'The Art & History of Bicycles' to open June 11 in Robeson Gallery

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The HUB-Robeson Galleries will host "The Art & History of Bicycles" from June 11 through Sept. 7 in the Robeson Gallery on Penn State's University Park campus. A free public reception to be held from 5:30 to 7 p.m. on June 13. 

Featuring a variety of historical and novelty bicycles from the collection of Bob Swaim, artists Thomas Fainor, Ben Bowden, Kerry McLean, Eric Staller and Tommmi Miller take the viewer on a two-wheeled tour of the art and history of bicycles. 

Fainor, a wood and metal artist with a very strong mechanical nature and background, begins the historical aspect of "The Art & History of Bicycles" with his reproductions of a hobby horse and boneshaker. These are followed chronologically by an unknown artist who created the highwheeler, or pennyfarthing, and an early safety bicycle, which was the precursor to bicycles as we know them today. 

Bowden, a British industrial designer, bridges the gap between art and history with his Bowden Spacelander. The Spacelander, when originally released in 1960, was initially considered commercially unsuccessful until the 1980s when a resurgence of interest in the Spacelander as a collector's item led two bicycle enthusiasts to purchase the rights to the name and began manufacturing reproductions. 

McLean is most famous for his design, production and use of monocycles, which are large, one-wheeled vehicles that the rider sits inside of. Accompanying the human-powered monocycle in this exhibit are two one-of-a-kid creations by McLean: a low-rider bicycle and a whole-body tricycle. 

Staller is an American artist who uses light and architecture in the creation of his works. He is considered to be one of the pioneers of the art car movement with his seven-person "conference bike" and "love bike built for two."

Miller is an American artist from Indiana who creates artistically unique bicycles that are then used by performers. Even though Miller’s passion is for unicycles, evident in his triple-wheeled unicycle, he has also created the off-centered wheel bicycle, a one-of-a-kind tricycle, and reverse steering kits for bicycles. 

Swaim’s collection of unique human-powered vehicles began with he first saw Miller traveling in an old school bus to display his units at a bicycle convention in Iowa in the 1990s. Swaim’s first unique unit came from Miller, and his collection has since grown to include more than 200 pieces from a variety of artists. Inspired by Miller, Swaim travels with his bikes in a 24-foot trailer to display subsets of his collection at various events, museums and schools.

Last Updated May 30, 2017