Art, community and motorcycles, the Outlier’s Guild Motorcycle Show creates a melting pot of moto-culture in the heart of LA. Reagan Alexander gets the story behind the show.
Photos: Lauryn Myres
It’s not uncommon for a group of friends, those with a shared love of motorcycle culture and the machines that drive it, to wax lyrical about the idea of doing their own show. They’ll talk about the bikes, the fellowship, be it brotherhood or sisterhood, the bands, the beer… the bikes.
They’ll each see it all in their mind’s eye, motorcycle after motorcycle lined up in a gleaming parade. People from all walks will mingle, sharing riding stories or build ideas as they smile because the sun has momentarily forgotten the rest of the world and only warms their shoulders.
These friends will vow to put on a motorcycle show unlike any other.
Then they will wake up the next morning and invariably the hobgoblin of logistics, of herding builders and bikers, of finding a space, of working through the red tape of permits, rears its hydra head. The dream is shuffled to its tail gunner position in the back of the line of fanciful thoughts, right behind that of a fully operational motorcycle made entirely out of chocolate (I call her ‘The Cadbury Cruiser’).
Luckily for Los Angeles, four long-time friends, all from different backgrounds, but with that same shared love, started the well-worn conversation, never let go of the thread of that dream, and out of it was born The Outlier’s Guild Motorcycle Show.
Centre of attention
For the second straight year, on a Friday night, and with a daylong Saturday celebration, The OG Moto Show, gave us piston magpies a gathering that spoke as much of its city as it did the culture that it was celebrating. The motorcycles were the centre of attention at the 6th Anderson Gallery, but also feted seamlessly throughout the downtown venue were art, music, food, drink, and industry.
It all came about when Jay LaRossa and Stan Chen were working on a bike, and that conversation came up again. Why didn’t they have a show that could stand handlebar to handlebar with The Handbuilt show in Austin or the The One Moto Show in Portland?
The conversation turned into a phone call to their mutual friend, John Pangilinan, and as John remembers it, the next call he received from Stan was simply, “Hey, I found the location.”
To complete the foursome they invited Ralph Holguin, owner of RMD Garages, to fill in the gaps, and John says, “That is when the wheels really started churning, and we were neck deep into really trying to figure it out.”
Truth be told, a motorcycle show in a downtown Los Angeles gallery space is not what you would call re-inventing the wheel. However, there was a tangible freshness. A newness that had little to do with the nascent shows age. The OG Moto Show may only be a toddler, but like all things in Los Angeles (be that a good thing or a bad thing), it has grown up fast.
Beyond the remarkable machines that were the centrepiece of the show, there was an entire warehouse section dedicated to motorcycle-inspired art, featuring artists such as Steve Cabellero and Maryia Bulka, as well as a Helmet Exhibit, and one particularly large and terrifying installation that still has me checking underneath my bed at night.
On the Friday night – a private invite builders’ and friends’ evening – the entrants and the artists and musicians had a chance to wander about and share that common ground of creating and were serenaded by the LA-based punk garage band The Woolly Bandits. This gave the impression of walking into a rock concert and having a museum break-out.
Green-eyed with envy
When the show’s doors opened the next morning, there was a line at the gate to the gallery space and, as well represented as Triumph was inside, with five custom builds on the show floor itself, it was the single lane concrete road outside that would have made any proper motorcycle lover green-eyed with envy.
Bonnie after Bonnie, Tigers, Thruxtons and Bobbers, Triumphs old and new, all painstakingly cared for, all different, each with a story that could easily be told by their riders’ suddenly revealed smiles after they removed their helmets.
Food and clothing vendors, as well as sponsor booths, transformed the back alley into a bustling marketplace, and the steady throb of vinyl-spun Steppenwolf and Danzig was a warm, and familiar, embrace. Also, as was preordained, the sun broke through a bank of early arriving clouds.
Take that with a grain of salt, it is Los Angeles, but that is the point for these four fathers that wanted to create a family-friendly motorcycle show that lost nothing by embracing everything that they loved about the city.
Pieces staged in a gallery setting that was very ‘Los Angeles’. John says: “We wanted to plant our flag and say, we are the Los Angeles show.”
“We wanted to make it welcoming, inviting.”
Those of us who know Los Angeles are keenly aware that it is often not the most hospitable place; that for a city bathed in sunshine it has more than its fair share of dark pockets. But then you come along a little oasis like The Outliers Guild, where people who ride and people who don’t are all there for the same things. You realise that everyone in the room may be different but, at least for now, you are all exactly where you are supposed to be.