There's a chopper in Michael Deming's basement. Not a real one. Not a model of one. A sculpture of one, many of its parts imagined by Deming and painstakingly handcrafted out of aluminum, fiberglass and steel. He has never been on a real motorcycle. He knows very little about motorcycles generally, he confesses. But for more than a year, Deming has looked at his world through the filter of this motorcycle. For all that time, it has been parked in his brain, driving him all over creation to give it life, to places like Bed Bath & Beyond, where he bought two stainless-steel measuring cups that later became its belt-drive cover.
Deming took some inspiration from motorcycle magazines, from the many pictures of engines and gas tanks and handlebars. But his greatest inspiration came from "American Chopper," the Discovery Channel television show where a father and his sons build their own bikes. The father-and-son theme is something to which Deming can relate: His father is sculptor David Deming, president of the Cleveland Institute of Art and his sometime
collaborator. They share studio space in the basement of their art-crammed Cleveland Heights home, among pieces completed or somewhat completed, among ill-shaped metal bars and bright lights and machines that bend and break and saw and smooth.
As Deming works out the last details — the engraved "D" on the body, the sleek black paint job — he considers what this bike means, what the scores of people who will flock to the I-X Center this month for the Cycle World International Motorcycle Show already know: Beauty is a bike.
For motorcycles, visit the Cycle World International Motorcycle Show at the I-X Center Jan. 28 through 30. (216) 676-6000. www.ixcenter.com.
For motorcycle-inspired art, contact Michael Deming at firstname.lastname@example.org.