Art Ross Returns to the Kinetic Sculpture Race

Art Ross, FabricationTechnician, contributes this story.

As reported last year, I enjoy volunteering for the American Visionary Art Museum’s Kinetic Sculpture Race.  This was the museum’s 20th such event.  It was my eighth year participating.

Kinetic Sculpture Racing began in Ferndale, California in 1969 when artist Hobart Brown upgraded his son’s tricycle into a 5-wheeled pentacycle and was challenged to a race down Main Street.  (Hobart did not win.)  Over the decades since, the California race evolved into a 3-day all-terrain Kinetic Grand Championship including treacherous sand dunes, water crossings, and elaborate sculptures and costumes.

The museum's entry - Babe the Blue Ox.

Oakland Mills High School's Messie Nessie.

For those who haven’t had the pleasure of catching this Baltimore madness, the “race” consists of a number of “sculptures”, mostly fabricated from bicycle parts and wild imaginations, that parade through downtown Baltimore with obstacles like a sandpit, a mud pit and a dip in the harbor.  Not all the entries rely on the trustworthy construction of a bicycle.  One of this year’s sculptures was made entirely of pool noodles and duct tape.  The pilots trekked the entire 14 miles by foot (and they swam a bit at the water obstacle).

 The Trojan horse of pool noodles.

The Trojan horse of pool noodles.

The theme for this year’s race was Mysteries & Tall Tales.  I chose to enter the mysterious realm of steampunk for my traditional chicken costume.  My group, the flock of chickens, was in charge of engaging the crowd and tallying votes for the crowd favorite sculpture.  My patented method of engaging the crowd is to pass out DumDum suckers destroying the age-old parental proclamation of “Never take candy from a stranger”.  This year I handed out approximately 500 lollipops.

Here Art shows the progression of the fabrication of his costume.  Art is one of our very talented fabrication technicians, each of whom brings skill and imagination to every prosthesis or orthosis worked on.  

To see the sculptures in the race or for more information you can click here!