What comes to your mind with the name, David Mann? For many, he is thought of as an icon; regarded as an inspirational artist in the capacity to convey feelings through his paintings that people could relate to; and remembered as an influential being with the ability to initiate change in bike styles over decades through brush strokes. From gallery walls to bike shops, his art is still around and being admired--and plenty of people still hoard issues of Easyriders with his centerfolds.
As a tribute to him, the second annual David Mann Chopper Fest was held on December 11, 2005, which was put together by Dave Hansen, owner of The Shop, in Ventura, California. I gathered with the crowds of people, including Jacquie Mann, wife of the late, beloved artist, at the Ventura County Fairgrounds at Seaside Park, which is nestled between some canyon-carving roadways great for riding and, well, the Pacific Ocean in Southern California. With sunny skies overhead and temps in the '70s, the beach had slightly enticed me, but the outside chopper fest won out by a long shot. The roaring engines, live rock music, and thirst-quenchers that lurked behind the admission gates were an enticing invitation for me, and apparently a lot of others.
There were a variety of things to keep people occupied and entertained--important criteria for staying out of trouble. The fest was laid out well with plenty of walking space, none of that shoulder-to-shoulder bull like at some other events. I had a good time being able to rock out with the crowds to the live music without wearing somebody's beer on my T-shirt (water is one thing). We also freely and happily moved about the land, and checked out loads of customs, old school scoots, choppers, and bobbers that were entered in the bike show, in addition to some that were parked in the lot outside the gates.
The all-brand bike show titled, "If you build it they will come," brought in not only a good-sized audience, but also some big-name bike builders. Armed with customs, they included Exile Cycles', Russell Mitchell, Chica, Von Dutch Kustom's, and Central Coast Cycles, to name a few. With the laid-back, yet entertaining atmosphere, it was no wonder people were looking, shopping, or rocking to something at the fest. There were hundreds of vendors that dotted the fairgrounds, which offered plenty of affordable and useful accessories and apparel. Speaking of useful, new and used bike parts were scattered about, which brought a kid in a candy store reaction from wrenchers at the swap meet. I got a kick out of walking the aisles of parts and listening, or being nosy, to conversations about latest building projects. So what if curiosity killed the cat.
Now because the fest was a tribute to David Mann, it couldn't have been complete without his art. Ron Siegel Fine Art provided an exhibit of over 30 of his original paintings that were reflective of his appreciation for the motorcycle and the art of riding. And yes, Ghost Rider was one of them. For information about attending this year's event, check out www.chopperfestival.com.