A few months back, maybe around mid June, I received a phone call from the living legend Michael Lichter. For those who may not know who Michael Lichter is, he is a world renowned photographer in the motorcycle community/industry with his primary work for Easy Riders Magazine. Michael has been published in practically everything that is motorcycle related over the last 40 years, and is one of the hardest working people in the business. I'm not really sure how he even acquired my phone number but it was a real shock to hear from him. He called to thank me for the copy of Forever The Chaos Life: Legends I sent him and he told me how much he enjoyed the book. Michael then asked me if I would be interested in possibly showing off some of my work at his Motorcycles As Art exhibit he throws every year at The World Famous Buffalo Chip in Sturgis, SD. I couldn't believe my ears and immediately said yes without even hearing any of the details. He asked my age and then got really stoked when he learned I am only 32.
The theme for this year's Motorcycles As Art Exhibit was called "Old Iron, Young Blood" which focused on the "Millennials" of the motorcycle industry. There was an age requirement of 35 years or younger to be able to showcase in this year's show. Michael's main goal was to show the industry and the older generations the stereo types of the "Millennials" is bogus and there are some really talented and extremely hard working youth in the motorcycle industry today.
Michael informed me of some of the talent that would be in the show and and he strongly encouraged me to come out and experience the show first hand. All I could keep saying was yes. With a ton of joy and excitement I made my final selection of photos over the next few weeks of what I would frame and put in the show. I then made my plans with my team here at Lowbrow to get out there. No one from Lowbrow Customs has ever been to Sturgis, so being apart of this history making show was a nice little incentive to actually go to Sturgis 2017 and experience it first hand.
Motorcycles As Art Exhibit was first started in 2001 and has always been held at The Buffalo Chip. The venue where the show takes place in a 7000 square foot building that was specifically built for Michael's show. Each year the theme changes on what is curated in the show, but it never lacks ingenuity, creativity or craftsmanship, Michael always brings in the worlds best builders and artists that fit said theme each and every single year.
Not really knowing what to expect when I walked into the venue's doors, my jaw dropped in awe as my eyes adjusted from being outside. My framed photos were the first thing you saw from the main entrance on the right wall. It was an surreal moment and all I could do was smile and feel a real sense of joy. As I stepped back to take it all in I realized how massive the venue was. The spaces was just overwhelmingly beautiful. Bikes were spread out over the entire floor evenly and on four different tiered riser set ups. Each bike had their own huge spot lights that were dedicated to it; I would described as perfectly lit. Each art piece was hanging perfectly level on the walls had it's very own dedicated light as well. You could tell Michael and his team thought of everything when it came to the layout of this show. It left me speechless to be honest.
One thing that was really cool about this show was on media day, everyone that was part of the show and present had a few minutes to talk about their motorcycle build and/or art. Learning more about everyone in the show and putting a few faces I didn't recognize to names that I did know, was a real treat. I don't even remember what I said when I had the opportunity to talk about myself and photography, but like most others I think I stared down towards the ground a bit, looked around a few times smiling and then gave Michael back the microphone in a blink of an eye. Little touches like this make this show stand out to me way more than any other show I have ever been to.
Overall, this show was a 10 out of 10 in my book. From the extremely well thought out theme, to the execution and layout of the entire show. I have never been to anything so polished and nice like this before. The bio plaques let you get into the minds of the builders and artists a little more and the presentation of everything made you just want to stay in the venue for hours. I know I took some notes on how to incorporate a little more polishing to Fuel Cleveland in the future because of this show and I learned a great deal.
The entire experience of being in this show for me was surreal. To even be considered to showcase with so many talented builders and artists I look up to was a such a huge honor for me. I'm extremely grateful for the opportunity. I think I have thanked Michael a million times over and will continue to do so for a long time to come.
If you ever go to Sturgis make sure to stop by The Buffalo Chip and see Michael Lichter's Motorcycles As Art Exhibit. Though there will be a new theme for next year's show and the following year after that. You can trust Michael Lichter's vision, curation and eye for immaculate details when it comes to putting on a motorcycle show. I promise you won't be disappointed. Oh, and it's always completely free for everyone to attend, so you can't go wrong there!
-Words and photos by: