Riding for art: 410’s Project Bike to showcase 10 Minnesota artists

Dana Sikkila, executive director of Mankato’s 410 Project // Photo courtesy of 410 Project

For 10 days this past July, Dana Sikkila was pedaling her bike up country roads and down trails across Minnesota on a 501-mile bike tour.

With a bike trailer and camera crew in tow, she was on a mission to meet with 10 artists spread across the state, collect their works, and transport them back to the Mankato art gallery, 410 Project. Along the way, Sikkila, the executive director of 410 Project and visual artist, learned what motivates her fellow Minnesota makers and the power of art.

“I wanted to do this project because I wanted to go back to the basics of, and highlight the true passion of, being an artist and to break down the stereotype of who and artist is or could be,” Sikkila says. “To showcase that one person on a bike can affect many people, that being a creative leader isn’t just about sitting behind a desk and answering emails. It’s about connecting with artists and creative spaces, and making them and their art accessible to all.”

Sikkila had the idea to collect new works by bicycle for display at 410 Project, a volunteer-run art gallery, three years ago. With 410’s Project Bike 2017, “Traveling Minnesota One Piece at a Time,” she met a total of 10 artists, from Le Sueur to New London, collecting one to four artworks at each stop and transported them back to Mankato. The trek was filmed by friends and fellow artists, Murakami Productions, for a documentary of her time on the trails and sharing the inspiring artistic stories along the way.

As the 501-mile tour came to an end, Sikkila had collected 25 pieces, including ceramic sculpture, painting, drawing, mosaic, and printmaking, which will come together for an exhibit at 410 Project September 29 to October 15.

“Lots of people think you need to live in New York or LA or even just a large city to be a successful artist,” Sikkila says, “and this project shows that is not the case. Artists are living all around creating in their homes, apartments, studios, barns, warehouses, closets.”

The exhibit will kick off with an opening reception and film premier of the tour, held on September 29 from 7-9pm.

410 Project Bike from Ryan Sturgis on Vimeo.