Part 1: By Krylon John
The spirit of David Mann, and his many contributions to the biker lifestyle lives on at Chopperfest held every December in Ventura, California, since 2004. Now heading towards its 9th annual celebration the event will once again return to the Ventura County Fairgrounds adjacent to the glistening shores the Pacific Ocean. Originally the brainchild of Dave “Huggy Bear” Hansen, as a gathering to celebrate choppers in general, the event soon tightened its focus with the passing of David Mann, on September 11, 2004.
Huggy Bear, along with his crew from The Shop in Ventura got the ball rolling, and the first annual David Mann Chopperfest included an exhibit of David’s art along with a lot of the Mann’s motorcycle industry friends attending from all over the nation.
This year there was a brief moment of panic at the last hour setting up the art gallery when no one from Segal Fine Art had appeared to hang giclee renditions of David Mann’s paintings on the walls. After working all day moving in entrants, and vendors, The Shop’s Tory Du Varney devised a way to hang David’s art, and worked late into the night getting it done. As a shameless plug, I guess I can also mention six of my abstract paintings were seen for the first time in a public exhibit.
In addition to the art exhibit, Chopperfest always includes a custom motorcycle show held in the large grassy area adjacent to the front gates. There were a glistening 155 entries in the bike show. The guys into British bikes packed the place with some of the finest Limeys around. Mostly magazine editors along with a few other guys judge the show involved in the motorcycle industry. The list of judges included Kit Maira, "Kiwi" Mike Tomas, Beaner, Harold "McGoo" McGruther, “Clean” Dean Shawler, Kim Petersen, “Milwaukee” Mike, Duane Ballard, Matt Davis, and Tim uh, sorry can’t remember Tim’s last name, and lastly John Gilbert, that’s me.
Art from author Krylon John--amazing shot on glass. On display at the Chopperfest.
All of us take the judging process quite seriously, and each class is judged by guys with a good understanding of what they’re looking at. To give a little insight into how things work I’ll share a few things I’ve learned in the past three years that I’ve been a judge. The key to the whole thing is to pick a motorcycle that embodies the essence of the bikes depicted in David Mann’s Easyriders, and Biker magazine centerspreads.
For example an old chopper that’s obviously still a rider will place higher than a barn find survivor that hasn’t leaked on a public highway with current tags in a long time. It’s all about keeping choppers alive. One of the bikes that I placed third in front some bikes that were nicer in appearance, placed because the kid bothered to stick around, and fill me in on what features it had that didn’t meet the eye. What capped it off was the kid who had just finished the rigid-framer the night before, and blasted all the way up from Camp Pendleton just to be in the show. That’s the kind of lifestyle experiences David Mann portrayed in his paintings.
That said, you folks who hauled out the survivors, or showed regular street bikes don’t get discouraged if you didn't win, because everyone really enjoyed seeing what you built. The odds are good your bike will show up somewhere in the pages of a magazine, or archived forever on Bikernet.com.
In addition to a large indoor, and outdoor swap meet area with new and used parts, Chopperfest attracts the best of the best when it comes to shops that specialize in choppers, and related services. The list included, Old Gold Garage, Ventura Motorworks, Todd’s Cycle, Top Shelf, Nash Motorcycle Co. Garage Company, Evil Spirit Engineering, Boars Nest, Santa Clarita Choppers, Born Free Cycles, Jim’s Machine, Performance Machine, Split Image Kustoms, Sic Chops, Chassis Design Studio, and Kiwi Indian.
There are two Dave Hansens involved in the inner workings of David Mann Chopperfest. Perhaps it was “Big” Dave Hansen who described the event best when he said, “Chopperfest has become more than a swap meet, show or memorial. It’s a lovefest and a must go to gathering for anyone who appreciates bikes, art and the culture. Mostly, it is about the people, and who makes it unique.”
The 9th Annual Chopperfest will be held December 9, 2012.
Vicki couldn't find a babe, but Bob T. did.
Part 2: Story by: STEALTH
Friday December 9th 2011, Vicki and I made our way to California for our annual visit with my good friend Bandit. It is always a pleasure to visit with him and Nyla and the Bikernet
This time we flew in on a red-eye to attend the 8th Annual Dave Mann Chopper Festival in Ventura California on Sunday December 11th 2011. Most of you who have ever picked up an EASYRIDERS
magazine know Dave Mann, or maybe I should say know of his artwork. His artwork was always featured as the centerfold in Easyriders
and later on, in Biker magazine
and in some early Iron Horse
Dave Mann’s artwork inspired many a chopper builder from coast to coast. I remember going to the local 7/11 store and picking up a copy of Easyriders
, the same day it arrived, I had the shipment schedule down to the day! The first thing I would turn to was the Dave Mann centerfold to see what he had created. Looking at his motorcycle artwork, you could hear the bike roar and feel the wind in your hair and no detail was ever missing. One thing I learned some years back was that Dave never added valve stems to the wheels in his artwork. I guess that was his trademark? His work made you want to get and out and burn some asphalt or hit the garage and turn some wrenches.
I have two pieces of his artwork signed by THE MANN himself. They are two possessions I really value. My garage walls are covered with Dave Mann art and anyone who has been into bikes for any length of time probably has at least one piece of his work displayed in their garage. His artwork often portrayed a brothers spending time in their garage building bikes.
For me attending the Chopper Fest was a dream come true. Panheads, Knuckleheads, and Shovelheads dominated the show. There were some cool Evos and one or two Twin Cams on display. You won’t find any baggers at this show. All of the bikes are true to Dave Mann’s artwork, Ape Hangers, Z-bars, Jockey shifts, tank shifters, solo seats, kick starters, bare bones, nothing extra on these bikes, choppers at their purest form.
I was like a kid in a candy store, not knowing where to look first. All of the bikes could have been sprouted from an Easyriders
centerfold. The bikes in the show are top shelf; these bikes are riders not trailer candy. The competition was stiff. If you win a Dave Mann award, you have pulled off a major feat! I would hate to be a judge. They had serious work cut out for each judge! The atmosphere at the show was cool, lots of vendors with lots of parts.
Vicki and I saw some amazing scenery riding up the Pacific Coast Highway to the show. On one side was the Pacific Ocean warmed by the sun and splashing against the craggy coast, and on the other side were the Santa Monica Mountains splashed with winter greens, winding roads and big buck homes, JUST AMAZING! By the way, we rented a 2011 Electra Glide Classic. I wanted to rent a Softail or a Sons of Anarchy Dyna but Vicki insisted on the BIG love seat on the back?
I am very fortunate and very thankful for having the opportunity to attend the show this year. . Thanks Vicki and thanks to Bandit, Sin Wu, Nyla, the security dogs, and Claude the African Macaw, for letting us stay in the vast and dangerous Bikernet Headquarters. Also thanks to Ray Wheeler for being our personal chauffeur for the weekend. How boutcha Ray!!
Dave Mann passed away in 2004. There will never be another artist like him. He was THE MANN! He lives on in his artwork hanging in biker’s garages, from coast to coast! Check out all the bikes from the show, I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.
Until next time, RIDE!
Nobody builds a classic chopper as tight as Paul Wheeler.