Move over, Van Gogh

I like to pay particular attention to the Venn diagram intersection of bicycle and art.

I think bikes of all kinds can be artistic in their own right; some are absolutely beautiful.

I have admired pictures and paintings of and with bikes, and even a few by bikes. I recall a Kickstarter project awhile back that outfitted bikes with chalk dispensers. As a cyclist tooled about town, he/she left a colored trail behind. The project’s creators envisioned a large bike ride with each cycle outfitted with such a contraption. The result was to be a lovely kaleidoscope when seen from above.

Recently, I happened upon the work of another artist-cyclist, (, who uses a combination of a GPS unit and map to recreate bike rides. The result is an elaborate bike “drawing,” with earth as canvas.

It made me curious if my regular rides would produce the next American Gothic.

Though most of my rides are basically out-and-backs, I try to include enough variety that maybe, just maybe, an interesting picture might emerge.

I skipped the GPS and simply traced a familiar route on a Google map of Lawrence.

The result stunned me: My regular commute to racquetball became a poignant comment on the nature of man. Breathtaking.

Intrigued, I sketched out my regular work commute, and again was left speechless.

There, in unmistakable black and white, was, to my eye, the most graphic depiction of a soul’s yearning — for love? for understanding? — I’ve seen. I was moved, nearly to tears.

Convinced there must be something to this bike-as-instrument-of-art movement, I tried to recreate all of my local bike rides over the past couple of months. I figured if my short little jaunts could create such beautifully heart-rending images, perhaps a greater sampling would be even more masterful.

So I sketched and sketched and sketched, then I looked. I peered. I squinted, turned the map this way and that.

But, nope, after all that work, as far as I can tell, it all amounted to little more than squiggles.

“Michael Wallace”