ARTBIKE EXTRAVAGANZA & BLOCK PARTY Saturday, May 7th, 2016 at Modern Art (529 W. Chestnut St. Lancaster 17603)
3-7 pm : Block party on the 200 block of North Pine! Free!

6-9 pm After party, $20, all proceeds benefit The Common Wheel. (buy tix here.)

Check out the Cycle de Mayo event page here.

Our favorite community bike center and frequent collaborator, The Common Wheel has set up office in Modern Art and it's time to celebrate! (Well, it WILL BE time to celebrate in May.)

Come spend the afternoon on the lovely 200 block of N. Pine Street— and bring your bike. Libby and Jo will be on hand to help you turn that little two-wheeler of yours into something real special. Not ready to commit to vandalizing your own bike? That's okay! We will have some of our own clunkers on had that you can your own special artistic touch to.
BUT THAT'S NOT ALL....there will be food, games, vendors, bounce house, dunk tank, DJ, face painting, and more. Entrance to the block party is free and open to everyone.

Introducing…The Lemonader!

lemonstbike-13SMALLEver think, "Gosh, those ArtBikes are so darn cool. If only there was a way to use them as an incredibly original marketing tool while also promoting a local and environmentally-friendly lifestyle that I find valuable to our community!"

Well, reader, you are not the only one. We here at Modern Art have been thinking the same thing. That's why we have partnered with The Common Wheel to bring you ArtBike Lancaster. Here is our flagship bike, The Lemonader, a bike we created with Lemon Street Market for their store. Photographs by Code the Photographer from Growing Tree Photography.

I know what you are thinking: "How can I create my own ArtBike for my business/organization?!?" It's simple. Just contact us at Modern Art and we will be happy to get you on your way to a new, socially engaged way of marketing.

weirdo@itsmodernart.com (717)824-5563

ArtBike Lancaster

headerHARNESSING COMMUNITY ENERGYModern Art and The Common Wheel will join forces with your business or organization and talented local art students to create an original ArtBike specific to your needs. The bikes can be used for deliveries, errands, joy-rides . . . the list is endless!

WHAT’S THE POINT? ArtBike Lancaster leverages our city’s best strengths—community collaboration, local businesses, and a commitment to the arts—to encourage biking. The City of Lancaster has stated its interest to bolster its bike infrastructure because it recognizes the advantages to embracing a bike-friendly community. Everyone benefits when more people use bikes! Aside from being just plain fun and healthy, it is also great for our community—reduced congestion downtown, an increase in local small business commerce, a considerable reduction in pollution, emissions and costs associated with automobile use means using your bike instead of your car is one of the best ways to positively impact your community.

By participating, your business/organization will be promoted in a creative, city-friendly way. The bike is a recognizable mobile advertisement that can be parked in front of your establishment or spotted on city streets. In addition to using the bike itself as a marketing tool, your organization will appear in publications and local media with our promotional packaging. Plus you will save money on gas. The bikes represent the creativity and innovation that abounds in our community.

HOW TO GET INVOLVED Want an ArtBike Lancaster bike—for you, your business, or a cause you cherish? Interested in working with us to create these bikes? Contact Modern Art to talk about a commission or ways you can collaborate.

Here are some photos of Lemon Street Market's bike, The Lemonader. lemonstbike-13SMALL lemonstbike-4SMALL lemonstbike-17-2 lemonstbike-7_SMALL

Modern Art 529 West Chestnut Street, Lancaster PA 17603 (717) 824-5563 weirdo@itsmodernart.com



An ArtBike Story

drewandsamanthaOne of our favorite ArtBike stories is about Drew & Samantha. Drew is a neighbor of ours. His daughter Samantha was in town for a bit over the summer. They came by one day to borrow a bike. It went well so they came back again and again warming our hearts with each visit.

