“Cyclisk”, a 65-foot tall, 10,000 lb. sculpture made from discarded bicycle parts, was installed in Santa Rosa, CA last week. The piece was created by artists Mark Grieve and Ilana Spector as part of the Art in Public Spaces program. The project was funded through a 1% tax for public art that is levied on commercial projects that exceed $500,000 in building cost. Ironically, this particular project was funded by a Nissan dealership, and the sculpture is displayed in an area that is heavy on auto-related businesses. The following is from the artwork proposal:

“Made of recycled bicycle gears, rims, frames and hoops, [Cyclisk] will be a series of intersecting rhythms — a visual metaphor for the human experience — technology and the humanities — history and the future — individual and collective. Evoking a ‘world of possibilities,’ it will be a work communicating to all walks of life — all ages, relevant for years to come….”

“Collecting unusable parts from the debris piles of nonprofit community bike projects has proven to be a win-win; community bike DIY places are thrilled unusable parts are not becoming land fill and the City is psyched the sculpture will solidify Santa Rosa as bike-friendly.”

A dedication is planned for early October.

City of Santa Rosa
Press Democrat Article

27 Responses to “Cyclisk”

  • Tamia says:

    I’d rather they made a 65-foot tall, 10,000 lb tower of compressed discarded motor vehicle parts!

  • Michael says:

    Sorry. Just a very large pile………………of old parts. Funded by tax dollars. I believe that funding should have gone to infrastructure. Not to mention in a state that’s paying employees in IOUs. It’s becoming clearer why that is. Just an opinion and we all know about them………..

  • Pete says:

    There’s a peculiar irony to installing a sculpture of crushed bike parts next to an auto dealership as a sign that your town is “bike friendly!”

    Cool sculpture nonetheless. It might need a sign on it, though: “No usable bikes were harmed in the making of this artwork.”

  • Stuart says:

    I wonder if they’re all old schwinn frames and Wally world bikes? I’ll bet someone with a discerning eye for bicycles could have a field day identifying the visible frames of the Cyclisk.

  • John Boyer says:

    From the POV of the Sacramento Bicycle Kitchen Im squinting and hoping this is made of 100% box(department) store bikes!

  • Bob B says:

    Yeah, I’m hoping they are all department store bikes as well. My first thought was to get in there and see if there are any good recyclable parts.

  • Alan says:

    @Bob & John

    No worries. This is from Ilana, one of the artists:

    “Collecting unusable parts from the debris piles of nonprofit community bike projects.” [emphasis added]


    “Community bike DIY places are thrilled unusable parts are not becoming land fill.”

  • Fenway says:

    I really wish that the tax money used for this went to funding bicycling infrastructure instead of this nonsense which will eventually cost even more taxpayer money to dismantle.

  • Pete says:

    These 1% for art programs are not traditional taxes as much as they are a sort of zoning or building code requirement (at least in other cities – I don’t know about this specific program). The owner of the building is required to commit funds to a public artwork as a condition of receiving permission to build a (usually hideous) building. Just because this particular artwork happens to be about bicycles doesn’t mean those funds can be applied to bike infrastructure or anything else. One can argue the merits of these programs themselves, but it’s not accurate to call them “your tax dollars.”
    Personally, I’d love to see a program where developers can spend money on bike infrastructure that they’d otherwise be required to spend on parking. But I’m not aware of any program like that.

  • j. pierce says:

    “Community bike DIY places are thrilled unusable parts are not becoming land fill.”

    I can’t imagine not being excited that your unusable parts are being used in a creative way, but out here, all the places that deal in used bicycles have large collections of unsused parts, and all those steel and aluminum parts go to the scrap yard for recycling. My understanding is that if the price or scrap is high enough, there can even a little bit of money to be made. Certainly no one is dumping steel in a landfill, and I don’t think that tower is built of tires and carbon frames, is it?

  • Lee Trampleasure says:

    Regarding landfilling steel: In the early 90’s I was hauling a 24′ truck with many dead washers and other appliances to the “dump” (transfer station) in San Leandro (east SF Bay area). When I got up to the weight station to enter the transfer station, the guy at the gate told me to take it back down the street a block and the scrap yard would pay me for the steel in the appliances. After unloading all the appliances, I was paid enough to cover the cost for the rest of the garbage that I still had to discard.

  • Larry says:

    I like the idea of re-using unusable old parts as art. Things like clocks made from old chain-rings, or mobiles made from various small parts, are great. And certainly taste for art is subjective.

    But I don’t like this sculpture. I fear that it could easily be interpreted by a viewer as implying that bikes are impermanent, disposable junk (in which case the location in front of a car dealer might be more insidious than ironic). The advocate/propagandist in me would much rather see a giant heap of car junk, rather than bike junk.

    A sculpture that glamorizes cycling, or a sculpture that looks like something (a person? a tree? a flower?) and made of bike parts would be far more appealing. If incredible sculpture can be created using lego blocks (, imagine how much more could be done with bike parts.

  • AJ says:

    Something about this pile of metal bothers me, but I’m not sure I can put my finger on it. First, are those parts truly “unusable”? Could many bicycles be put together from the various parts there? I think it looks ghastly now, but what will it look like when it rusts? Landfills fill from the ground down; this thing is filling from the ground up.


  • Molnar says:

    Two questions have been raised in the comments (maybe indirectly): Should tax money be spent on art? Is the particular example shown good art?

