Tuesday, July 29, 2014 · 12:37 a.m.
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Two free "art bike-building" summer workshops for inner city youth are being presented by Art 120 in June thanks to a grant from the Lyndhurst Foundation.

Applications are being accepted now for the workshops, which will take place 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. June 20-24, and June 27-July 1. Registration is also open to adults who would like to learn while helping oversee students, as well as teachers seeking to use art bike making in their curriculum. Applications can be found online and are due by June 3.

Art 120, a new arts organization founded by Kathryn Warren, is bringing in two Houston-based art bike artists, Natali Leduc and Smitty "Mr. B." Regula, to lead the workshops. The two have built art bikes for over five years, including several that make music, wash laundry and gallop.

Each week 20 students ages 14-18 will work in teams of four to create an art bike. According to workshop enrollment information, each course will complete five working bicycle contraptions. Students will learn how to design, assemble and embellish their own art bicycle.

Warren said students in the workshops will learn about the art of form, design, fabrication, engineering and problem solving. The finished bikes will be featured in an art bike brigade this October.

The Chattanooga-based organization's first project involved an art bike makeover competition this spring using a 1970s Schwinn Cruiser donated by District 8 City Councilman Andrae McGary.

Metalsmith, Conrad Tengler, rides his "Bunn Smoke" art bike on Main Street. Photo courtesy of Art121.

The winning design, "Bunn Smoke," is a functional gas grill on wheels created by local metalsmith Conrad Tengler of Black Sheep Forge. Tengler will take the bike to Houston this weekend to be featured at The Houston Art Car Parade. Regula's Hen-a-tron, an 8 ft tall giant talking chicken car, will also be featured in the parade. The bikes help lead the cars throughout the parade, according to Ashley Duffy, event manager of the Orange Show Center for Visionary Art. "Bunn Smoke" will also participate in the opening festivities for the American Art Museum Curator’s conference in Houston, Texas, Warren said in a press release.

The competition officially launched Art 120's art car workshops in preparation for Chattanooga's April 2012 art car parade, which Warren said she hopes will take place in conjunction with the annual 4Bridges Art Festival.

The group seeks to create opportunities to connect the public to artists and art within a 120 minute commute, with Chattanooga as the hub.

"This is a wonderful way for kids to engage in vocational and artistic skills," Warren said. "Everyone can get excited about an art car. Teachers can take it to another level, and the parade will allow the kids to show their work publicly, reinforcing their place in the community. It is a great way to get art off the walls."

Detail of scrolling metal work on Tengler's art bike. Contributed photo.

While in Houston for the parade, Tengler, a native of Texas who said he has always built contorted bikes and other sculptures, plans to reunite with several art car artist friends for the weekend. He said he hopes to bring some of that spirit back to Chattanooga and maybe get to work on "an idea that has been running around my head for awhile. It involves fire, propane and a lot of heavy metal."

For the 2012 Scenic City Art Car Weekend, Warren has enlisted Robert Hertel as the president of her board.  Hertel comes to the post with 10 years experience as senior vice president and director of corporate operations at Macy’s New York, including helping to produce the annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

"I'm excited about it and think its going to be a great project," Hertel said.

Hertel said he gives Warren a lot of credit for initiating the parade idea and that it will be a tremendous amount of work to pull it off, especially since starting off at square one in year one is always tough.

"Big and wild is better, but these things are actually very sophisticated and have a lot of little details. So I want to make sure she has the support to do this, and when she has meetings people know there is an organization attached with a certain level of competency and commitment to pull it off." Hertel said.

Warren said she hopes to bring in ten professional art car artists for the parades and has already begun working with eight Hamilton County teachers who are interested in creating an art car curriculum in their classrooms this fall. Businesses who might be interested in sponsoring an art car are also being targeted, Warren said.

Board member-at-large, Rebecca Bass, will visit Chattanooga in July for special workshops with nonprofits, teachers and businesses interested in building an art car for the upcoming parade. Bass has taught art car building classes that led to the creation of 19 art cars. Under her direction, students have had their art cars featured on an international level on CNN, FOX, National Geographic, Car and Driver, FX channels Weird Wheels, the New York Times, among many others, it was stated.

While planning continues for the parade, Warren said right now she is focused on the art bike workshops and is also accepting old steel bikes, toddler bikes, tricycles, welding materials, and ornamental metal. They are interested in a variety of items from working whirling pieces to broken gear boxes and grinders. Anyone interested in donating items for a tax deduction can view a complete wish list of items listed here.

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