ArtBike Case Study #2: The Super Powerful Magic of Failure

Libby Modern paints CASE STUDY #2: The Super Powerful Magic of Failure

 I haven't failed. I've just found the ten thousand ways that won't work. —Thomas Edison

Months ago I came across the quote above—it was the hidden witticism in a New York Times Sunday crossword puzzle, only fully intact when the puzzle had been successfully solved.  Despite weekly attempts, I rarely actually finish the Sunday crossword, so it was with great pride that I found myself in a position to be reading Edison's words of advice. I kept it on my coffee table all week so I could stop and admire my accomplishment. It wasn't until a few days later, after many stops and stares, that Edison's words actually sunk in: I haven't failed if I just found the ten thousand ways that won't work.

Failure. For more than 2 years, I'd been working diligently with some wonderful volunteers and partners on the Super Power Magic Motion Machine (a project conceived to creatively address the issue of climate change, funded by the amazing Invoking the Pause grant). We'd spent countless hours researching, brainstorming, designing, scavenging, building, welding, coaxing generous folks to help....


.....then more dreaming, more design, more ideas....


....after missteps, obstacles, more parts, more metal, more busted tires, toes, and fingers, more redesigns, rewiring, and small explosions, finally, FINALLY we'd created it:


The Super Power Magic Motion Machine: An aluminum bike trailer, which, when stationary, you could attach and stabilize three bikes which, when being pedaled vigorously by three strong adults, could spin a shaft that spun a generator that could power a....

(drum roll please) 

Nicole Heller

...a small light bulb for about 30 seconds.

There it was. Our extremely heavy, awkward, barely mobile, slightly dangerous and not-so-powerful Super Power Magic Motion Machine. Needless to say, it was not the piece of innovative creative genius that we'd spent all those hours dreaming of. In fact, we'd just expended an insane amount of energy creating something that was supposed to show folks how easy it was to create alternative energy. It was discouraging. Desperate not to admit failure, we continued to toy with it. Moved it around. Took off parts. Maybe we could transform it into something else—a stationary piece of public art? A bike rack? An exhibit to show how HARD it is to create energy? Or maybe just an event where we dramatically destroyed the rig and tried to harness all that frustrated energy to power...a tiny light bulb??? Clearly, it was time for a pause. As we paused, we contemplated some of the electricity lessons we'd studied:

Energy is a measure of the capability of an object or system to do work. Energy comes in many forms. Energy cannot be created or destroyed, it can only be changed from one form to another.

Around the same time we had "finished" the SPMMM, I had found beautiful storefront studio to rent. I moved my design business from my home, and with it, moved the SPMMM from the welder's shop who had been helping us build the machine (big shout out to George). We thought we could put the whole project aside for awhile. The rig took up half of the back room. It sat there, daring me not to think about it. I tried to ignore it. I stubbed my toe daily on it, pinched my fingers, pulled my back out whenever I needed to move it (which was often) and constantly yelled to my kids not to touch this thing (this thing that I had bragged was going to be a cool arty educational thing for them!) Folks walked by my studio every day and, seeing it from the window, would ask me what this big aluminum machine was. Sometimes I'd tell them it was just a machine, sometimes open up and give them all the details, but usually I just hopefully replied "its going to be a creative way to harness energy and community spirit"—our original goal. Perhaps if I just said it over and over it would be so.

But the fact was, I couldn't ignore it. I couldn't admit failure.  There had to be a way to turn this project back into what we'd originally imagined: a creative way to harness energy. I knew it would eat at me forever if I just let it die, so I set a date of Lancaster's Spring ArtWalk to turn it into something. We had 3 months. Along with the trailer/machine parts, we'd collected a handful of cheap old bikes that we'd hoped to use to power the project. While working on the trailer, I'd spent much of the time thinking of ways to turn these bikes into pieces of art that would work with the SPMMM—it was a nice break from all the technical aspects of creating the pedal power that were so foreign to me. And something I knew how to do: make art. The light bulb went on: Why not take these bikes, turn them into mobile pieces of art. We could then give them out for anyone to ride, for free. This would get people out biking more, remind them how easy it is and how FUN it is. Lancaster was the perfect place to do this: a city that is flat and small with wide roads and alleys, but that oddly, people are afraid to bike in. The bikes, and their riders, would each be their own Super Power Magic Motion machines. It was a new way to creatively harness community energy and spirit. It would encourage people to do something they like to do that also just might help our warming planet. We are all deeply anxious about climate change, but this project would not be about that anxiety, it would be about having fun. 

