Thursday, April 24, 2008

Squashing The Cycle

Times Argus
April 24, 2008

MONTPELIER – Moving at a slow, deliberate speed, the metal crusher evoked groans and high-pitched squeals from the bicycles being tortured and crushed within its jaws.

"This is how bikes sound when they're screaming," said Carrie Baker, an employee of Onion River Sports, photographing the carnage.

She was on hand to capture the "sculptcycle" creation of artists Lochlin Smith and Ward Joyce as it came together – literally. Early Wednesday morning approximately 30 decrepit bikes were crushed into a 600-pound cube at Bolduc Auto Salvage in Middlesex.

Although it sounds like a new flavor of Hood's frozen treats, SculptCycle is a project hosted by the Montpelier Downtown Community Association. Smith and Joyce are two of 20 artists selected to create sculptures using recycled bicycle parts.

They have not come up with a name for their piece, one of two they are crafting, which will be displayed at the Rialto Bridge in downtown Montpelier, next to Capitol Grounds. The men came up with their crushing idea during a brainstorming session and pitched it to the owner of the salvage yard, who was happy to help out.

"We're just imagining a piece that looks like a Jackson Pollack painting in metal," said Smith, as the machine mangled the multi-colored frames. "It's either going to look like a total piece of junk or it's going to be cool."

The crushing machine, usually used to compact aluminum, has the capacity to crunch 2,200 pounds per square inch. It took several crushing sessions to compact all of the bicycles into the cube weighing over a quarter of a ton.

"It's pretty tough steel," Joyce commented, standing in what looked like a bicycle graveyard. "There's something creepy about destroying toys."

An initial SculptCycle unveiling will take place on June 6, with an official tour of all pieces taking place the following day. SculptCycle culminates with an auction for sculptures on Oct 4.

Other related events are scheduled during that time, including a bicycle film series, an environmental lecture series and 'meet the artist' activities. To find out more information about the SculptCycle, go to

Rob Hitzig, another artist and chairman of the SculptCycle committee, brought a green frame with him to the salvage yard on Wednesday.

"I've been doing my own sculptcycle and this is a part I had left over," said Hitzig, who has crafted a robot-like man and two dogs, using wood and bicycle parts, called The Dogwalker. "I've gone through several bikes. As the design changed, I had to focus on certain parts."

The Web site for the event highlights the artists' creations and conceptual designs, and gives an idea of what parts of the bike are being employed in the sculptures.

Some of the artists were getting nervous about having to weld their sculptures, said Hitzig. But he and others have proven there are a number of creative methods that do not involve a hot flame. One artist crafted a basket with the frame made from bike wheels, with tires and tubes woven through them.

SculptCycle is a creative way to recycle bicycles that are in need of serious repair or have become defunct. According to Hitzig and wife Mary Jo Krolewski, there are plenty to choose from for creating a sculptcycle.

"We could do this project every year for the next 10 years and not run out of bikes," said Hitzig, who co-owns the Lazy Pear Gallery.

Contact Sarah Hinckley at

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