Artist Daniel Shea explains how cycling has given him an intimate and inspiring relationship with the soul of New York City.
Artist Daniel Shea explains how cycling has given him an intimate and inspiring relationship with the soul of New York City. In a story from The Commuter Journal – a cycling paper made by Huck and Levi’s® Commuter™.
Artist Daniel Shea has an eye for form. He explores the energy in lines – through his geometric photographs, paintings and sculptures – and, through projects like book Blisney, Il (about a fictional town in Illinois), finds beauty in the way cities flow. Two years ago he moved to New York City from his hometown Chicago, and has explored every block on his trusty bike. Here, he describes his favorite spots.
“I’ve been riding bikes as long as I can remember. I grew up bmx-ing, then got heavy into city biking, fixed-gear bikes, alleycats, and all the punk shit in college. I calmed down in my mid-twenties and became a more civilized rider, but I still love it.
“It makes me feel like a kid. I love the chemical effects of the exercise – that high, specifically while riding through New York City, makes me really feel happy to be alive. It’s also just often the quickest way to get around.
“My favourite spot to cycle through is Queensboro Bridge right by my house. The views are amazing, often you are racing cars – feeling like a kid again – and you enter the city in midtown density. I love coming into Manhattan, ten storeys up. There’s also a quick ride over to Roosevelt Island from my studio in Long Island City that I do frequently. It’s a good spot to take it easy and think about the bigger picture of things.
“There’s no direct connection between my cycling and art, but it’s generally related to a lot of ideas and approaches that come out of DIY punk and hardcore culture, which had a big impact on my early development as a creative person. It’s an immediate, visceral form of engaging with the world around you, it’s good for your mind and body and has a very small footprint. My work has largely dealt with the architecture of cities, and looking for new ways to understand what they say about history and our relationship to power, and on a very simple level, biking represents this hacking of urban life, a space outside of prescribed ways of moving through the city. It’s an approach that’s related to how I decide what to look for when making work.”
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