Sikkila’s 410 Bike Project – A Gift to Community

  • Opening Reception and Film Premier, Friday, September 29th 7-9pm
  • Live music provided by Michael Ferrier of Fathom Lane
  • Food by Pub 500
  • Show runs Sept. 29th – Oct. 15th

Dana and Kyle getting ready to start the 10 day, 501 mile 410 Bike Project.

By Joe Steck – Mankato Times

MANKATO, MINN. — The 410 Project is hosting an opening reception and film premier of the “410 Project Bike” on Friday, September 29th from 7:00 – 9:00 pm at the 410 Project, 523 S. Front Street, Mankato. The exhibit will feature 25 pieces of art work collected from Minnesota artists by Dana Sikkila during her 501 mile bike tour as well as a film documentary of her travels (see complete details below along with preview video).

Preface – about Sikkila and the 410 Project

The “410 Project Bike” is the brainchild of artist and executive director of the 410 Project Dana Sikkila – it is her way of introducing the community to artists from throughout the state and combining it with her love of riding bike.

Growing up in Litchfield, Minnesota, a small rural town 60 miles west of Minneapolis, Sikkila didn’t know much about the arts.

“I wasn’t exposed to the arts or know that being in the arts was an option when I grew up,” she said “I didn’t know I wanted to be in the arts until 2005 when I attended college in Mankato.”

Sikkila went on to earn her Master of Arts and Non Profit Leadership Certificate from Minnesota State University while running the 410 Project, a volunteer managed community art space dedicated to making art and arts programming accessible to all – or to coin a phrase from the 60’s, an experimental incubator for art.

“When I first started, outside of the university I felt there was a large separation between the arts and the community,” said Sikkila “There wasn’t anything to pull people in and push the limits (envelope) to show what art can be.”

Sikkila has shared her passion for the arts and promoting free thought by introducing numerous art programs and special events for children and adults to help strike creativity, positive self-esteem and art awareness.

“The 410 Project supports local artists and lets them display their work.” She said “It is about the purity of art and a way to connect the artist with others.”

Sikkila opens the 410 Project to young students and those who are more advanced in age, encouraging each person to expand their artistic abilities and bring art into the community. Some recent projects include a knitting bomb in downtown Mankato and the painting of a utility box by young artists.

Knitters from around the community made little pieces of art to decorate downtown Mankato.

Besides art, Sikkila has a passion for riding bicycle – which led her to create the 410 Bike Project

This summer, Sikkila took her bike, trailer, a camera crew and good friend Kyle Zeiszler on a 10 day, 501 mile trek around Minnesota to pick up art from 10 different artists and tell their story.

“The 410 Project Bike is a way of branching out to bring different art and artists to our community while sharing their stories.” Said Sikkila “My mission is to push the envelope of what can be done – not only feeding my creativity and passion for the arts, but to inspire others to find their passion.”

At each artist stop Sikkila collected one to four artworks which traveled along with her until she returned back to Mankato, 25 pieces of art work were collected along the tour ranging from ceramic sculpture, drawing, painting, mosaic, and printmaking.

Sikkila spent time with each of the artists which was documented by Murakami Productions, an independent production company out of Chicago.

“I felt it was important to invest time with the artists and make sure they felt it was worth it to be involved in the project,” she said “Part of the bigger picture is to allow them to grow as an artist.”

Before the 10 day excursion, Sikkila prepared herself both physically and mentally.

“I knew this year would be physically different then my prior trips due to more gravel riding and accepting a broader range of art so I prepared myself both physically and mentally,” she said “I knew I would be pushing a lot of weight and that my body would get broken down over the 10 days.”

She turned to Jo Ann Radlinger of Jo’s Fitness Garage in Mankato to help her physically, building up her leg muscles and endurance. The extra weight she moved was 96 pounds – the year before it was 82 pounds.”

Mentally, she went over why she was putting together the exhibit.

“There is something with art that allows us to relate (to people) – art is humanizing people,” she said “I want to open up the definition of art and build a connection with people in Minnesota through art.”

Arlo Chapman proudly displays one of his original quilts.

She continued “There is something romantic about this project because it is about the purity of art. It is inspirational to see the passion of Arlo Chapman, a young artist from Mankato who quilts – maybe people will see his passion and be inspired to become creative and passionate about something.”

On the second day of the trip Sikkila hurt her ankle, and the skills of Zeiszler came into play.

