Ticket to Ride - Tucson Local Media: El Sol

Ticket to Ride

GOVAC to raffle artsy, custom-made motorcycle

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Posted: Wednesday, January 14, 2009 12:00 am

Nobody could accuse Johann Gyver of being boring.

After all, he did grip work for “Highway to Hell,” a 1992 film about a woman who is kidnapped by a zombie cop en route to Las Vegas and journeys to Hell to become a bride of Satan. (He claims it was bad.)

He also custom builds motorcycles that are airbrushed by a Prescott woman whose work has appeared in the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York City.

And if that isn’t enough, the man knows his jazz.

Gyver, who lives in the Three Points area, is putting his varied interests to work to benefit the Greater Oro Valley Arts Council. He plans to build a motorcycle, have it painted in a way that honors the arts, and sell raffle tickets to those wishing to own it. He’s putting together a concert by local jazz musicians to promote the raffle.

All proceeds are to go to the arts council’s programs in the community and in schools.

“I’m old enough and have had a good life so far,” Gyver said. “I would like to help get some other people started.”

Gyver’s affinity for motorcycles goes back to his youth. In the 1950s, his dad worked for Harley- Davidson in Michigan, and that meant Gyver got to see the vehicles upclose.

“They put me on and let me ride around the fields,” he said. “That’s how I was entertained.”

A bout with lead poisoning in early adulthood steered Gyver away from work with motorcycles and into a career in film. But the motorcycle enthusiast never lost the urge to build.

When a filming gig several years ago connected Gyver with the Crazy Horse Memorial in South Dakota, he saw his chance to create a bike.

He’d create something fitting for the site of a famous mountain-face carving of a Lakota warrior on a horse pointing into the distance, he told those in charge. He’d take the bike on a tour of motorcycle events and then raffle it for the benefit of the memorial.

“I’m taking money I would have spent on advertising and doing something good,” Gyver said. “And in a way, it’s also advertising.”

The motorcycle made its rounds in Philadelphia, Nevada and California. Then it acquired a display spot at the memorial. It ended up raising more than $200,000 for the memorial.

When Gyver moved to Tucson in 2007, he hoped to find a similar charity project, preferably one revolving this time around jazz.

“Music has always been what calms me down,” he said. “I was in my 20s when I discovered jazz. After a crazy day, I would come in and sit down and mellow out.”

A friend put him in touch with Special Events Director Jonas Hunter at GOVAC.

Together, they started thinking about how an arts council motorcycle project might work. “It’s money that goes to sustain and promote the arts,” Hunter said.

Gyver went to work gathering local artists for a Latin jazz performance to raise awareness of the raffle. The resulting group, Soulero, will perform 7 to 9:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 24 at Westward Look Resort. Gyver organized and paid for the concert, and he said he’s making a point to not ruin it by harping too much on the raffle.

“Come out and enjoy the music and have a good time,” Gyver said. “All I’m asking is that you buy a ticket. That’s it.”

After the concert, Gyver plans to get to work on the arts council’s motorcycle, a soft tail with a Harley motor, which he said is worth $80,000. Artist Dawne Holmes, whose work appeared at the Guggenheim, has agreed to airbrush it.

Then, the motorcycle will be ready to make the rounds at biker bars. If things go as planned, Gyver will end up with a film of the whole process — from scrap metal to new owners — which he wants to try to sell to a cable television network.

“The whole show would be about the charity that we’re building the bike for and what they’re trying to do,” Gyver said. “It would include some pieces from the concert, a little bit of the tour of the bike and then the people who win it.”

The raffle winner is set to be announced in October at the arts council’s Barbecue and Blues show, Hunter said.

Gyver said the prize should offer more than just transportation.

“It’s rolling art is what it is,” he said. “Hopefully as time goes by, it will be worth more as an art piece.”


WHAT: Soulero jazz concert

WHAT: 7-9:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 24

WHERE: Westward Look Resort, 245 E. Ina Road

COST: $15 for concert; motorcycle raffle tickets are $20 each or three for $50.

PHONE: 797-3959

ONLINE: http://www.govac.org">www.govac.org

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