Photos by Howard Koby
Did you know that Forest Lawn, the famed cemetery in Glendale, California, has a museum? Or that the current exhibition in that museum is entitled “Vroom: The Art of The Motorcycle?”
The exhibition features rare motorcycles with stained glass as a backdrop and an arcane collection of motorcycle-themed art including hand-painted gas tanks, black-and-white cartoons, poster art and striking sculpture.
One goal for co-curator and motorcycle historian and collector John Parker and museum director Joan P. Adan was to present an in-depth look at the changing history of motorcycle trends highlighting the effect and influence of the west coast.
The Forest Lawn Museum is a hidden but impressive structure located on the top of a hill in a cemetery in a peaceful, quiet setting and contains medieval art, religious relics, original artwork by Homer, Matisse and Rembrandt, among others along, with a partial collection by publishing magnate William Randolph Hearst.
Each historic motorcycle in the exhibition sits on a custom-built platform. You get a feeling of respect and appreciation for all art forms as you view them and the hand-painted gas tanks, secured on walls in exceptional design.
There also are more than 10 painted helmets, including a reproduction Peter Fonda helmet worn in the ’69 movie classic Easy Rider. The helmets were done by artists Troy Lee, Sara Ray and Pete “Hot Dog” Finlan. Also shown are racing photographs by Mitch Friedman, artfully placed on museum walls throughout the show.
Noted artists represented are Automotive Fine Arts Society member Tom Fritz (creator of the U.S .Postal Service’s Muscle Car Stamp Series); Syd Mead, graduate of Art Center College of Design and visual futurist and conceptual artist who worked on Hollywood films Blade Runner, Tron 2010, Aliens and Mission: Impossible III; renowned artist William Stout; graphic master Von Franco, who worked with Ed ‘Big Daddy’ Roth; Harley-Davidson’s official sculptor Jeff Decker; and Drew Stuzan, who illustrated over 150 movie posters including Indiana Jones, Back to the Future, Star Wars and many more.
The rare and compelling two-wheeled machines on display are second to none, including an impeccably restored 1910 Flying Merkel, a 1914 Harley-Davidson board track racer, a 1938 Crocker formerly owned by Otis Chandler, a 1938 Indian Sport Scout Flat Track Racer, and a Galoise-blue 1939 Indian Chief that was once owned by Steve McQueen.
Also, a 1945/1965 Harley-Davidson Drag Bike ‘The Hog’ that set the track record at Lion’s Drag Strip at 127 mph in the quarter mile, a 1947 Harley UL ‘California Cut-Down,’ a distinctive 1953 Gilora Road Racer from the collection of Barry Weiss (Storage Wars), a 1968 ESO Speedway (racer Bobby “Boogaloo” Schwartz), a 1953 Moto Guzzi Falcone which has never been on display but is presented by one of the foremost restorers of antique motorcycles in America, Mike Parti, a 1999 Ducati 996RS (capable of 200 mph) raced by English ace Carl Fogarty, a 2006 Suzuki GSKR 1000 Race Bike (187 mph), and a 2009 Transformers Suzuki B-King featured in the 2009 movie Transformers’ Revenge of the Fallen.
The museum was recently named one of the top 10 free museums in the country by Yahoo Travel.
The “Vroom” show will be on view through January 5, 2015.
For more info visit www.forest-lawn.com