Some art installations shouldn't be delivered by motorized vehicle.
After all, "Looking Up," a hollow dome constructed from bicycle wheels, is intended to bolster support for two Missoula bicycling nonprofits, in addition to a future art park.
The dome was built by staff members and volunteers at Free Cycles, a community bike shop raising money for a permanent home. (See related story.)
On Friday morning a small crew of staff members and volunteers from Free Cycles set the dome, roughly 10 feet tall and 12 feet in diameter, atop a custom-built bike cart towed by an equally custom-built two-seater tricycle.
A phalanx of other bicyclists helped stop traffic as the dome made its way from the bike shop on South First Street West toward Fourth Street.
One woman stepped out on her front porch just as the dome passed, with just enough time to say "that's great." A vehicle that the team stopped when they turned left onto Higgins Avenue repeated the sentiment, and shoppers on the Hip Strip took pictures on their phones.
It wasn't until the art piece, wide enough to block two lanes, reached the bridge that traffic began to build up behind it. Two bikers – the kind that ride motorcyclists – were vocally unhappy, but soon were able to get out from behind their unmotorized peers.
In less than 45 minutes, the dome was hoisted off the cart and placed on the grass at the Missoula Art Museum on Pine Street, the future site of the Missoula Art Park.
The planned park is a joint project between the city of Missoula, the MAM and Adventure Cycling Association, a nonprofit across the street from the museum. It's promoted bicycle tourism, including the development of routes and maps as well as guided trips. This year marks the organization's 40th anniversary.
The art park will feature an outdoor sculpture garden with rotating exhibitions. The park will be built out into what are currently parking spaces in front of the museum and the cycling headquarters.
In addition to art, it will boast amenities like bench-seating, lighting, trees, planters and a safety-minded "Portland Loo" restroom.
They hope to break ground on the park by late July or the first of August, said Laura Millan, the museum's executive director.
The dome, which will be in place for about a month, is acting a "precursor" of the exhibits to come, Millan said.
Curator Brandon Reintjes said it acts as a nice public expression of art, as well as advocating for others.
"We really believe that MAM is a vital part of a healthy, engaged community, so we want to support Adventure Cycling and we want to support Free Cycle's quest to find funding for a permanent home," he said.
The construction of "Looking Up" was spearheaded by shop director John Bonewitz and volunteer/welder Conan Armantrout, with the help of numerous volunteers who gathered the wheels and removed the axles.
Once that was done, it was time to construct the dome.
Bonewitz said they set a pole in the middle to act as the radius point. Atop that pole, they mounted another pole with a caster so that it could rotate in every direction.
"On the end of that we had a gauge so we could essentially hold each wheel while we welded it into shape," he said.
The top of the dome has a spiral accent, which will hold a wind rudder. They're considering some lights to draw attention to the rudder at night, "like a beacon to look up to," Armantrout said.