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Recycling bikes into beauty

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Do they do it bigger and better in Texas? Yes, in many ways, and two Austin artists have created a community gathering space with the installation of elegant chandeliers built out of recycled bicycle parts, transforming a dingy, dark freeway underpass into a rather charming space.

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The once urban eyesore under a freeway is now a beautiful pedestrian work of art linked to the area’s growing bike community. Calling it Ballroom Luminoso, artists Joe O’Connell and Blessing Hancock repurposed various bike components, combined them with some custom steel work and LEDs to create six luminous spheres that glow and change color. Pedestrians watch in wonder as they stroll and view the changing patterns and colors on the concrete columns and underpass ceiling structure.

Ballroom Luminoso references the area’s past, present, and future in the design of its intricately detailed medallions. The images in the medallions draw on the community’s agricultural history, strong Hispanic heritage, and burgeoning environmental movement. The medallions are a play on the iconography of La Loteria, which has become a touchstone of Hispanic culture. Utilizing traditional tropes like La Escalera (the Ladder), La Rosa (the Rose), and La Sandía (the Watermelon), the piece alludes to the neighborhood’s farming roots and horticultural achievements. Each character playfully rides a bike acting as a metaphor for the neighborhood’s environmental progress, its concurrent eco-restoration projects, and its developing cycling culture.

For more information, check out the artists' website at JB Public Art.

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