Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Royal Enfields at Art Basel: motorcycles as works of art

What's a cute little motorcycle doing amid all these expensive automotive icons?
In the same room are a new Royal Enfield Continental GT motorcycle, a 1958 Ferrari Testa Rossa, a 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing, and a 1957 Jaguar XKSS.

"How much?" a young man asks a salesman, referring to the Jaguar.

"Three-hundred thousand," the salesman replies, "but it's a re-creation."

The young man doesn't blink.

"Do you take AMEX?" he asks.

His friends giggle, so, probably, the young man is joking. But in Miami's too-hip Wynwood art district, who knows?

Sweet whimsy in an art gallery: the Milagros Continental GT at Walt Grace Vintage.
The cars (and the Royal Enfield motorcycle) aren't in a dealership; they're in an art gallery. You don't come to an art gallery looking for practical transportation.

It seems like an odd place for a Royal Enfield (surely the least expensive motor vehicle present).

But, then, so was Art Basel, the edgy, avant-garde art festival in Miami and Miami Beach. By my count, Royal Enfield provided a total of four new motorcycles for commissioned artworks during Art Basel.

I'd seen two: a Royal Enfield Classic suspended in a transparent box, by sculptor Brookhart Jonquil, and a Royal Enfield Classic painted as part of an art installation by the Milagros art collective.

Milagros Continental GT looks, to me, somehow edible.
So, Friday, my wife and I returned to see the other two: the Royal Enfield Continental GT also by Milagros at the Walt Grace Vintage art gallery, and a Continental GT painted by artist Alexander Mijares on exhibit at the Imperial Moto Cafe.

These two will stay on display until Dec. 31, so you still have time to see them.

My wife liked the whimsical design by Milagros on the art gallery motorcycle mentioned above. To me, "whimsical" seemed out of place next to a Ferrari Testa Rossa and Mercedes Gullwing.

She thought the Mijares GT at the cafe looked "splattered" with paint as, indeed, it is.

Splattered with mud? No, with gold paint. The Mijares Continental GT at home in a coffee shop.
But the gold paint imitating the patterns of splashed mud seemed appropriate for a coffee shop that caters to cafe racers.

Imperial Moto Cafe is closed on Sunday, the sign on the door notes, because on Sunday "we ride."

The Mijares Continental GT wears its splattered paint with pride.
The other thing I liked about the Mijares GT was that he thought to paint not only tank, side covers and fenders: he also painted the grips.


Painting the grips struck me as truly inspired.
Yeah, that is right where mud would hit the front fender.

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