By Jamie Larson
There’s something captivating about shiny chrome, matte black rubber, the curve of a gas tank or sloping fender. These lines, shapes and textures make up the motorcycles that descend on Kent, Conn. during good weather weekends and are also the muse of photographer Gary Halby
. Now a collection of his photographs, from his book The Art of the Ride
will be on display in Kent at The Good Gallery
The images are zoomed in, focused on elements of the bike, rather than the entire machine. The bikes are broken down to their most basic and photogenic characteristics. Some photos border on abstraction but there is something in each photo that captures the power, grit and grace that is unmistakably Motorcycle.
“I’m not a biker. I’m a photographer," Halby said. “I’ve been a photographer my whole life. The thing that attracts me most (to motorcycles) is their graphic quality. I’m really interested in their reflective quality. The wheels are like from a chariot in Game of Thrones
The month-long exhibit, kicking off with an opening reception this Saturday (noon to 7 p.m.) will be unique for a number of reasons, according to gallery owner Tim Good. This will be the first photography-only exhibition in the venue’s six-year history and the subject of those photos will create an interesting atmosphere as Kent’s refined ambience converges with the controlled chaos of a biker rally. Good expects a sizable crowd of bikers to come to the gallery for the opening and throughout the month. He says he’s not completely sure what to expect — and that’s exciting.
“Not only are they really, really good photos," said Good who, for Saturday’s occasion, will also display a custom motorcycle in the gallery from neighboring Iron Horse Custom Motorcycles
. “The work also shows an affinity for Kent and it’s a way to give back to the bikers in a real way."
Halby, who splits his time between Cornwall and Manhattan, says he was in town one day, three years ago, running errands when he saw the bikes and became fixated on the chrome.
He talks about motorcycles like a nature photographer catching the perfect composition of a sunset. Each image captures not just interesting forms but also a unique moment. This sense is helped by the fact he’s taking his photos out in the wild (on the street). He could take the same photo at the same angle in a studio, but it wouldn’t capture the life and story of the bike the way his method does, picking up the colors of the world around, reflected in the chrome.
“The hardest part is not getting yourself in the reflection," Halby said, only half joking.
Bikers are a close-knit community and even though Halby doesn’t ride himself, he said he has gotten to know many of those who come to Kent regularly. They are enthusiastic about his project and the reverence he pays the vehicles they love.
“I feel very much a part of the crew." he said. “I just don’t go 100 miles an hour on back roads with them. I’m a little more conservative than that. There’s a great group I’ve become friendly with. They’re weekend warriors, professionals, with really amazing bikes."
Good said the well-heeled, bucolic way of life in Kent and that of the bikers are two worlds that don’t just coexist, but overlap. This particular group of bikers, many with significant day jobs and expensive bikes (that are in themselves art objects) ride to Kent to experience the culture. With this exhibit they and their motorcycles are now a part of that culture, framed and proudly displayed on The Good Gallery's walls.
to Mark Williams, Rural Intelligence
publisher, in conversation with photographer Gary Halby and Tim Good of the Good Gallery, as they discuss how the exhibit came about.
The Art of the Ride at The Good Gallery
Opening event: Saturday July 9
Noon to 7 p.m. (Rain date Sunday, July 10)
Good Gallery 0pen every day, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
13 Railroad Street, Kent, CT