The Motorcycle as Art

ruth in chaps

Art  ~ the quality, production, expression, or realm, according to aesthetic principles, of what is beautiful,appealing, or of more than ordinary significance.

All things being equal, if art is defined as an expression of what is beautiful, then I would be remiss to look past the motorcycle as art. A couple of weeks ago, the Easy Rider Bike Show was in Nashville wherein dozens of incredible custom built bikes decked out in detailed chrome work and artful paint jobs were exhibited at the Nashville Convention Center.

motorcycle 1

The biker culture proves to be an interesting subculture at the very least. The history of the biker community dates back to post WWII, but really came into it’s own in the late 1960s and early 1970s after the Vietnam War. One of the best movies I have seen on the subject is the 1969 EASY RIDER film written by Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper, and Terry Southern, and co-starred always cool Jack Nicholson. The film is about a couple of bikers traveling through the South on motorcycles in the 1960s.  Although it sparked a lot of controversy at the time because of it’s unabashed depiction of drugs, hippies, communes, and counter-culture life, it has become a classic and is considered one of the most influential movies of the 20th Century, so much so, that it was added to the Library in Congress in 1998.


Suffice to say, the Easy Rider film has much to offer those of us too young to remember biker life before the ever popular television drama Sons of Anarchy . While the film and television drama differ dramatically, they both seek to drive home the point of the culture, which is individual freedom. One of the most profound scenes from Easy Rider is the one where the young lawyer, Jack Nicholson, explains to Dennis Hopper that people don’t hate them (bikers) but hate what they represent ~ individual freedom.


Art is the manifestation of the desire for individual freedom and more importantly, freedom of expression. While many claim that they support individual freedom of expression,  for most, they fear the way it looks.

me and Mark me in glasses motorcycleme


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