16 May 2018

A Ride Through History And Culture

If you've been following this blog, you know that I sometimes, oh, digress a bit into subjects like culture, history, politics, the arts and literature.  

Now the Museum of Ventura County in California has opened what, from the description I read, sounds like what this blog would be if it were an exhibit.

"Pedal Pushers!  Bicycling in Ventura County" is running until 17 June.  It will, among other things, contrast utilitarian bikes of the late 19th Century with sleek modern racing bikes--and highlight all sorts of machines in between.  In addition to bikes, the exhibit will include catalogues, photographs and various kinds of art work related to bicycles.

The purpose of the exhibit, says Charles Johnson, is to show the evolution of the craft and art of bicycle-making and to demonstrate the ways in which bicycles are a reflection of their times.  "We realize what the bicycle has meant in culture over time, and it has meant different things to different people," explains the Museum's research library director.

One of the best illustrations, if you will, of what he means is one of his favorite photographs.  It shows members of the Ventura Bicycle Club assembled on Ventura's Main Street in 1898.  Club members are dressed in their "Sunday best."  Johnson finds that, and the fact that there are so many women in the photo, interesting.  It shows that "bicycling was not an Everyman's sport at the time," he elaborates.  "Bicycles were like $20 and up to $100.  This is not a working man's salary in 1898.  You had to be very wealthy."

That photo would make an interesting contrast with another in the exhibit.  It was taken a century later, in 1998, and shows the California State Championship cyclists zipping past Ventura's City Hall.

If I were in the neighborhood (which,to Californians, means anything within a two-hour drive), I would definitely go to that exhibit.

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