In Utah's Park City, cycling and sculpture a natural team

Arts• Another bike event in town draws new life from racing bike scrap at Park City's Kimball Center.
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Park City • Take a pile of torn-up racing bikes. Create a work of art. Sell it for a good cause.

The challenge raised eyebrows among artists and others this summer when it came from Kimball Art Center curator Hilary Nitka.

"People were like, 'You're doing what?' " Nitka said.

But Park City is "such a cycling paradise," and home to a growing arts community, that the idea took.

The pART Project, sponsored by bike manufacturer SRAM, is on display through Aug. 25. The company gave about 30 artists from Utah and around the country a box of 100 bicycle parts and asked them to choose 25 to create an art piece.

The result is a variety of works from dinosaurs to exotic flowers to Jell-O molds.

This weekend, as Tour of Utah competitors slog toward the Park City finish line, Kimball Art Center visitors can see what artists created. Admirers also can buy the works on eBay, with 70 percent of proceeds going to World Bicycle Relief, a nonprofit that supplies bicycles to developing countries. The art center will receive 20 percent of the proceeds, and the artists will get the remainder.

Vince Johnson grew up tinkering with chains and patching up tires. The Salt Lake City artist gets around on a 1991 Bridgestone, rents a car when he needs to and fixes up friends' bikes in spare hours.

Even so, the box of full of bike scraps he received in "all random shapes and sizes" was daunting, he said. But after a few days of staring at bolts and chains, "everything just kind of clicked in for me."

Johnson fashioned a machine relic he imagined was dug from the Earth.

For him and others, the challenge was a rare chance to blend two passions.

Salt Lake City artist Maxx Cohen usually works with ceramics. And he recently completed a 24-hour bike race in his native New Hampshire.

"I play in the mud on my bike, and I play in the mud with my artwork," he said.

On a recent afternoon, 8-year-old Tobey Powell of Heber grabbed hold of his favorite piece in the exhibit. One of its neon pedals locked and would not turn.

"This part is having problems," he said. His sister Lillie, 7, favored another work covered in bright tubes with bubbling water.

Lillie likes to draw, said her father, Jed Powell, and Tobey "loves all the kinetic stuff and seeing how things work."

Twitter: @anniebknox —

Art of the bike

The SRAM pART Project features works made from racing-bike scraps.

Where • Kimball Arts Center, 638 Park Ave., Park City; 435-649-8882

When • Through Sunday, Aug. 25; open Monday-Thursday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Friday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Saturday-Sunday, noon to 5 p.m.

Cost • Free

Discussion • SRAM global marketing director David Zimberoff will speak about the pART Project and its ties to the World Bicycle Relief Organization on Thursday, Aug. 8, at 6 p.m. at the center.