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The creator of the colorful metal bicycle sculptures residents have become accustomed to seeing around the Historic Triangle spoke Thursday about the inspiration behind his work.
In honor of Las Bicicletas Community Day, Gilberto Aceves Navarro made the journey from his home in San Carlos, Mexico to Williamsburg to address a gathering of fans and art enthusiasts.
Navarro, a Mexican painter, sculptor and a professor at the Escuela Nacional de Artes Plasticas and Academy of San Carlos, is a lauded contemporary artist who has received numerous prestigious awards for his work.
This marks his first trip to Williamsburg, which has hosted the Las Bicicletas sculptures since last April.
In his speech, Navarro recounted some of the important milestones in his artistic life, including his decision to pursue art against his family’s wishes and a particularly remarkable professor he had in art school.
“[My professor told me] art comes from love. You have to be in love with what you do,” Navarro said.
Love is evident in Navarro’s passion for Las Bicicletas, which he was thrilled to see adorning the “beautiful, green spaces of this town.”
Las Bicicletas have been displayed in several other locations, including Mexico City, Monterrey, New York City and Washington D.C. In each city, the sculptures have spread Navarro’s message of happiness, health and the power of public art.
Thursday also happened to be Navarro’s 84th birthday, so attendees had an opportunity to enjoy birthday cake with the artist after his speech concluded.
The entire Las Bicicletas series includes 250 bicycle sculptures in three different sizes. The bikes come in red, white, orange and black colors that are significant to the Maya people as they represent the four cardinal points.
Interested parties can now purchase a sculpture to take home with them, though enthusiasts who prefer to look rather than buy can still see them on display around town for the rest of the month. The City of Williamsburg has even created an audio tour that can be accessed through the Williamsburg Wayfinder app, which is free on the App Store and Google Play.
“Every time I drive up Bypass [Road] I see a piece of Navarro’s work and it completely transforms my mood,” said Lee Matney, owner of the Linda Matney Gallery and a leader in the local art community. “Williamsburg and Navarro have created a dialogue about public art that will continue long after these pieces are gone.”
For more information about Las Bicicletas, click here.