The tiers of a stately chandelier cascade from the rafters. But this is not a decorative arts museum, and this chandelier isn't made of crystal-this is a bike shop, and this fixture is made of bicycle parts.
The sophisticated sculpture by Jacob Kennedy is just one in a group of eight now on display at Branford-based Zane's Cycles, created in response to a challenge issued by the store earlier this year.
The directive was simple: "Here is a large box with a variety of recycled bike components inside. Now make something out of them."
The response, says Zane's Manager Tom Girard, was nothing short of astounding.
Fifty-two Connecticut residents submitted their portfolios in the hope that they would be selected to receive one of 10 boxes of parts. Of the 10 finalists selected, eight completed their projects.
"They made anything from furniture...to trees," says Girard of the finalists. "I had told them, 'We don't want anything to do with [the sculpture] until the [installation]'...We wanted the artists to use their own spark and their own ideas."
Girard and store owner Chris Zane's own idea for the competition was sparked by a Las Vegas trade show.
"They did a sculpture show there, but nothing was recycled. When I came back from Vegas, I was looking at all this stuff we were dragging to the scrap yards...stuff that's really unique-bike parts, wheels, frames...We decided to go the other way and to reuse stuff that can't be used for anything else," explains Girard.
The sculpture competition is in keeping with Zane's Cycles' "reputation of being environmentally responsible," says spokesperson Lynn DeJoseph. What's more, she notes, the creative recycling project "will benefit not only the environment, but the town [of Branford], too": seven of the sculptures will be auctioned off at an event tentatively planned for this summer. Proceeds will benefit the Zane's Foundation, which provides scholarships for college-bound Branford seniors. (The winning sculpture, Spring Loaded by Silas Finch, will remain on permanent display in the store. It will be joined by succeeding sculpture contest winners.)
Before they're up for silent auction, though, the sculptures will make a series of appearances at fine art galleries and specialty shows throughout the spring.
Look for the creations on Saturday, April 21 in New Haven when Reynolds Fine Art celebrates the opening of its Wheels exhibition with an Outdoor Wheels Show on Orange Street (visit reynoldsfineart.com). The Yale Art Gallery has also expressed interest in showing the sculptures, says DeJoseph. Of course, your best bet is to stop by Zane's at 330 East Main Street to check out the pieces.
"They'll stay up for a few weeks," says DeJoseph, emphasizing, "The pictures don't even do them justice."
So far, the response to the sculptures has been so "tremendous," she adds, that Zane's will make the competition a yearly event.
Zane's Cycles is located at 330 East Main Street in Branford. For more information about the sculpture competition and exhibit, call Store Manager Tom Girard at 203-488-3244 or visit zanes.com.