We culled more bikes from Craig's List, the classified ads, friends basement, and turned them each into their own conceptual piece. We created "Gosh Yarnnit!", a bike covered in Yarn, The Bookworm (a trike covered with pages from books and with its own mobile library), The Letterman (complete with a 1956 high school yearbook on the handles), and the Pretty Lady (a nice pink number with a vanity mirror), among others. ArtBike was born.

Screen Shot 2014-11-17 at 9.45.42 AM


As we worked on the bikes in the backyard of our studio, we met all sorts of new friends and neighbors who just happened by and helped us fix up the bikes that needed tuning up. In Spring of 2013, at our new studio (now called Modern Art), we opened our doors to anyone who wanted to borrow a bike and explore the city. It was paired with Lancaster's ArtWalk weekend—two days during which galleries all over the city open their doors and put on special events. Folks could grab a bike, an ArtWalk map, and hit all the events on their borrowed bikes. Our first Artbike started with a community bike parade and the momentum has been building ever since. After three successful and fun ArtBike weekends, we now have our fleet available for anyone who'd like to borrow a bike—and its all free.


The reception of ArtBike has continued to inspire and guide our work at Modern Art. How can we work together to create art, harness the exciting and creative energy of our community, and make the world a better place? This last spring, as a sly ode to the light bulb of the Super Power Magic Motion Machine project, we paired ArtBike with an interactive community project called "Ways if I Just".  Jo and I painted the words of the aforementioned Thomas Edison quote on nine pieces of wood, then strategically hid the painted words all over the city in places they'd be seen, but not obvious— Central Market, the Public Library, a coffee shop, a Church garden. On each piece, we included a note on the back reading "Please return to Modern Art. You will be handsomely rewarded". We hung "LOST/REWARD" signs with pictures of the pieces, hoping folks might find them. Not knowing which, if any, would make it back, we were curious to see what sentence the words that did come back might read. (Perhaps just "FAILED" will come back, we joked.) But whatever words did would create a new statement that in itself would be interesting. In the end, seven of the nine words came back, all accompanied by surprised, excited, if not a bit confused, folks who'd found them hidden and answered the call. Each left with a portrait under the winner banner and a fancy new trophy. And quite a few with an Artbike ride to top it off. (Check out some great photos of the event here.) 

About half way through the SPMMM project, when we hit a particularly rough speed bump with the design, I reached out to a friend who runs a huge tour/staging design company to see if he had any advice.  His company builds things like Lady Gaga's 400-ft moving castle and the Olympic's largest human powered screen, so I thought he would be helpful— and he was—I just didn't realize it at the time. He told me I needed to trash the thing and start over. At that point, I was too invested in the project. We'd spent too much time and energy making this big clunky thing, I was going to make it work. "But Libby, it's a prototype," he said "On every project, we always destroy our first prototype. It's part of the process. Making something that doesn't work allows us to learn about what WILL work. Failing is how you learn."

Every failure is a step towards finding out something you didn't know before. Why'd you fail? Sometimes you're asking the wrong question. Or maybe looking for a solution to a problem that isn't the problem you're trying to solve— its a project. An opportunity. When we dreamed up the Super Power Magic Motion machine we were imagining creative ways to address issues of climate change. We'd each been thinking of this problem, and its potential solutions for years and years in our work. It was always something we were trying to solve and we thought so hard about ways to fix it. So hard that we took it literally: we need more alternative energy. We just never thought about exactly what that energy could or should be. Because maybe the problem of climate change, as we understand it, is not what we are trying to solve. Sometimes the answers are not things we HAVE to do, but things we GET to do. We don't HAVE to bike more, we GET to bike more. The answers are right in front of us, we've had the tools for years, its just that we forget about them. Sometimes we need someone to point it out—maybe cover it in yarn—for us to remember.

