red bicycle with a dragon head whose jaws were made out of egg cartons.