Artists align for a community poster festival celebrating bicycles


Started in Minneapolis just three years ago, the Artcrank show was a quick, fun way to publicize local artists by inviting them to create posters about bike culture. Since then, the concept has spread with lightning speed to cities like Portland, San Francisco, Des Moines and even London. With new cities taking part every year, “Artcrank is growing roughly 10-15% faster than I can keep up with,” said Charles Youel, Artcrank’s director and curator—not a bad problem to have.


“Accessibility is a big part of what makes the show unique,” Youel explains. Local works on display each sell for an affordable $30 apiece at each venue. “The more accessible those experiences are, the more diverse and interesting a biking and artistic culture becomes. I see people arriving on bikes, discovering local artists they’ve never heard of and connecting with causes. If free beer and cheap posters are the catalyst for that, it’s cool by me,” continues Youel.


Another central component to Artcrank is ensuring every show reflects the character of the community. At Portland’s show tonight (7 October 2010) Deschutes Brewery will offer free beer at the Ace Hotel Cleaners, an old laundry facility the Ace Hotel Portland converted into their own event space. “Having local partners and sponsors who support the show is a very important part of making Artcrank a more sustainable proposition,” said Youel.

Local artists featured in Portland’s show include Aaron James of MathDept, Martha Koenig, the husband-and-wife team of Truen and Julia Pence who make up Craft Services Design Co. and numerous others. In many cities, Youel posts an open call for artists on Facebook or Twitter. However, in a more established bike mecca such as Portland, he often contacts the artists personally to request submissions.


“When we first started entertaining the idea of doing shows beyond Minneapolis, I thought, ‘Well, this will work in places like Portland and San Francisco.’ And I figured that would be it,” said Youel. “Since then, we’ve seen the show catch on very quickly. We’re betting that Artcrank can and will work anywhere that people love bikes and art. So far, it’s a bet we’ve won every single time.”


Artcrank Portland will take place at the Ace Hotel Cleaners at from 5-11pm. All proceeds from the show will go to Bikes to Rwanda, a nonprofit that provides cargo bicycles to farmers in Rwanda as transportation for basic needs and coffee hauling. Other upcoming shows include Artcrank SFO at the Chrome store, and Bend, Oregon in December.

Also on Cool Hunting: Joy Ride Art Shows