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02/08/2007: Extra News: Pedal to the People: Bike Art as Activism
People across Chicagoland are asking themselves, “How can I lighten my impact on the planet and help stop global warming?” The answer: Cut down your reliance on your automobile and start bicycling more. The benefits of bicycling and the damage automobiles do to our society will be explored at the tenth annual Critical Mass Art Show, to be held at Mercury Cafe, 1505 W. Chicago Ave., from Feb. 9 to Feb. 23.
The Critical Mass Art Show features art that celebrates the bicycle as a way for people to connect with their community and be a better citizen. Choosing to travel by bicycle slows down the damage we are doing to our planet – especially the damage done by personal automobiles, which are wreaking havoc with emissions of carbon dioxide and other toxic substances, and are responsible for more than 40,000 deaths a year in the United States alone.
With diversity, vitality and vision, the Critical Mass Art Show celebrates the bicycle as a symbol of self-sufficiency and an elegant solution to congestion, pollution and sprawl produced by the private automobile.
Mercury Cafe owner Cathy Haibach said she is excited for the show to open. Having served as co-curator (and now sole curator) of the Critical Mass Art Show for several years, she is familiar with the series’ ins and outs. The artists come together in a fashion typical of Critical Mass, Haibach says. “Chicago Critical Mass is a group of people that has no leadership. It’s just whoever steps up can do whatever they want.” Like the rides, in which there is no predetermined destination, and the routes are decided by the will of the group as a whole, the artworks on display at Mercury will represent a variety of individuals’ interpretations of the show’s theme.
Previously, the show has been held in art galleries, like Reversible Eye, near Paseo Boricua. This year, Haibach said, it was time to put it in a more public place where passersby and cafe regulars would be more likely to be exposed to the artwork and its messages, both personal and political.
Visit www.bikewinter.org for an update on the Critical Mass Art Show happenings. The 2007 Critical Mass Art Show opening is Friday, Feb. 9, from 7 to 10 p.m.; the closing is Friday, Feb. 23, from 8 to 11:30 p.m.