“He is an athletic trainer at MSU, the Orthopedic & Fracture Clinic and a massage therapist at Mankato Chiropractic Center & Healing Touch. He had to wrap my ankle every day – the ride had a schedule so I couldn’t take a day off to let it heal.”

Zeiszler who is passionate about biking did more than act as her personal medical staff

“Kyle was an amazing asset both physically and mentally. He played the role of navigator and he coordinated with the film crew.” She said “There gets to be a lot of overwhelming circumstances’ and he came at it in a different side as a non-artist. He reminded me to take my time and enjoy it.”

There was a moment in the trip where Sikkila said she wanted to give up. She took what looked like a short cut on a 2 mile stretch of gravel that turned out to be a lot tougher then she thought it would be.

“I had very little sleep the night before because raccoons were going through the handlebar bags. The gravel road was filled with huge rocks and the going was slow. The riding was getting more difficult and then we came on a huge hill. It was hot and it became physically and mentally overwhelming. I started weeping and I wanted to quit.” She said

This is where Sikkila’s mental preparation kicked.

“I kept telling myself, this isn’t about me, it is about the project.”

Every rotation of her peddles was an accomplishment – a step closer to her goal.

Sikkila successfully completed the 501 miles and is excited for the art exhibit.

“Not just artists will be able to relate with this exhibit – It will bring a different perspective on art and what it is like to be an artist,” she said “It shows that everyone can be a maker, everyone can be creative.”

Gregory Euclide of Le Sueur is one of the 10 artists at the 410 Bike Project.

Artists highlighted at the 410 Project Bike are

  • Gregory Euclide – Le Sueur – Mixed Media
  • Gerry Kulzer – Litchfield – Ceramic Sculpture
  • Lisa Bergh – New London – Painting
  • Mary Bruno – St. Joseph – Printmaking
  • Emily Lynch – Delano – Painting
  • Bailey Cahlander – St. Paul – Mosaic
  • Heather Peebles – Minneapolis – Mixed Media
  • Thomas Fluharty – Prior Lake – Drawing/Painting
  • Michon Weeks – Northfield – Drawings/Printmaking
  • Arlo Chapman – Mankato – Quilting

The 410 Bike Project

  • 410 Bike Project art opening, Friday, September 29, 2017
  • 7:00 – 9:00 pm at the 410 Project, 523 S. Front Street, Mankato
  • Film viewing will be on the outside back wall of the building so bring a lawn chair to kick back and watch.

Along the way her trip was documented by friends and fellow artists Murakami Productions, an independent production company out of Chicago, working in film, music videos, commercials, promos, web and corporate videos. Capturing the tales from the trails and sharing artists stories of what it means to be a maker in Minnesota.

Jon Murakami, from Murakami Productions shares, “We have a treasure trove of cinematic shots, intimate moments, art, rain, and a feisty coyote named “Jeffery”. I’ve got my work cut out for me, but it’s great to have that pressure and passion back that I had back in my blading days.” 

New this year, Project Bike collaborated with the Minneapolis Institute of Art. Not just touring the roads of Minnesota, 410’s Project Bike got a once in a life time chance to touring the halls of the MIA, bike and all. Interviewing MIA curator Nicole Soukup, Sikkila showcases how large art entities like the MIA share the same passion for highlighting and supporting Minnesota artists.

With the increase of social media and online presence we’ve lost the true connection between the art galleries and the artists. With everything usually being done online or through the mail we don’t get a true understanding of who these artists are and why they make their work. Getting down to the basics Sikkila proves that one person, a bicycle, and self-motivation can bring people together by sharing stories and creating awareness for the arts in Minnesota.

Opening Reception Musician – Fathom Lane

Fathom Lane has been getting international attention for their wonderfully indefinable sound. Michael Ferrier’s songs are at once accessible and memorable, but are also sneaky with their quietly innovative touches. Ferrier cites classic touchstones such as The Velvet Underground, Tom Petty, Gram Parson’s Cosmic American Music, and the Laurel Canyon songwriters, but even with these influences Fathom Lane manages a contemporary sound. The blend of Ferrier’s steady and simple tenor with fellow singer Ashleigh Still’s more mellifluous soul is a main feature of the rich sound Fathom Lane brews; the band invite their listeners in and then delight them with audio surprises.

410 Project Mission Statement:

410 Project is a volunteer managed community art space dedicated to making art and arts programming accessible to all. Learn more at the410project.com or on Facebook

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