The Motorcycle Art of Greg Inkmann
Just when you think you’ve seen it all, along comes something like these amazing works of motorcycle art.
Or is it sculpture? We honestly didn’t know where or how to classify this article, but we thought our readers would enjoy learning more about Greg Inkmann’s interesting works.
Greg sent the following:
I am 55 years old and have been involved with aviation my entire life. I am also a executive chef. Through out my career as a chef, I did many ice sculptures and grew to love creating sculpture. I returned to college and graduated in 1999 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in sculpture. I also did post graduate work in object preservation and conservation, exhibit layout and design at the University of Kansas Museum Science program.
I hold a private pilots license and am president of our local radio control club. Professionally I do sculpture, restoration, conservation, and art lighting (fiber optic, ultra violet and infra red sensitive) for galleries, museums and individual art collectors.
I have designed and built several display cases for the Combat Air Museum in Topeka as well as displaying my artwork there. I utilize a wide and varied palette of media. I use my aviation experience to stimulate my art works. My art tries to bring substance to the inexpressible beauty and mysticism of flight and to capture a tiny bit of the wonder that all things aviation bring me.
As an artist I express in sculptural form my fascination with flight. My art work reflects irony and whimsy. The color, shape and three dimensional movement of aircraft are integral to the design and execution of my aviation art.
The impetus for these motorcycle forms came from a flight I made in a Stearman biplane in 1994. The thing about a Stearman is that the cockpit is open not enclosed like all the other aircraft I had flown. I could feel the wind and smell the exhaust.
I got to do a loop and a low pass. The loop was phenomenal, I saw the ground disappear and then all I saw was sky. When the ground reappeared it was in the wrong place! The sky was on the bottom and the ground was on the top. Then all I could see was the ground. Finally, things came back to normal with the sky on top and the ground on the bottom.
Whew! I was so impressed with that flight that I knew I had to do some kind of artwork to memorialize and capture that feeling. I wanted to have that feeling of wind and movement again and have it on a regular basis.
Now a Stearman costs around $125,000 plus upkeep and I knew that wasn’t going to happen. Besides that, you have to go out to an airport to fly it, and I wanted something at home (I’m a big fan of instant gratification).
My brother had an old ’74 Honda. Given my particular brand of logic I thought, well, the motorcycle would give me the wind part along with leaning left and right. All I have to do is design the looks of a Stearman around it.
I drove up to Wisconsin (I live in Topeka, Kansas) and hauled the motorcycle back. I had never ridden a cycle before so I practiced and got good enough to pass the test for a license. Next I made a mock-up using foam and started cutting up wood.
Lightness and strength are mainstays in aviation. The more you weigh, the more power you need. Here I didn’t have to worry about lightness so I started with particle board and added a spar and split ribs. The covering is a shrinkable nylon fabric. I used acrylic lacquer and a two part urethane finish coat.
The flying wires are functional. They can be adjusted with turnbuckles. The bike fell over once; it perched on the lower wingtip and nothing broke. This was my first try so there are a few extra screw holes. I’m not perfect and neither are the bikes but I think they came out quite well.
Both cycles have been in several art shows and was very well received. The Honda picture with the helmet is the one shown in art shows.
I fly full scale and model aircraft so I thought about lift and what role it might play in this exercise. A model that has the wing area I was contemplating building provides about 20 pounds of lift at 50 mph. That didn’t seem to be a problem but, just to be sure, I put in some negative incidence in the the wings to provide down force (like spoilers on a car). You can feel the Honda working hard at 55. The only way this thing will fly is off a cliff.
While riding the Honda, I heard comments like “Here comes the Red Baron” and I thought ” I can do that”.
The idea of a Fokker tri plane with all that red and black and chrome was exciting. The Suzuki I got had fallen over in winter and the instrument panel had shattered. I rebuilt the panel completely of wood to go with the nature of the bike. I wanted to hide the gas cap so I created a compartment in the wing. It has a hinged lid accented with gold leaf. Just to look at this bike in the sun is a treat.
I ride these bikes on an irregular basis. The ride feels pretty much like any other motorcycle. Obviously, I don’t ride them on the freeway or at speeds over 50. On one windy day (20-30mph) when the wind was blowing from the left, I had to lean a little to the left.
I am happy with these sculptures and plan to do more, perhaps a Spad with camouflage or an all-black Stealth.
For more information, my webpage is www.biplaneventures.com. In case you’re interested, the Honda will be sold starting with eBay on Dec 3, 2006 (7 day auction) or by auction January 11, 2007 at Las Vegas by MidAmerica Auctions.
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