Tasmanian Road Tar Art

Call this one the update from the road more repaired….

Used to be I dreamed of becoming a sophisticate – drive a fancy car and swish wine around my face while gazing at modern art I pretended to understand. I got as far as drinking the wine but went off adventuring long before I developed the taste and finances for fancy cars.

No these days, tackling the back roads of Tasmania on a bike that cost less than a six-pack of Tassie’s Cascade beer, I’ve discovered something much more eclectic.

Road tar art.

To return to the beer analogy, the first time I rode my ten-speed bike, for which I paid the equivalent of three Tasmanian beers, I discovered only half the gears worked – and they were the high ones. Dang….

You’ve come a long way baby: sometimes in life, you aim for a wine tasting but end up pushing a bike up a muddy hill – and are happy… (outside Fingal, Tasmania)

That means I spent lots of time shoving my bike up hills. Any time I come to a grade steeper than 2%, I have to get off and push. Which is lots of the time. Tassie is one hilly island. Which means, on hard top roads, I spend lots of time staring at pavement – at the pace of walk. At first, while the parrots whizzing from gum to gum were still a novelty, that was okay. But in time, to keep a middle-aged fellow’s mind off the foolishness of pushing a bike uphill day after day, he has to turn his brain to other distractions.

Like road tar art.

Here in Tasmania, right in front of my eyes, I discovered an amazing world of art that’s slipped under the bumpers of the high tone art world. Yeah, nestled among the tar repairs of Tasmania’s backroads, I started noticing all sorts of beautiful designs and sketchs. Okay, so it’s a bit like me looking into the clouds and seeing sailboats, mules and mermaids. You see what you want to.

With road tar art (a new field art I just made up) it’s the same. In my case, when I’m sweating and pushing my bike up another damn steep Tasmanian hill, I’m dreaming of a Harley. Or maybe a go-fast touring bike with a shiny paint job and a fancy flag.

Which is how I discovered my recent find: a road tar chopper, in the sleek Retro Deco look, just outside Risdon Vale, Tasmania. Right there on the road I was pushing my bike up. Sure, for all you litteral cads, it didn’t have perfectly round wheels. Or even handle bars now that I look closely. Call it more of a concept bike. Which suits me fine. I’m more of a concept guy.

There it was – my dream bike, right down to the flag. Hell, it even looks like it’s moving fast

Two bikes: Call me crazy, but some guy in a hardhat and a tar pot is having a hell of a good time out there on these back roads. Makes you wonder what other designs are out there.

Since then, I’ve quite enjoyed my uphill Tassie struggles. I’ve taken to spending that bit of extra time scanning the tar beneath my feet looking for designs and sketches compliments of the highway department. Sketches, if they were framed and hung in some fancy gallery, would surely be discovered by the critics that have driven over them for years. Artwork, if I’d gotten my wish of a fancy car and drink, I’d have roared over in my haste to get to the gallery opening….

Good luck spotting some tar art of your own! And be sure to email me some pics of your masterpeice.

2011-02-01 08:51:37

Sounds like you had better hunker down and batten down the hatches before the cyclone hits!
Here in Indiana we have about an inch of ice with more on the way and then snow and high winds!!!
Stay safe.

2011-02-05 04:04:56

Bernie, we met a while back in Artesia, NM. I just wanted to let you know that you (and Polly) really inspired me in lot of ways. Thank you for that. The tar art is awesome. Happy travels.


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