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January 20, 2019

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Motorcycle club takes on the art world

.. or is it the other way around?

Dobermen Motorcycle Club

Kristen Peterson

The Dobermen Motorcycle Club revs its engines.

If You Go

The Doberman Motorcycle Club

  • When: January 15 through March 1; 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday
  • Opening reception: 6 p.m., January 22
  • Where: CSN Cheyenne campus gallery
  • Cost: Free
  • For more information: 651-4205

Pickles is a badass, the kind of guy who might cut you for questioning his lies. Slicked-back hair, a bushy Italian mustache, sleeveless Iggy Pop T-shirt, cut to show his shoulder tats — "wham" across the left, "pow" on the right. He boasts about being the roughest member of Dobermen Motorcycle Club.

His girl is Sparrow, the dark-haired beauty talking with Napalm, the voluptuous bombshell who arm-wrestled her way across New York seven years ago.

Nazareth plays through the speakers (love does hurt), beers spill, cigarettes burn and laughter roars as the Dobermen dream of lonesome highways and open landscapes.

Yet to say this crew lives to ride and rides to live would be a lie. They don't ride. They don't even brawl at Marshall Tucker Band concerts.

"Nobody's going to hire us for security at a Rolling Stones concert at Altamont, if that's what you're wondering," Pickles says. "We have potential to be that gang, but I think we're pretty passive. Also, we don't have motorcycles. Our San Jose Chapter has motorcycles, but we don't."

But that's okay. This isn't really about speed or being an outlaw or riding into the sunset.

Pickles is actually artist Chris Bauder, an MFA grad from UNLV. Sparrow is artist Rachel Sparrow, and Napalm is artist Erin Stellmon. Money Shot, named that for using too much sunscreen on his face, is Michael Ogilvie, whose medium is comics.

The fastest any of them has gone on a bike is 25 mph ... in a parking lot, though they were able to launch into third gear, says group leader Seantanamo (artist Sean Russell). But that's a memory now, lore that pours over the table like the golden beer spilling as the evening wears on.

They got what they wanted, a license. That's how all this started — a couple of local artists wanted motorcycle licenses, which sparked the idea for a show based on motorcycle art. Just don't call Seantanamo the curator. "The government is the curator," he says. "Getting your license, that's the show (for us). The exhibit is the aftertaste."

Each member's work reflects motorcycles or the history and mythos of the Dobermen exhibit, which opens January 15 at CSN's Cheyenne campus and is followed by a January 22 reception. CSN exhibits manager Christopher Tsouras, aka Dobermen member The Greek, views this show as an escape from the conventional, an "opportunity to deviate from this sterilized, tried and true, tested thing we do every eight weeks in the gallery." Personally, he adds, the club was the salve to "living a life of quiet desperation."

Tsouras rode cycles when he was younger. Other Dobermen had been on the backs of Harleys. They all drool over the memory of the power of the machine. Their musical interests reflect that: Johnny Cash, Burl Ives, the soundtrack to Lost in Translation and, in Pickles' words, "anything with a synthesizer."

Their artwork reflects the spirit of the Dobermen Motorcycle Club. Some plays off the group's logo. Some plays off each artist's "gang" persona. Bunny (Melissa Russell), for example, aims for a "cutesy-wootsie" drawing of a looming motorcycle and a little bunny. "I've been thinking about making a children's book about Bunny and the Motorcycle," she adds, sipping on a vodka tonic.

Other artists in the Club include James Archer, Chad Brown, Emily Kennerk, Eric Pawloski and Joan Adams. Local musician Ginger Bruner, who actually owns a motorcycle, is an honorary member.

Seantanamo's 8-by-12-foot painting — part graffiti, part sign and part "clubhouse wall" — captures the essence of a motorcycle gang, abstractly and figuratively. Money Shot made a 16-panel cartoon loosely based on the patron saint of travel. Napalm created a simple graphic with slogan. Tipsy (Adams), named for her inability to keep her bike upright during class, is casting belt buckles for the exhibit.

Tipsy, who failed the driving portion of the first class, might be the truest outlaw of the group. "She was the one with enough courage to go beyond the cone," Ogilvie says.

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