Motorcycles at the Holter - Helena, MT | Attractions, Events, Hotels

Motorcycles at the Holter

A Different Kind of Art

By Emmie Bristow

When many of us think of art, we tend to think of paintings, sculptures, and people such as Van Gogh, Picasso, and so on. However, starting this Friday, August 5th and running until October 31st, the Holter Museum of Art will be hosting a different kind of art: motorcycles. There will be around 22 pre-1974 motorcycles including the gear going with them—racing leathers, helmets, and photography—on display at the Holter’s new exhibition called The Art of the Motorcycle.

Because this is something completely new, even for the Holter, I though I’d try reaching out to the man behind it all: freelance photographer and motorcycle enthusiast, Jimmy Wollenberg, to gather some more information. I wanted to know how someone could think of something so unique and different like this, and lucky for me, we were able to set aside some time to meet.

It was pretty clear right off the bat that Wollenberg had a love for bikes.

“I got my first dirt bike when I was 16, and my first road bike when I was around 17 or 18. But it’s been in that last 5-7 years that I’ve really gotten into them.”

Not only does Wollenberg ride bikes, he’s built and restored a few, too, including a 1973 Honda which will be on display at the exhibition—an exhibition which he was not initially expecting to be accepted by the contemporary art museum.

“I was lucky. One of their former directors was a bike enthusiast as well, and it had just turned out the Holter was really looking for something different anyway, so they were excited to do it.”

Wollenberg’s inspiration for this exhibition came from the Guggenheim Museum in New York City and in Las Vegas. He’s been collecting bikes and their memorabilia for some time now, including different motorcycle photographs, thirteen of which will be his own work.

“I tried to, instead of just taking a picture of the entire motorcycle, focus on the parts. For instance, it may be only the engine, it may be only the gauges, and so on. I tried to show that motorcycles really are an art.”

And not only will Wollenberg’s own artwork be on display, but other motorcycle enthusiasts’ as well, such as David Uhl.

“I met David Uhl, the only licensed by Harley-Davidson oil-painter in the world, two years ago. I talked to him this year and he ended up agreeing to loan to us two of his pieces. His work is just phenomenal.” So phenomenal, in fact, that the Pope even has one of his paintings.

Picture taken from the Holter Museum's Facebook page.

Picture taken from the Holter Museum’s Facebook page.

Personally, I was a little surprised by this fact. I had no idea how big of a deal motorcycles were, nor how many well-established artists Wollenberg had gotten to loan some of their works to the exhibit. Other artists include George Sedlak, who is known for having painted Evel Kinevel’s helmets and bikes, and Randy Owens, who specializes in motor-sports art. Many posters of the art will be for sale at the Holter gift shop, prices ranging from $25 to $40.

However, what excites Wollenberg most about the artifacts is the antique bike collection.

“They just have such beautiful lines. The oldest is a 1926 Velocette.”

Wollenberg is also excited about having the public’s acceptance of this form of artwork, and seeing the exhibition bring more people through the Holter’s doors.

“Not everybody looks at motorcycles as art, and I’m hoping that will change after this exhibition.”

So be sure to stop by the exhibition at the Holter Museum lasting from August 5th until October 31st, and take some time to enjoy viewing the motorcycles and artwork. Before then, though, make sure to check out how the exhibition is coming along on their Facebook page, because not only is there going to be an exhibition, but a block party too. This “Ride In” event, hosted by the Holter on August 27th,  will include a barbecue and live music, and if you own a motorcycle yourself, please feel free to bring it. Cruse Avenue will be closed for through-traffic and open for motorcycle parking only. More information on this event can be found on their Facebook event page.

“I just hope everyone can take with them an appreciation for other forms of art,” Wollenberg states, “and to be honest with you, if this is successful, I’d like to look into something else. Maybe The Art of Rock and Roll?”

Well, I sure hope so.