Motorcycle helmets are generally purchased for their ability to prevent serious injury or death while riding, with their aesthetic value taking the sidecar. Local artists are changing lanes with that idea, using their creativity to protect skulls and raise funds for charity.
The Biltwell ART & MOTO show is a collection of artistically redesigned motorcycle helmets painted and crafted by independent artists and auctioned off for charity. The exhibit opened May 30 at Article Menswear in Over-the-Rhine and ran through June 7. It benefitted the LifeCenter organ donation network, which coordinates the donation of human tissues and organs transplants. Between $1,500 and $2,500 was expected to be raised by the helmet auction alone.
Biltwell Helmets teamed up with Cincinnati Cafe Racer and Mighty Ohio Scooter Club to organize a rally for Cincinnati's motor enthusiasts, from Segways and mopeds all the way to choppers. The event included a raffle, live music and a group ride.
The helmets, designed by nearly two dozen local artists, are still safe to wear, in most cases.
"Many of the helmets are un-altered in structure and no safety has been compromised," says Timothy Burke of Cincy Cafe Racer. "Others are purely fun art pieces that you could wear but would look pretty silly doing so (such as the wedding cake helmet or the one with spikes added)."
“The idea came from what the guys in Portland did a couple of years ago with the '21 Helmets' show in the fall of 2012,” Burke says, referring to a similarly styled helmet show that gained some attention in the biker and art worlds. “I thought, Cincinnati has a great art community, and I would love to do this locally to combine my love of motorcycles and my love of art. So in 2013, we did our first ART & MOTO show with only seven artists. This year, Biltwell signed on to sponsor and provide helmets which enabled us to get a bigger reach and not pay out of our own pockets to fund the helmets.”