Previous posts have all revolved around observational drawings I had been doing of various buildings on the north side of St. Louis. Unfortunately I haven’t been doing these drawings so therefore no blog posts have been posted in a long time.
Over the past year I’ve been biking all over the city of St. Louis on a quest to visit every neighborhood and incorporate structures from each neighborhood into a series of drawings. This has been well underway for about six months or so. In fact, this summer I will be having a show of these at the Third Degree Glass Factory (more details will come later).
I will still continue to add drawings to my portfolio but I want to push the blog into a new direction. I want steer this blog into being more about the bike rides – my experiences, observations, and anything I learn from the ride. These rides typically take me through many neighborhoods and are meandering unplanned journeys. The bike rides inform my art, they inspire me and help me see the city in new ways.
I am not a bike advocate or represent anyone. However, I do believe St. Louis is a great place to see on a bike. It is the best way to explore and see the unique differences of each neighborhood. On the bike I have seen the many architectural styles that this city is blessed with but theres more. I have experienced the varying topography, street grids, interactions with people, the weather, the smells and more. There is no barrier between me and the environment and the communities. Biking is a free, self-propelled physical activity that I find fun and challenging. I also feel a sense of freedom and exploration – no constraints on where I can go. I’m always wondering what is down the road or what is around the corner. This is something that makes me feel like a kid.
I have always loved cycling but haven’t always done it as much as I wanted. When I was a kid, riding my bike up and down the street with my neighborhood friends was fun. Fun fact: My first bike was an E.T. Bike. It was red and had solid wheels and white plastic spokes. See one here. As I got older the boundaries expanded. I’d be allowed to bike around the block, then the whole neighborhood, then to the gas station to get candy, then I would start exploring the countryside. It was the 1980s and my parents were fine with letting me outside until it got dark. I knew to be back when the streetlights came on. When I was in my teens I liked riding in the country to see where the roads would take me. I always wondered how far I could go. Sometimes I ended up in a different town. I would study maps in the phone book and try to memorize as much as I could. Those were the days without mobile/smart phones so I had no map on hand and no way to call for help. I’d just take some water. It was completely self-guided, self-sufficient and sometimes I’d get a little worried but I would always find my way and be fine. It certainly fed my independent spirit. Unfortunately when I finally got a car, job, and started college my bike riding wen’t down the tubes and would only be something I’d do every-once-in-awhile and only done on a marked trail or to and from school. I’m not saying it wasn’t fun but it’s not the same as wandering and exploring. It was more like exercise/transport that was strictly utilitarian.
These rides remind me of when I was younger but instead of exploring a sea of cornfields and soybeans in the Illinois countryside, I explore the brick and concrete urban jungle and it’s history. Now I got some biking to do!