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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - On Friday, more than two dozen Madison BCycles looked a little different, sporting artwork about nonprofits in the community. Creating artwork on bikes to support and spread awareness about these local nonprofits is the idea behind Madison BCycle’s inaugural Art Bike Program.
“When you see a bus or something, it’s usually an ad, but this was really more focused on artwork and mission and community,” said Shelby Kisling, one of the artists who worked on a bike.
Kisling is one of more than 20 artists designing artwork for the bikes. She worked with nonprofit Affordable Dental Care (ADC).
“Those of us who have had access to dental care don’t realize how much it really affects every aspect of your life,” said ADC interim executive director Sylvie Hauser.
ADC is a clinic on the northeast side of Madison, providing free dental care to people who are uninsured or underinsured. However, Hauser explained their mission goes beyond physical health.
“Having a nice smile that you’re comfortable sharing with people is so, so important,” she said.
That theme is reflected in Kisling’s artwork, which includes a woman smiling in the mirror.
“I tried to capture that in what I came up with in focusing on smiles and self-confidence and self-esteem,” Kisling explained.
Kisling and other artists created designs for 28 bikes, supporting over a dozen different organizations. Hauser saw the ADC bike for the first time Wednesday, ahead of an unveiling ceremony Thursday.
Madison BCycle general manager Helen Bradley said she was inspired to start the program by the art on State Street following the protest and unrest in the summer of 2020. She wanted bikes to be a platform to advocate for a cause as well.
“There was a lot of need and want for artists, local artists to get involved,” Bradley said, explaining, “We wanted the sponsors and the artists to come together to come up with causes that were important to them.”
The bikes are out and ready to use: a fun way to promote community organizations and give Madison a little more color.
“They become kind of unicorn bikes, where they’re sought after to take photos,” Bradley said.
Kisling added, “Art can be anywhere and it should be and it should be all around the community.”
2021 is the first year Madison BCycle is trying the program out, but Bradley said they have already heard from sponsors interested in participating in the future. She said they might do something similar in 2022.