Brian Jacobson

Heavy Metal Tannenbaum

By - Dec 8th, 2011 04:00 am

The Harley-Davidson Holiday Tree, as interpreted by John Kowalczyk.

When the Harley-Davidson Museum sent out requests to local artists and enrolled art students to send in proposals for what a Harley holiday tree might look like, the seven examples chosen by MARN’s Melvina Kleverova Zilliox and Melissa Musante and H-D’s Frank Savage were very different interpretations. The constructed results are now part of a month-long “Holiday Sculpture Walk” inside the museum.

In the case of the lone artwork to remain outside in the cold air of December, Brady Lueck’s “Christmas Thatching” is folksy and minimalist. A single giant red ornament dangles from the inside of a construct of bound ‘branches’ that form the exoskeleton of a kind of inverted tree concept. At night, a single spotlight shines from a low-angle that makes it stand out from the glittery lot of pine and bluce spruce boughs lined up for sale.

Just inside the lobby, Brock Rumohr created a kind of interactive tree called “Harley-Davidson Blazin’ Bell”, partially named after the good-luck charm riders sometimes attach to their hog in order to trap evil road spirits that would otherwise cause mechanical hijinks. In fact, all of the trees in this art show have a bell hidden on them somewhere, and tourists are asked to find them. On Rumohr’s weighty cone, strips of Harley orange with personal messages are attached by visitors at certain scheduled times (the last one is from 10-2 p.m. on Dec. 11).

Harley-Davidson Museum has arranged a series of programs and events, the Christmas trees for sale outside, and the Sculpture Walk to benefit the Arts@Large program in Milwaukee.  The A@L program provides multidisciplinary art experiences for MPS students in the K-12 range. All seven trees will be sold in a silent auction. Winners will be chosen after the “Blazin’ Yule” winter series ends on Jan. 6 — but regular visitors can choose a favorite through the People’s Choice ballot system. Proceeds will be split between the artist and the arts program.

Some of the sculptures are obvious representatives of holiday trees, such as Kendall Polster’s “Charlie Brown…” design. Others like Carrie Chimenti’s “Lucia’s Tree” is totally wild and looks like it belongs on a psychedelic poster from the ’70s.

You’ll have to see the other three for yourself, although we did document the series in our flickr slideshow below.  Make sure to look out the skywalk, where the signature silos have been decorated up as Santa and Rudolph.

Categories: Art

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