Check out more Artbike photos here. And the start of some of our great Artbike stories here. And a huge thank you to all of the amazingly generous people involved along the way, those who gave their time, bikes, parts, expertise, advice and support: Jo, Nikki, Marci, Danene, George, Joel, Don, Jessica & Tim, Chris & Brad, Michelle, Steve, Nicole M., Adam, Jacob, Maggie and Invoking the Pause.



Our Identities Unedited...on Wheels

IMG_9627 Lancaster Public Arts Manager, Tracy Beyl, and grammy-winning sound artist Stuart Hyatt grabbed a couple of Modern Artbikes recently for a tour of the City. In partnership with the Lancaster County Community Foundation's Our Identities Unedited project, and the Lancaster Bureau of Public Art, Stuart is creating a “sound map” of Lancaster.

Stuart will be spending hours traversing through areas of our county with an audio field recorder, microphone, and camera- talking to whomever he meets along the way. He'll be gathering stories, moments, music, contradictions  that will ultimately yield a more nuanced sense of place. The resulting sounds and images are being placed in interactive web-based map and gallery.  Hyatt will also use these field recordings to compose an album of original music in collaboration with regional musicians. The album of music will be packaged in a book documenting Hyatt’s explorations of the county.

We are so proud that our ArtBikes got to escort these two around, and can't wait for the grand finale.



Endless Love

lionel_80s Sadly, our dear friend The Lionel has left us unexpectedly last night. With his sleek frame and handsome mug, we're not surprised that someone rode off with him. We just wish we'd had one last chance to express our gratitude for all those smooth rides. If you see Lionel around, give him our love. Stay awesome with your new owner.

And whatever you do, don't go changin'.


Ode to the Bookworm

It's been a mere three months since we bid adieu to our dear friend the Bookworm. And so here, a tribute: Complete with a basket full of compelling books (covering a variety of genres, and including some of our favorites: The Brothers Karamazov, Freedom, How to Talk to Your Dog, Advanced Thermodynamics and Fifty Shades of Gray), the  Bookworm is a fully-functioning mobile library. The advanced checkout system, powered by cutting-edge technology, allows you to check out a book by signing your name on a card attached to each book, then stamping it with the date on which you are asked to return.

After spending much time with the Bookworm, Modern Art decided it was time to set our fine friend free. We donated him to the Lancaster Public Library Art Auction in hopes that he would flourish and prosper with a new group of book lovers. We wish you well, big guy!

An ode to the Bookworm would not be complete without an Ode to two wonderful folks without whom the Bookworm would not be. To Brian Frailey, original namesake of the Bookworm, owner of our favorite bookstore Dogstar Books. Modern Art itself would not be if not for him (and the fact that he moved his store to a bigger location so we could move in to its old place.)

And to the amazing Steve Carlson who so generously lent...then donated....the amazing trike to Modern Art to transform for ArtBike. Thank you, Steve, your kindness will not be forgotten!



bookworm DSC_0038    wheel


ArtBike: Case Study #1 Happy Loving Couple

In honor Modern Art's third ArtBike, and grand pronouncements, we present to you some of our favorite ArtBike case studies. Whether they are life changing for the subjects or just for us is up for debate. But we still like the stories. CASE STUDY #1: Happy Loving Couple



Early on one ArtBike Sunday, a young couple popped in to Modern Art excited about borrowing a couple bikes. They happened to catch us at a slightly chaotic moment (not uncommon)—many children running around, bikes still being set up, furniture being moved around— so before we had a chance to get their names, IDs, and have them sign a waiver, they'd chosen two of our favorite bikes and pedaled off. Oh well, surely they'll come back, we thought.

