The Riverwest 24 Portrait Project
Susie Seidelman and Lois Bielefeld
Riverwest Milwaukee, WI. March 2016. Two hours… two hundred photos… two hundred fifty-eight riders… and one delightful sunrise. When this photo project was said and done, it created a historical document of the Riverwest 24 and the awesome community that forms around it. Susie Seidelman and Lois Bielefeld had a goal of capturing the simple humanity of this community event and of the individuals passing through each frame.
The Riverwest 24 Portrait Project will be on display March 4-8 at the Jazz Gallery Center for the Arts, 926 E. Center Street, home to the Riverwest Artists Association in Milwaukee’s Riverwest neighborhood. An opening reception will be held Saturday, March 5, 6-10pm, with a second reception on Sunday, March 6, 11am-2pm.
To create this exhibit, Seidelman and Bielefeld set up a bonus checkpoint at the top of Reservoir Park. “We shot in the early morning, as the sun rose,” stated Seidelman, “to highlight the constant change that happens throughout these 24 hours in Riverwest. There’s something, too, about shooting half way through the race, when people have been on bikes for 10 to 12 hours already, knowing they’ve got 12 to 14 more to go, that just makes for some honest portraiture.“
No special lighting or make-up was used. There were no “do-overs.”
“Participants were sweaty, exhausted, and sometimes a bit drunk,” says Bielefeld. “Each of them was a beautiful representation of the imperfection and inelegance that somehow adds up to the most magical 24 hours in Milwaukee.”
They wanted to shoot on film because it is rarely done anymore, and especially not medium format. Maybe it was a stretch, but both artists felt there was a kinship between film and bikes. These are old technologies. For many users, they’ve been replaced by faster, more convenient things. But neither film nor bikes are dying, and those who love them understand that sometimes convenience is overrated.
Seidelman and Bielefeld stress the following: “Making these portraits was an attempt to preserve a brief moment in the life of each rider, without any preparation or pretense. They are now part of a historical document, a window into a two-hour period of time in a much larger event that means so much to so many people.”
The exhibit and receptions on March 5 and March 6 are free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served. Visit www.riverwestart.org for additional information.
Press Releases by Riverwest Artists Association
The Free Paint Get Togather exhibit will consist of the many paintings left behind by their creators for the benefit of future participants.
Deadline April 10, 2015