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Velo Art and Greg Curnoe’s Marvellous Mariposa

Graffiti Art and the Velo

According to Bob Dong of Union Street Cycles in Vancouver’s historic Chinatown bikes are increasingly creative manifestations of those who ride them. Bikes are objet d’art; objects of art.

More and more people are asking for customized touches: rims, pedals, wheels, spokes and bells creating a ride as artful expressions.

The adoration runs deep as exemplified pop artist Greg Curnoe, a Canadian who memorialized his Mariposa in a series of paintings. Curnoe co-founded Canadian Artists’ Representation with Jack Chambers in 1968, the national voice of Canada's professional visual artists.

Greg Curnoe Self-Portrait

Curnoe also represented Canada at the Venice Biennale in 1976. Additionally, his work was the subject of a retrospective exhibition at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts in 1981, which toured across Canada.

An avid cyclist, his hand-built Mariposa bicycles were the subject of his art, one of which is currently on display at the Vancouver Art Gallery as part of an exhibition called, A Curators View: Ian Tom Selects.

Beloved Mariposa

Tragically, on a group ride with the London Centennial Wheelers, Curnoe was killed while riding his beloved Mariposa by a careening pick up truck.

As Dong points out: “Curnoe lived and died doing what he loved, and his bike was a huge part of it!”

A Curator’s View: Ian Tom Selects is on at the VAG from Sept 22-March 17, 2019

Diana Mogensen is a Docent in training at the Vancouver Art Gallery


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