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TBT: In 2006 we organized a bike and art show in the atrium of Portland City Hall

Posted by on April 23rd, 2020 at 11:46 am

Event flyer.

Bikes and art and friends.
(Photos: J. Maus/BikePortland)

Bikes everywhere outside City Hall.

Publisher’s note: In honor of our 15th birthday, I hope you’ll allow me to reminisce a bit about fun stuff we’ve done over the years. I think it’s important to look back at where we’ve been as a community and ponder how things have changed (and how they haven’t). I also think doing these every so often will be a fun way to help folks new to town (or to this site) learn a bit of our history.

2006 was a great time to be in love with bikes in Portland: We were on the cusp of a big jump in the number of bike commuters, our local custom bike builder scene was about to blow up in a big way, we had a popular and bike-friendly transportation commissioner (Sam Adams), bicycling was a winning political issue, and Portland felt like the epicenter of cycling in America.

By July of 2006 I’d been doing BikePortland for over a year. I was riding a wave of optimism, excitement, and enthusiasm around cycling I thought would never end. Part of what fueled my fire in those days were all the bike-inspired artisans I’d gotten to meet through BikePortland. At that time I also had some great contacts at City Hall and it felt completely natural to propose a bike event in City Hall for First Thursday. I’m pretty sure the staffers at Commissioner Adams’ office were just as excited about it as I was.

The event was a huge success. City Hall surrenders to cycling scene, was the headline to the recap the morning after.


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Imagine the scene: Adams’ office door wide open and all types of Portland bike scene-makers (including Zoobombers!) hanging out, drinking beer, and clowning around; piles of freak bikes parked in the plaza out front; bike-making luminaries like Natalie Ramsland (Sweetpea Bicycles), Sacha White (formerly Vanilla Bicycles), Ira Ryan (then Ira Ryan Cycles, now Breadwinner Cycles), Tony Pereira (then Pereira Cycles, now Breadwinner Cycles), Chris King (of Chris King Precision Components), and others chatting it up and comparing notes; and artists like Shawn Granton (Urban Adventure League), Carye Bye (Red Bat Press, now in San Antonio), and Tiago Denczuk sharing their work with the big crowd.

City Hall hasn’t looked like this in ages.

One commenter on our recap of the event said it best: “Yes, I had many a ‘I love Portland’ moment last night… Was it the art in everyone’s offices? Drinking free beer in City Hall while perusing an 1897 bike map on someone’s wall? Which did I like ogling more, all the beautiful handbuilt bikes in the rotunda, or everyone’s magnificent steeds parked outside? Anyway, it was great fun.”

And Adams’ Chief of Staff summed up the event by saying, “Of all the First Thursday’s we’ve held here at City Hall, this one looks the most like Portland to me.”

Were you there? Any familiar faces in these photos? Any memories to share?

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org
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NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

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Ron RichingsJonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)Carye ByeAlan 1.0one Recent comment authors
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PTB
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PTB

There’s a Portland that doesn’t exist anymore!

Bikeninja
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Bikeninja

To quote the great Joni Mitchell , ” You don’t really know what you got till its gone.” and in the same spirit,” They closed all the shops and put up a scooter stand.”

adventure!
Guest

Such good times!

Hey Jonathan, are you sure that the second picture is from this show?

I ask because it has Tiago’s Pedalpalooza poster art. He did the poster in 2008 (I think), so it wouldn’t have been seen at this show in 2006. (I did the poster in 2004, 2005, and 2006) That particular photo may have been from the “Cycle Seen” show that Rachel Siegel put together in June of 2008.

one
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I also felt that this even maybe happened in 2008. Maybe during the Towards Car Free Cities Conference. I seem to recall Sara Stout involved?

Alan 1.0
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I didn’t make it to that event. I was just discovering the Portland bicycle scene around that time. Looks and sounds very fun!

First Thursdays, though, remind me of the early ’90s when I was hanging around the Pearl district, and art was everywhere…Quarter Saw, Giant Steps, Blackfish*, real studios in Irving Street Lofts, the Lovejoy viaduct columns… Bikes weren’t a cultural thing, at least not that I was aware of, but were deeply engrained in daily routines like runs to Art Media or the hobby store on Broadway or various hardwares in the SEID. No one bothered the cable lock on my Continental; we did store them indoors, though.

So, yeah, time keeps on moving, some things change, others remain. It’s amazing and wonderful that Portland took out Harbor Drive, stopped the Mount Hood Freeway/I-505, and built MAX. It’s sad to see Portland missing big urban opportunities again and again. It’s great to see Pedalpalooza (next article down) and HealthierHawthorne.com (three articles up) adapting to the current challenge. I wish City of Portland would do it, too.

My perception of that earlier zeitgeist is that the source of the innovation for those big changes came from the bottom up. That is, the artists and visionaries and citizens sharing those visions drove at least as much of the change as did the mayors or councilors. That might have changed? Not so much that there are no visionaries and activists – there are! – but that the political leaders aren’t doing their part, even if theirs is not the lion’s share of achieving the vision.

*I feel like I’m blocking out its original name at that time…

Carye Bye
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Carye Bye

Jonathan I can’t tell you how thankful I am for all your documentation of the Portland bike scene in the OOs…. yeah, this City Hall Bike Show was such a blast and it really proved we were the IT scene of the time! I’ve been doing my own digging just this week since I’m in process of my Bikey Life scrapbook and was just looking at these very pictures this week. Here’s my old Flickr Set of the scene (I was a bit of the documentarian myself as you will recall)…

https://www.flickr.com/photos/redbat/albums/72157594190776458

and specifically of my art show in Sam Adam’s office: https://www.flickr.com/photos/redbat/albums/72157594190810246
Sam later bought the red framed Bunny on a Bike.

Thanks for sharing again… I can reminisce about this time any day of the week.. It made me who I am today!

Ron Richings
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Ron Richings

Hi Jonathan. 2006 was my first real contact with Portland bike culture and the folks involved in it. Rode down from Seattle as part of the STP mass ride – just me and 11,000 close friends. Spent just a short time in Portland though as it was around 100 degrees in early July. Way too hot for me so I rode out to the coast and did some bike camping down to Florence. But the contacts I made and bikey stuff that I connected with set the stage for a decade or so of at least yearly visits to Portland, rides (both ridden and led) via Pedalpalooza, and friendships that continue to this day. Plus gave me the inspiration for Velopalooza that we created in Vancouver, BC.