Friday, September 25, 2009

Electra Bicycles, Way To Roll 2010

Way To Roll 2010

Bike Activist
Owner, Acamonchi Art Studio

Gerardo Yepiz is in a gang. But don’t worry, they practice non-violence. It’s a bike gang, actually, and they call themselves the Cretins. Gerardo rode with the Cretins the other night and into the early hours of the morning. Aboard every imaginable type of bicycle—mountain bikes, cruisers, low riders, fixed gears, tall bikes,
road bikes, custom-built bikes and others—150 riders dressed in a wild array of outfits took to the streets of San Diego for a pedal-powered party on wheels.

“Bike riding has great potential for friendship and community,” says Gerardo, as he talks about the purpose of these mass rides—to laugh, have fun, meet new people and get crazy on bikes in a peaceful expression of individuality. But in the original spirit of critical mass, these rides harbor an undercurrent of grassroots activism as
well. “There’s a political statement behind it,” says Gerardo. “Reclaiming the streets, making it safe for everyone to ride… and for [motorists] to be more aware and drive safely.”

Driving is something Gerardo knows little about. Although his left bicep is inked with a lime green Volkswagen Beetle tattoo, he’s never owned a car and doesn’t have a driver’s license. “I know how to drive, I just choose not to drive,” says Gerardo. His reasons for living car-free bend towards health, environmentalism and anti-consumerism. “I’m anti-car, but I live up to it.” And the tattoo? “To me, this
tattoo… represents contemporary Mexico City,” explains Gerardo “It tells the story of the Mexico I experience when I’m there—urban Mexico.” Gerardo was born and raised in Ensenada, a small town 70 miles south of the California/Mexico border where as a teenager, he discovered commercial art working at print shops screening t-shirts
and posters.

In his 20s, Gerardo moved to San Diego and opened an art studio called Acamonchi where he creates commercial and fine art in many forms. Tucked in a mixed residential/industrial block of San Diego, Acamonchi is a speck of color in a crowd of apartments, thrift shops, hip neighborhood cafes and the occasional abandoned building. Gerardo is known for his skills in stencil-making and screen printing, and makes posters, t-shirts and other collateral for his clients—mostly action sports brands, bands and a variety of businesses. His fine art, primarily collage-like paintings, is resplendent in color and takes shape across a canvas of recycled and found objects. An expert in mixed-media, Gerardo uses stencils, photographs, block prints, free-drawing and painting techniques to create urban, graffiti-like
pieces that have been shown in museums and galleries worldwide.

Bikes, cars and traffic are prevalent themes in Gerardo’s art, encouraging the viewer to consider their effects on the modern world. For Gerardo, art and bicycling are both outlets by which to express his views on politics, consumerism and social and environmental issues. “Art is such a powerful political tool,” says Gerardo, explaining that, to him, riding bikes is not just a casual activity, but a “political statement” as powerful as his art.

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