This one is close to my heart.
Andy Rodriguez of the LACBC recently forwarded an email to me from Brian Yoder of Lore Productions looking for information about fallen cyclists for a Day of the Dead art installation at the Autry Museum in Griffith Park.
We are reaching out to the bicyclist community on behalf of Lore Productions and the Gene Autry National Center – Museum of the American Southwest, located in Los Angeles, California. We are currently preparing for the 2nd annual Day of the Dead cultural festival entitled “Vivan Los Muertos” on October 29, 2011.
Award winning parade float designer and multimedia artist, Marcus Pollitz from Fiesta Parade Floats will be presenting an installation in the form of an altar. His exhibit will be called “A Tribute to Fallen Bicyclists” and is a remembrance of those who have been lost while riding.
We are focusing on raising bicyclist awareness through this cultural event to better educate and inform people about this enduring and growing community.
To make this exhibit even more meaningful, we are asking bicyclist organizations, foundations, family members and friends of fallen riders to share a picture of their loved one that has passed and to include a word on the life that they lived, so that it can be apart of this powerful memorial. In return, we will have a professional photographer capture this memorial on camera and we would like to send you a picture of the exhibit after the event.
Better yet, please make plans to come out to the Gene Autry National Center on October 29, 2011, and experience the tribute in person as it will be a very beautiful memorial with a touching message.
Below are some picture/info links with regards to last year’s event at the Autry Museum & a story on Marcus Pollitz.
Please contact me via e-mail for more information. Please send your digital photo and message to email@example.com
From my perspective, anything that calls attention to epidemic of cycling fatalities on our streets is worth supporting. Especially something that keeps alive the memory of those who have fallen, and remembers them as human beings rather than just victims of our auto-centric society.
So I traded a few emails with Brian, who responded with a more in-depth description of the project.
This project is very important to Marcus Pollitz (the lead artist in charge of this tribute) as he enjoys riding himself. In fact, all of us working on this event at the Autry are passionate about this particular installation as these are very sad and unfortunate events that seemed to get overlooked in society. I think the most important part of the tribute is the pictures and bios of the riders themselves so if you can help by reaching out to the families, friends and bicyclist community through your blog, that would really be incredible.
Here is the artist rendition of the exhibit from Marcus.
The fallen bicyclist display consists of a skeleton figure riding a “Ghost” bike through a neighborhood row of round bushes, bike topiaries, colorful flowers, doors and windows. 50 brightly colorful helmets transformed into skulls will make up the back wall. The number 50 helmets represent fallen riders of each state of the union. In the front, they’ll will be NHTSA info about bicycle deaths and prevention, and framed pictures of lost cyclists.
Every death is tragic. And every cyclist lost on our streets cuts family and friends to the bone, and leaves a whole in their lives and our communities that can never be filled.
I can’t think of a better way to honor those who have lost their lives for no reason other than they chose to ride a bike, at the wrong place and the wrong time, or possibly in the wrong way.
I strongly encourage you to go see the exhibit when it opens.
But more importantly right now, if you’ve lost a loved on riding a bike — here in Southern California or anywhere else, recently or in the past, I urge you to share your story with the artist. I’ll be forwarding a few of the stories we’ve shared here.
Because these aren’t just victims, or even cyclists. They’re mothers and fathers, grandparents, children, brothers and sisters, husbands, wives, lovers, family, friends and co-workers.
And they all deserve to be remembered.
One personal note.
Thirteen years ago, Matthew Shepard was beaten and tied to a fence outside Laramie, Wyoming, and left for dead.
He was found by a passing cyclist the next day, October 7th, who initially mistook his limp, nearly lifeless body for a scarecrow.
His death hit close to home for me. Both because Laramie is less than an hour from where I grew up, and because Shepard used to frequent my home town, feeling it was more accepting of gays than the more conservative town where he attended college.
But more importantly, perhaps, because 17 years earlier, I lost a good friend in a gay bashing, beaten to death in a Cleveland motel because he invited the wrong person back to his room.
Just as no one should ever die because they ride a bike, no one should ever die because of who they are or who they love.
It doesn’t matter if you’re gay or straight.
Everyone deserves the right to live in peace and equality. And be truly accepted and loved for who you are.
Whoever that may be.
I’ll be back later tonight with photos from last year’s Tour de Fat, and notes about this weekend’s CicLAvia.
Right now, I’m going to go ride my bike. And let the wind blow away my tears.