Hours passed. The day grew cloudy. We lent out more bikes and continued on, wondering who the mystery couple had been.

More hours passed.

More clouds. And rain.

More hours.

We waited nervously, peeking out for the bikes every few minutes.


As the day grew to a close, we really started to worry. Everyone had come back, but our two bikes (one with a gold-framed picture of Jo's husband Jeremy) were still out. Perhaps our naive idea that we could lend bikes out, for free, just for fun, was finally backfiring. It wasn't going to work. Our faith in the inherent goodness of our community started to fade. The bikes were gone. We called it a day and started closing up.

And that's when it happened: As we were locking up,  loud shouts and laughter approached on wheels. Our wheels! Our mystery couple! "WE HAD THE BEST DAY EVER!!" we heard them scream. They jumped off the bikes, ran up to us holding hands and smiling widely at each other. Kissing even. "We went everywhere! All over town! Thank you so much! WE FELL IN LOVE AGAIN! " 

As it turns out, the mystery couple was out for a rare afternoon without their 18-month old. They'd stumbled upon ArtBike, jumped at the chance to ride, and in doing so reset the spark in their relationship. And reset our faith that if you do things just for the love of it, even little things, it'll all work out. People are good. And a day on a bike with some art thrown in can change you. It may just have been our very best Modern Art moment ever.

Here's to you, happy, adorable, lovely ArtBike couple! Thank YOU for changing our lives.





The RETURN of the RETURN of ArtBike

IMG_5576 ArtBike is back, and do we have some wheels for you.  From 12-5pm on May 4-5, our fleet of Artbikes will be up and street-ready for the weekend. Come on over to Modern Art, grab an ArtWalk map, and take your favorite for a spin through the lovely streets of our lovely city. All you need is a smile. (And, preferably, to know how to ride a bike.)

We have about 10 bikes, in various heights, styles and working orders. We've got a few helmets, a pump, locks, and wigs if you need them.

Can’t wait to see you. (In the meantime, check out some of these pics from previous Artbike weekends:)

IMG_5553IMG_5558 IMG_5560IMG_5593 IMG_5600



An important letter from Modern Art Staff:

To Whom it May Concern: While you spin on your ArtBike through Lancaster's ArtWalk, perhaps you'd be willing to look out for some very important items gone missing from Modern Art? They are vital to our next project, which is in production as we write. A gracious, palpable,  colorful award to all who may find and return any of the lost items (you will know them when you see them).

Thank you for your consideration.




IMG_5612 IMG_5618 newmans tracy goshyarnnit IMG_5464megan



The Return of ArtBike

ArtBikeArtBike is back, and we're ready for you and your pedaling feet. From 12-6pm on October 5-6 come swing by Modern Art, hand over a photo ID, then cruise around the grand olde LNC all crazy and stuff.

Maybe you wanna take The Pretty Lady for a spin? Or perhaps you're more the Letterman's type? OR maybe you are a small child, so feeling more like the Nuggit. We'll help you find your 2-wheeled match.

After you've done your spinning, check out our Bizarre Art Bazaar with lovely wares from the likes of some fabulous Modern Artists. Pick up a t-shirt, a onesie, some stickers, a button. You can even take home a lovely reminder of your exciting adventure (and your new bike match), with one of our ArtBike Posters. (They'll look great in your kitchen.)

Can't wait to see you. (In the meantime, check out some of these pics)

lionel IMG_5480 prettylady TheNuggit Ghost Bike Yarnnit

Hey Everybody, it's ART BIKE.

artbikewithtext We're bringing together two real neat things that are bound to make you happy: pretty art and bike riding. Come  borrow a Modern Art bike, grab an ArtWalk map & tour our favorite city. All you need is a photo ID and a smile. Saturday May 4- Sunday May 5, 12-5pm.

For more info, call 610-761-9799.