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  • Kyle Munson
  • Fri March 03 2017
  • Posted Mar 6, 2017

Appropriately enough, the first time I spot Steve McGuire, he’s on a bicycle.

In motion. He rolls up to us indoors.

My photojournalist co-conspirator Brian Powers and I stand on the ground floor inside the new Visual Arts Building on the University of Iowa campus shortly before the start of McGuire’s hand-built bicycle class.

The professor of metal arts and 3-D design disembarks from a beefy, spattered titanium bike with 3-inch tires — one wrought by his own hands.

McGuire, 58, evolved from an artist and sculptor into a bike guru of academia. A 27-year veteran of the university, he now schools new generations of budding mechanical engineers and other college majors in his two-wheeled philosophy.

This class is unique; there have been precursors at Stanford and a few other schools, but the scope and reputation of what McGuire and his students have achieved since 2011 is gaining global renown.

This also is a testament to a cultural shift: The bicycle itself increasingly has become a piece of art as well as a trendy pastime and revolutionary social utility.

“Any bicycle frame is an act of interpretation,” McGuire says. “You’re trying to match a person, what it is they want to ride, the kind of ride they want to do.”


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