May 24, 2018
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Belfast summer street art to feature bicycle theme

Contributed | BDN
Contributed | BDN
By Abigail Curtis, BDN Staff

BELFAST, Maine — It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s a — bicycle?

Once again, the streets of Belfast are dotted with kinetic artworks based on bicycles, and passers-by already are getting into the swing — or the pedal — of things.

“It adds excitement and creativity,” said Marianne Sandine of Stockton Springs, who was showing some out-of-town visitors the bicycle sculptures Thursday afternoon with her husband.

Despite the rainy weather, the ECo-Motion Interactive Street Sculptures were attracting attention from people who stopped to take photos of the unusual bicycles or to move the pedals with their hands.

The nine bicycles — some brought back from last summer — will be officially unveiled today and remain in town into September, organizers said. This year is the second that the nonprofit arts center Waterfall Arts has been in charge of the summer street art event in Belfast, which continues the tradition begun a decade ago with the popular Belfast Bearfest and revived in 2008 by Belfast Co-Motion, a local group of artisans.

Waterfall renamed the organization ECo-Motion because of the nonprofit’s ecological philosophy. The city of Belfast has contributed money toward the project, and efforts also are supported by the Belfast Downtown Business Group.

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“It’s carrying on the goal of having fun street sculpture,” Martha Piscuskas, director of programming at Waterfall Arts, said Thursday. “All of them are kinetic. They move with a person’s or wind interaction. … They’re made of bicycle parts. There are moving parts — chains and spokes. If you just use common sense, they’re lots of fun.”

Waterfall Arts decided to focus exclusively on bicycles for the street art because the organization is about art, design and sustainability, Piscuskas said.

“Bicycles are a quintessential element of that,” she said. “If you’re biking, you’re not using fossil fuels, generally.”

One of the bicycles, called “Pinwheel” by father-and-son artists Patrick and Victor Plourde from New Gloucester, is a colorful sculpture with plenty of moving gears, bicycle forks and of course, pinwheels. Another looks like a brightly painted dragonfly with wings that flap up and down as its riders pedal. One that Piscuskas said she expects will be “intriguing” all summer features two places to sit and pedal — one that pumps water and the other that moves an umbrella, presumably in defense, although she didn’t get into the damp details.

“The umbrella does a pretty good job. I’ll say that. It definitely needs to be experienced on a hot day,” she said. “Ideally, with caution.”

Phil Sandine contemplated the elaborate contraption that is located at the corner of Main and High streets.

“It really shows ingenuity,” he said.

The Sandines said that the street art makes them want to bring their visitors to Belfast, and Piscuskas said that was one of the project’s goals.

“Part of the original plan was to have the work on the street,” she said. “The businesses wanted to keep things lively on Main Street.”

She described Belfast as an “artist-friendly” town, where art has been a major presence since the 1970s.

“Artists have really contributed to the economy of Belfast,” Piscuskas said. “This tradition of having street sculpture is taking full advantage of this component of our identity. It’s an area where people are going to see a lot of unique work.”

The kickoff for ECo-Motion Interactive Street Sculptures will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. today on Main Street in Belfast. The event coincides with the Belfast First Friday Art Walk and will feature music in the street.

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