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Local artist learns the art of motorcycle painting

Wednesday, September 19th, 2012 | Posted by

A few months ago, artist Marc Harris was asked to paint a motorcycle.

Not just any motorcycle but the soon-to-be-released Kawasaki Ninja, which the company wanted to introduce in a press event staged in Healdsburg. Representatives of the Irvine, California-based motorcycle maker had identified the two-year-old Harris Gallery as a perfect spot to hold the event.

“We loved the look of it,” says Aimee Soto, public relations specialist at Kawasaki. “It’s very industrial and modern which reflected the sleek, modern look of the bike.”

But they didn’t just want to use the space. They had a special request — that Harris, who paints under the name M.C. Harris, would turn one of the bikes into a work of art. He immediately agreed.

“It was definitely an unusual request,” says Harris, who shares the gallery with his son, Alex, also a painter. “And a wonderful opportunity to do something I hadn’t done before. It was thrilling.”

Local artist Marc Harris created an "art bike" out of the new Kawasaki Ninja. It sits in his gallery under one of his paintings.

Kawasaki sent Harris the fairings from the bike (the plastic parts fitted on the outside to help reduce drag).  He says he spent about three weeks thinking about how to approach the project and then about a month working on it. The hard part was figuring out how all the pieces would look as a finished project, so Harris came up with a creative solution.

“I pulled a bicycle into my studio and set up the pieces on it so I could see how it would look reassembled,” he said. “I’m very happy with how it turned out.”

The motorcycle was set up in Harris’ gallery this week for the private press event. Its swirls of bright colors attracted gawkers all afternoon.

“We think what Marc did was beautiful,” says Soto. “It fits what we see as unique to this bike. It’s a modern sportbike look on an entry level model.”

Soto says the company chose Healdsburg for its proximity to some of the best motorcycle riding roads in the country, including Skaggs Springs Road, where earlier this week the company staged test rides for reporters on the new bike.

And Harris has found himself a new “canvas.” He says plans to create more one-of-a-kind versions of the motorcycle.

– Elizabeth Cosin

  • Casie Yauch

    Excellent work indeed. Any of them would look great in a nice frame, on a wall. I don’t think it’s the kind of thing that looks as good on a screen. For simple me, those first impressions signal it as art more than anything I could be told about it. Love to see the ones that didn’t make the final cut.

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