FOUR bicycles will be auctioned off this week to raise money for Sunshine House’s LGBTTQ+ programming — and these are no ordinary bikes.
Built and decorated by mechanics and artists from the WRENCH as part of the non-profit’s Wheels of Courage program, the bikes are colourful and one-of-a-kind, ensuring whoever holds the winning ticket will get where they’re going in style.
The bikes, as all good vehicles should, have cool names. There’s Memphis, with a blue, green and polka dot body, featuring eye-catching bubble-gum pink handlebars. Montero struts its stuff on a set of red tires, with a black-and-gold fishnet pattern announcing to the world that it’s meant to be shown off. ExciteBike 64 is IKEA blue and yellow, looking like it’s destined to be used in a film by Wes Anderson. And then there’s Sunshine House communications co-ordinator Jenny Henkelman’s personal favourite, the Tasteerider, adorned with hotdogs, tacos, hearts, and slices of pizza.
Tickets are available for $10 at http://wfp.to/7zk, with sales closed as of noon today.
"Don’t wait," Henkelman says, or risk regret. "You don’t want to say, "I could have been riding a bike with tacos and hotdogs on it and then I didn’t enter and now I don’t have a cool art bike."
The cool art bikes exist in the first place because of the WRENCH’s Wheels of Courage progam, which asks volunteer participants to come up with community-driven projects. Participants this year did projects like running an urban book club or delivering meals by bike to people living outside around Winnipeg.
One participant, Vero Warkentin, recruited other WRENCH participants to create the artbike project. In a Q&A on the WRENCH website, Warkentin said when the pandemic began, the need to support vulnerable communities was magnified.
"I wanted to create an event that would both support and foster the LGBTTQ+ community with bikes, and building colourful, proud and magnificently artful bikes was a no-brainer," she said.
Warkentin collaborated with artists Keira Friesen, Kevin Celestino, Leslie Parisien, and Sarah Thiessen on the bikes. Mechanics included the artists as well as Erika Wilson, Noah Woodford, Rob Grabowski, and Daniel Perry. Each bike has an estimated value of $450, with full specs listed on the Sunshine House website.
The funds raised from ticket sales will help support programming at Sunshine House, which includes drop-in services for members of the local queer community, meals, harm reduction, laundry and bath facilities, creative programming, education, and much more. The Gizhiwenimin program at the non-profit supports LGBTTQ+ refugee claimants and newcomers to the city.
Winners of the four bikes will have their names drawn in a live event on the Sunshine House Facebook page at 7 p.m. tonight. Local drag queen Miss Assuma Gender will be making an appearance, so even those who end the night bikeless won’t leave unentertained.
Ben Waldman covers a little bit of everything for the Free Press.