On The Simpsons episode titled “Homer vs. the Eighteenth Amendment,” the great Homer Simpson made a cogent toast to the Jehovian power of alcoholic beverages: “To alcohol: the cause of—and solution to—all of life’s problems.” Indeed, Pat Scharfe of Missoula Bicycle Works has experienced the positive benefits of hoisting a pint now and then.
While sipping a Blackfoot Brewing Co. beer, Scharfe noticed an ad for the annual On Deck skateboard deck art auction, where artists turn blank decks into all sorts of repurposed masterpieces. The On Deck fundraiser left him wondering if, under a similar setup, people would snatch up cycling helmets. And so the The Helmet Project was born.
Scharfe contacted Bell Helmets and the company offered up 24 white helmets to get the project started. Scharfe then enlisted a wide variety of artists to participate, including Courtney Blazon, Jennifer Bardsley, Ron Miller and Bound by Glory tattoo artists Aaron Dor Dixon and Joel Valkner. Most of the helmets auctioned will be wearable, although certainly only on special occasions, such as a naked crit.
The project had to have a purpose, though, a solution to one of life’s problems, if you will. Therefore, all the proceeds benefit the Tanner Olsen Memorial BMX Park. Olsen, a promising young snowboarder and all-round athlete, was killed in a car accident in 2011. Via various fundraising efforts, Olsen’s family and friends have raised approximately half of the $100,000 needed to start on the project. The Helmet Project will help close the gap even more.
The Helmet Project silent art auction benefitting the Tanner Olsen Memorial BMX Park takes place at Missoula Bicycle Works, 708 S. Higgins Ave., on Thu., April 11, from 6:30 to 9 PM, with a performance by The Boxcutters, as well as hors d’oeuvres and beverages.