Steel Ponies, an exhibition at Indianapolis’ Eiteljorg Museum, features an intriguing array of motorcycles that have cultural ties to the American west. Bikes on display include one used by Evel Knievel and the chopper ridden by “Captain America” (played by Peter Fonda) in Easy Rider.
One of the most prominent bikes featured is the custom chopper built for the Saginaw Chippewa Tribe by Orange County Choppers (OCC) on an episode of American Chopper that aired in 2009.
In her first-person account written for Main Line Media News, a writer gives the American Chippewa motorcycle her vote for best in show. “The bike captured the Native American artistry and symbolism known to the tribe including fetish symbols of animals like turtles, eagles, fish and deer,” she writes. “OCC artists working on this custom cycle used braided leather to wrap the large gas tank, a fringed suede seat cover and other natural materials. Their choice of materials and design for the custom bike conveyed the free-spirited feeling of the Native Americans and connected horseback riding with the contemporary chopper.”
Other touches on the bike include treatments of the surfaces that suggest woven or beaded materials, or stitched and tanned hides. The intricate, dreamcatcher-like mag wheels are a particularly impressive feat of metalwork.
“Because of its Native American styling and tribute to the Chippewa people of Saginaw, Mich., this particular motorcycle seemed a perfect fit for Steel Ponies,” said White Wolf James, Eiteljorg assistant curator and curator of Steel Ponies, in a release.
To view more photos of the bike, and others in the show, visit Pandora-no-hako’s Eiteljorg Museum Flickr page.
The Steel Ponies exhibition is ongoing, an concludes August 5.