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Sweeney Art Gallery Reopens Oct. 7

Sweeney Art Gallery Reopens Oct. 7

Exhibitions on bike culture and pedal cars celebrate the gallery’s new home in the Culver Center of the Arts.

(September 28, 2010)

Samuel Starr¹s Circulus, 2010, a 50-foot-diameter bicycle track, was<br />
originally installed in the decommissioned Seeley G. Mudd Science Library of Pomona College. The project effectively transformed the library into a velodrome, juxtaposing the movement and noise of the bicycle and rider with a silent reverence implicit in the library.<br />

Samuel Starr¹s Circulus, 2010, a 50-foot-diameter bicycle track, was
originally installed in the decommissioned Seeley G. Mudd Science Library of Pomona College. The project effectively transformed the library into a velodrome, juxtaposing the movement and noise of the bicycle and rider with a silent reverence implicit in the library.

RIVERSIDE, Calif. – The UCR Sweeney Art Gallery will celebrate Southern California’s bike culture and delightful pedal cars in two exhibitions whose debut coincides with the gallery’s grand reopening Oct. 7 in the Barbara and Art Culver Center of the Arts.

The exhibitions will be open during two days of public events celebrating the grand opening of the Culver Center in the ARTSblock on the downtown Riverside pedestrian mall and will remain on display through Dec. 31. The Sweeney gallery is located in the Culver Center, 3834 Main St.

The Culver Center celebration kicks off on Thursday, Oct. 7, with performances by Riverside community arts groups from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., and a day of films on Friday, Oct. 8, featuring classic Hollywood and award-winning independent films screening from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. Events both days will be free. Schedules for opening performances, screenings and exhibitions are available at; click on “Gala Opening.”

The gala reception on Saturday, Oct. 9, will feature special entertainment and food from 6 to 9 p.m. Tickets are $150 per person. The center will be closed to the public on that day. A downloadable order form is available online at For information call (951) 827-4290.

The relocated Sweeney Art Gallery and the Culver Center join the UCR/California Museum of Photography in the UCR ARTSblock, located in the 3800 block of Main Street.

The exhibit “Re:Cycle – Bike Culture in Southern California” includes 30 artists and collectives that use the bicycle as both a metaphor and a realization for restructuring the urban environment. It coincides with Riverside’s inaugural 2010 Riverside Citrus Classic Bike Run on Oct. 17, and other initiatives by the city to generate a regional bike culture. Support for the exhibition comes from JensonUSA, UCR’s College of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences, and The Riverside Marriott. Support for public programming has been provided by the City of Riverside.

“In the past few years, bicycle activists, advocates and aficionados have proven to be vociferous in their desire for reimagining city landscapes in the U.S., such as Los Angeles, that have been built around the automobile as the primary mode of transportation,” said Tyler Stallings, director of the Sweeney and artistic director of the Culver Center. “However, contrary to this view, significant ‘bike cultures’ have developed throughout the Southern California region in the past few years. It is a reflection of a shifting value system that looks toward alternate means of transportation, the promotion of healthy lifestyles, and a cultural shift from consumption to sustainability.”

The 4,000-square-foot exhibition will be displayed in both the Sweeney gallery and the Culver’s Atrium Gallery. The artists represent a range from recent graduates to those in mid-career, and have been selected from Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, and San Diego counties, Stallings said. The works are mostly sculptural in nature as they incorporate actual bicycles, but the exhibition also includes drawing, photography, public actions, and video.

The second exhibition, “Vehicles of Imagination: A Selection of Pedal Cars from the David Whitmire Hearst Jr. Foundation Collection,” features various pedal cars and pedal airplanes suspended from steel trusses beneath the skylight in the Culver atrium.

Pedal cars were popular children’s toys from the 1890s through the 1970s, Stallings noted. “Like bicycles, pedal cars were operated by human power, giving children a feeling of power and importance and providing the make-believe that they were operating a real car. Some featured headlights, horns and custom paint jobs, but the pedal car’s most important quality was as a vehicle for imaginative play and fantasy,” he said. “Most were replicas of automobiles, but that soon expanded to include planes, trains, and all modes of internal combustion transportation. The pedal cars in this exhibition, which have been selected from the David Whitmire Hearst Jr. Foundation Collection, are especially elegant examples that both spark the imagination as toys and delight the eye as carefully detailed works of art.”

The Sweeney gallery and staff moved at the end of April from their previous location, two doors down on the Main Street pedestrian mall, into the Culver Center, housed in the renovated, 19th century Rouse Department Store located next to the UCR/California Museum of Photography. In the Culver Center, Sweeney’s programming will expand by presenting exhibitions in its own gallery and in the heart of the Culver’s two-story, 2,000-square-foot atrium.

UCR Sweeney Art Gallery first opened on campus in 1963. Located at Olmstead Hall, its first exhibition examined the work of the 19th century American landscape painter Thomas Moran, and was reviewed in the New York Times. The gallery moved in 1978 to Watkins House on the campus, and in 2006 to 3800 Main St. While in the downtown location it presented many solo and group exhibitions that have contributed scholarship to the field, have received international attention, and have made a conscious effort to be a bridge between the campus and community, Stallings said.

Visitor Information

Culver Center of the Arts regular schedule beginning Oct. 12 is Tuesday-Saturday, noon-5 p.m., and First Thursdays ArtsWalk, noon-9 p.m. Free admission for exhibitions in Atrium Gallery and Sweeney Art Gallery (located within Culver Center). Reservations and tickets required for screenings and performances. Located at 3834 Main St., Riverside, California 92501. For information, call 951-827-3755,
Folke Köbberling & Martin Kaltwasser, Cars into Bicycles, 2010. A Saab<br />
turbo was converted into two functional bicycles. Their work explores<br />
mapping, sustainability, reconfiguring urban space.Enlarge

Folke Köbberling & Martin Kaltwasser, Cars into Bicycles, 2010. A Saab
turbo was converted into two functional bicycles. Their work explores
mapping, sustainability, reconfiguring urban space.

The University of California, Riverside ( is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion.

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