Fort Worth Bike Sharing is rolling out some new art two wheels at a time.

The bike share system, which is part of Trinity Metro, commissioned local artist Gerald Bell to paint 13 bikes that will be revealed to the public on Oct. 20. The bikes will be on display at Gallery 440 and will slowly be released to bike sharing stations across the city.

Former director of FWBS Jennifer Grissom heard Bell give a gallery talk when she had an ‘aha moment.’

If you go

WHEN: 5 p.m. Oct. 20

WHERE: Gallery 440
440 S. Main St.
Fort Worth, TX 76104

Cost: Free

“She just loved what he did. And so that day she asked him, ‘Hey, would you be interested in painting on our bikes?’” Jennifer Henderson, gallery director at Gallery 440, said.

Grissom switched jobs before she was able to see this project come to life, but her successor Shawn Tubre was excited to pick up the torch.

“I’ve loved his (Gerald’s) art,” Tubre said. “And to hear that his art was being painted on 13 bikes that we’re going to be able to distribute out throughout the city and allow people to look at and enjoy and ride was kind of a special thing in my mind.”

The project is a chance for the biking sharing group to show that it is not just about helping people get from point A to B, but is part of the city’s culture as well. 

Patrons will be able to ride the bikes, but they’ll have to find them first.

The bike sharing organization has over 60 docking stations and the team plans to send two of the bikes out right away. The team will add the others into the fleet throughout the year and is treating the rollout like a city-wide scavenger posting clues about the bikes’ locations on Instagram, using the hashtag #FWBikesy. 

“We’re doing a lot of different things here with Fort Worth Bike Sharing. It’s micromobility and it’s first mile/last mile. It’s recreation,” Tubre said. “But now we’ve got a kind of a new element of it where we make it just a fun thing to do.”

The gallery show will be part of Third Thursday, a monthly art walk highlighting creators and businesses in the Near South Side neighborhood. “It’s always a fun night,” Henderson said. “I encourage people to get out and see it … Gerald is going to talk about the bikes, which will be very interesting.”

Bell describes his work as unconventional. Though he typically paints on flat surfaces, he has ventured out before to design skateboard decks, tennis shoes and spray cans before. But this is the first time he has painted bikes.

“You have to do it the right way because these bikes go through a lot of abuse,” he said. “I had to teach myself the process of sanding, priming, preparing, prepping, building a spray tent and all of this stuff. So it is totally different from anything I’ve done.” 

He appreciated the challenge and hopes that more people within the city – tourists and locals alike – will take advantage of the opportunity to see Fort Worth on two wheels.

“When you’re cruising through with a car, it’s different,” he said. “But when you explore on a bike, you get to go through wonderful areas that are not accessible by car.”

Bell said he got into riding in middle school and became more serious about it as a high schooler. He loved the tactile nature of biking and the freedom of knowing that where he went and how fast he got there was entirely up to him.

But, at the time, his parents weren’t able to afford the expensive bikes he dreamed of.

“So I just got like a $100 bike and I modified it. I would go to bike stores, and I would put expensive tape on and I would try to make it look like those $2,000 bikes,” he said. “This comes full circle for me.”

Marcheta Fornoff covers the arts for the Fort Worth Report. Contact her at marcheta.fornoff@fortworthreport.org or on Twitter. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.

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Marcheta FornoffArts & Culture Editor

For just over seven years Marcheta Fornoff performed the high wire act of producing a live morning news program on Minnesota Public Radio. She led a small, but nimble team to cover everything from politics...