While a young woman in glasses busies herself behind the shop's coffee counter, bikes are everywhere you look: hanging from the ceilings, decorating lonely corners, dangling from the deer and buffalo heads mounted on the wall. A black cat hops over the threshold separating coffee shop from bicycle repair studio, which emanates the sort of sawdusty odor hardware stores often do.
Ah, but wait! This is no ordinary bike shop. Portraits also line the walls of One on One, painted in vivid hues by the brush of Mary Gibney, a Minneapolis artist. Last weekend she debuted an exhibit at One on One called "Head Shots and Found Faces," a group of portraits based on old police mugshots -- women in '50s cat-eye glasses, a young car thief, a platinum-haired Etta James look-alike described as a "hophead," staring out at their voyeurs as though we're a camera's intrusive flash.
"The mugshots were so immediate, clear and obviously captured at a vulnerable moment, with such a wide range of expressions -- pain, anger, shame, defiance, indifference, sorrow, repentance," Gibney said.
The folks at One on One are no strangers to art exhibits, having brought in several since they opened the coffee shop five years ago in the former Yoshiko's Sauna. The first exhibits were cycling-specific, such as the annual Art Crank, billed as a "poster party for bike people," which opens April 4. The brainchild of One on One owner Gene Oberpriller and curator Charles Youel, Art Crank will travel to Denver this year and has inspired similar events in Cleveland and Vancouver.
A bike shop may be an unconventional locale for an art exhibit, but the setting is by no means intrusive. If anything, it makes Gibney's work more visually arresting.
"They clear away the bike stuff for opening night," Gibney said, "but as the month goes on, the bikes will be back and the colors and faces, even though they're obviously two different contexts, will work well together. The bike room will be sort of energized by the portraits."
Oberpriller incorporated the art gallery after touring bike shops around the nation.
"It came down to the artistic element to the bicycles," he said. "There are over 300 frame builders, artists in their own right. The nail in the coffin was the building, which [in its upstairs apartments] used to house a lot of artists in the '70s until the musicians took it over in the '80s and then bikes in the '90s."
Kara Nesvig is a University of Minnesota student on assignment for the Star Tribune.