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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Motorcycles in a graveyard: 'Vroom' exhibit at Forest Lawn Museum




1910 Flying Merkel

1910 Flying Merkel 

'Vroom' motorcycle exhibit revs at Forest Lawn Glendale through Jan. 4
Vehicles on display at Forest Lawn include bikes owned by the likes of Steve McQueen and designer Von Dutch.
The Forest Lawn Museum, at the memorial park's Glendale location, is hosting "Vroom: The Art of the Motorcycle" now through Jan. 4. 

The hand-curated exhibit features 13 rare motorcycles and an esoteric collection of motorcycle-themed art -- including hand-painted gas tanks, black-and-white cartoons, poster art and sculpture.
 The artists and the motorcycle collectors who loaned their machines to the museum are all Southern California based

The collection, co-curated by Forest Lawn's Joan P. Adan and local motorcycle industry veteran John Parker, includes perfectly preserved or restored collectibles, such as a 1910 Flying Merkel and a 1914 Harley-Davidson V-twin, and unusual race bikes like a 1968 ESO speedway competition motorcycle and a stunning 1938 Indian flat track racer.

"Motorcycles in a cemetery!" Parker said, admiring the exhibit. "Isn't it awesome?"

Also currently on hand -- some motorcycles will rotate out as others rotate in -- are Steve McQueen's custom-painted, Galoise-blue 1939 Indian Chief and a rare 1938 Crocker once owned by former Los Angeles Times publisher Otis Chandler.
The bikes are surrounded by a well assembled collection of art pieces. Harley-Davidson's official sculptor Jeff Decker is represented by several stunning pieces -- like Frederick Remington's cowboy sculptures but on motorcycles -- as is Harley's official painter Tom Fritz by multiple racing action canvasses.

 Designer Troy Lee is represented by a collection of custom-painted motorcycle helmets. The show also features gorgeous custom gas tanks by artists Pete "Hot Dog" Finlan and Sara Ray.
Forest Lawn has had a museum at the Glendale property for more than 50 years, though it only began featuring themed exhibits about a decade ago. One of the rooms will feature some of the company's statue collections in a back room while "Vroom" dominates the front

And the gift area features hats designed by Troy Lee and sweaters bearing the North Los Angeles Motorcycle Club badge, alongside traditional Forest Lawn items such as coffee mugs with scenes from the Crucifixion or the Last Supper.

"It's a little weird, but it's not morbid. Death is part of life for motorcyclists," said Parker, whose uncle, Bud Ekins, was motorcycle enthusiast McQueen's stuntman and biking buddy.

Parker learned motorcycles at Ekins' knee and while working for famed motor sports artist Von Dutch -- whose 1953 Moto Guzzi is part of the "Vroom" show.

Active as a racer and now a race team sponsor and race promoter, Parker knew many of the owners of the bikes on exhibit. Some of the bikes, from private collections around the city, haven't been on public display in decades.

"I had to call in some favors," Parker said.

The exhibit space is open every day but Monday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Parking and admission are free.
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