    I know that as of a few years ago, and it’s probably still true, the city of Berlin (not Germany as a whole) spent more money on the arts than was allocated in the U.S. federal budget. There is a discussion to be had on what is the proper relationship of government to art in a modern country. On the one hand, civilization is largely defined by its artistic accomplishments – who among us thinks it was a good thing for Beethoven and so many other great artists to have died destitute? On the other hand, it has been pointed out that if the U.S. had a Minister of Culture, it would probably be Clint Eastwood.

    Which brings us to the second question: Is it good? I can’t say that I’m impressed based on the photo, but I can say that if my judgments about contemporary art were infallible, I would be unique in human history.

  • J. Stracco says:

    Disturbing. Sadly this type of “Sculpture” is becoming more common in the bike parking lots of Beijing….except with more rust. Sad to see it in the US.


  • randomray says:

    Man , I need the red and white seat half way up the picture .

  • Ralph Aichinger says:

    I think Molnar in the previous commment (maybe there are some unmoderated inbetween) is completely right with his questions.

    I am firmly on the side of “yes, the taxpayer should fund the arts” on the first question. I think not funding the arts would be at least as bad as not funding roads or the military. Even in very market-oriented societies there is a consensus that most roads and defence should be funded by government. I do not see how the arts are any different.

    Is it good art? I don’t know, but at least it makes me think and ask questions:

    How many of these cheap big box store bikes are actually ridden more often than once or twice and then put away?

    How can it be that so many bicycles are sold each year, and so few actually used in traffic?

    Like a fine mechanical watch a decent bicycle is almost indefinitely repariable. You can swap out individual broken parts, until nothing but the frame is the same. But do people actually want to do this, unless it is an expensive handbuilt Italian frame, or a Rivendell or something?

    I have no doubt, that they overlooked a Campagnolo crank or a Colnago frame somewhere in there, but 99,99% of this heap of bike parts is stuff that most of us here would never ever want to ride. I don’t buy that criticism of wasting good bikes. It’s really sad somehow: Most bikes sold new are so bad, that I would not bother riding them.

  • Pete says:

    Please, let’s get this straight. While taxpayer-funded art is a valid question for debate, this is NOT taxpayer funded art in the typical sense. The cost is paid entirely by the owner of the building. (Of course, the owner is a taxpayer, but this in not funded “by taxpayers” any more than any other fee a person pays, like a building permit, is paid “by taxpayers’)
    These projects are usually constructed on, and quite often inside, the property being developed. This is an unusual case of the city and building owner agreeing to put it on public property. So in this case, there may be some cost to the city for maintenance or eventual demolition. This is rare. Usually there is no direct cost to taxpayers in 1% for art programs.

  • randomray says:

    The bike ” places ” they got these from could recycle the steel and aluminum if the wanted and yes they would be paid for it . Not much for steel , more for aluminum though . This is highly recyclable . Some things like gold have been recycled for more the 5,000 years and steel more then 2,500 years , aluminum about 75 years and carbon fiber Never .
    I would need a better picture of the whole Cyclisk to decide if I like it .

  • Lee Trampleasure says:

    Here’s some more photos:

    If you Google cyclisk, ecovelo is the second result :-)

  • Jonathan Krall says:

    Hmmmm… Nissan is _required_ to fund a public art project through Santa Rosa’s “1% for art” program. So what do they fund? A huge monument that equates bicycles with junk. Why not put up a large billboard displaying smashed bicycles along with the slogan “Wouldn’t you be safer in a car?” I am all for modest taxes (1%) going to support public art, but am not at all happy to see such a self-serving result.

    IMO, whoever approves these projects should have recognized the self-serving nature of this project and disallowed it. FYI, this efforts seems to fall under Santa Rosa’s Recreation and Parks department; they can be contacted at

  • Alan says:

    That’s an interesting interpretation. The sculpture reminds me of the obelisk at the Washington monument, and in my mind it symbolizes the triumph of the bicycle over the automobile. I guess that’s what makes art so interesting.


    PS – I know for a fact the artists are bicycle-friendly, so I don’t think the sculpture was created on behalf of the Nissan dealership.

  • randomray says:

    Many of their other cycle art sculptures are very positive , pro-cycling . I really like their arches built with wheels and the bicycle arch at Burning Man built with the hundreds of bicycles abandoned there every year . Wouldn’t be ironic if the dealership were only there a few years and the Cyclisk endured ?

  • Doug R. says:

    The Borg have arrived at Wolf 359, and now Santa Rosa!

  • Scott Wayland says:

    I’m not happy at the thought of individual businesses being soaked for this “art.” At first, I sort of liked it, but mostly it’s just a pile of what will soon be dripping rust. And few things are as nauseating as writing about art–and the inflated sense of importance it expresses:

    “[Cyclisk] will be a series of intersecting rhythms – a visual metaphor for the human experience – technology and the humanities – history and the future – individual and collective. Evoking a ‘world of possibilities,’ it will be a work communicating to all walks of life – all ages, relevant for years to come….”

    Er, “metaphor for human experience”? Yeah, terrible bike-wrecking, human injuring accidents! Yup, that’s what I see. “World of possibilities”? That hundreds of bikes that should have been constructed to last, that should still be in use for joy and practical application have now been smashed, welded, propped up to rot at the cost of extorting the funds from a local business? What a world of possibilities.

    Not impressed–except at all that welding! That’s one hell of a lot of welding!

  • Jonathan Krall says:

    My understanding is that context matters a great deal with public art. The web site clearly states that the work was commissioned by both the Nissan dealership and Santa Rosa, so the Nissan dealership clearly had a voice in the selection of this artwork.

    I “get” that the artists are upbeat on cycling. However, the work can still be placed in a context that subverts the artist’s intent. IMO, this is what happened.

  • ganesha says:

    I do not like the use that was given to bicycles

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