It’s time to wave goodbye to Ai Weiwei’s beloved work of public art, “Forever Bicycles,” which has been a popular Instagram spot since it was installed on the Waller Creek delta as part of a long-term loan in the summer of 2017.
“De-install begins May 16,” said Waller Creek Conservancy spokeswoman Meredith Bossin. “Our last activation at the site will be on May 11, a concert with Steve Parker to celebrate Bike Month.”
“Forever Bicycles” is a grouping of 1,200 bicycles on a pedestal previously seen in different versions with different names in New York, Washington, Venice, London and elsewhere. The Forever brand bicycles that zip around Beijing inspired the activist/artist Ai, perhaps the most famous living artist in the world.
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Some fans would like to have acquired “Forever Bicycles” permanently for Austin. A quiet campaign was organized to raise the money informally. The Waller Creek Conservancy would not disclose a possible price tag.
"It was never meant to be truly permanent," said Nicole Chism Griffin, spokeswoman for the Contemporary Austin, which teamed with the Conservancy to bring "Forever Bicycles" to the city. "Some artworks are just too expensive to maintain."
Last year, however, the Contemporary Austin acquired Ai’s smaller “Iron Tree Trunk” for the Marcus Sculpture Park at the Contemporary Austin Laguna Gloria. Some 70 donors, including Edward and Betty Marcus Foundation and the FLAG Art Foundation contributed to that cause.
Both “Forever Bicycles” and “Iron Tree Trunk” arrived as long-term loans arranged by the Contemporary Austin and the Waller Creek Conservancy with help from a $1.1 million grant from the Edward and Betty Marcus Foundation.