Lance Carleton’s “Fat Tire #7” Climbing Sculpture, Puyallup

metal bike art with kids on it
Located in Puyallup Pioneer Park

Pioneer Park’s “Fat Tire #7” recycled steel sculpture of a bicycle in motion crafted by the talented Lance Carleton is indeed designed for climbing – something the late Washington artist intended and even encouraged 🙂

blue box text with black and white portrait of a manOn Saturday, the kids and I headed east toward Puyallup (Pew-WALL-Up) Washington to scope out the famous Puyallup Farmers’ Market at Pioneer Park. I’m writing all about the market this week. But first, let’s talk about the city park’s super cool bike sculpture that my kids (and I’m pretty sure all kids) were immediately drawn to.

As soon as they saw the big curved wheels and seat for two, Clara and Wyatt stepped right up on their pretend ride. At first, I got all cringe-y, worried that we/they were defacing public art by getting their grubby little kid shoes all over it. But then I noticed the steel was worn at the foot pedals … and got to wondering.

So I took note of the title, “Fat Tire #7” by Lance Carleton (of Lake Stevens WA), and Googled it when I got home.

metal bike art with kids on itSure enough, the Arts Downtown Facebook post gives all the deets on Lance’s artwork, ending the post with a note saying the piece was definitely sculpted for climbing!

You can even see a flat metal pedal platform in the middle that fits a foot perfectly – a helpful, and as it turns out, intentional feature. Although Fat Tire #7 has been on display since 2017 (I think), I definitely wanted to put the word out there about the artists’ hopes and dreams for the way the public can interact with it. Especially for other parents wondering (or feeling guilty) about whether their kids could climb it, too.

About Fat Tire #7

“Fat Tire #7”, which is cleverly designed to appear as if the wheels are in motion, is definitely not a “Do Not Touch” piece. It was designed to allow viewers to climb aboard, an activity that delights the artist.

metal bike art with kids on itFeatured in Arts Downtown, Puyallup’s very own Outdoor Gallery program, Lance’s “Fat Tire #7” is one of several pieces in the city’s free, year-round outdoor gallery (here’s a map) featuring artworks by professional and emerging artists. Lance’s bike is part of the program’s permanent collection.

I don’t know where Fat Tires 1 – 6 are, or if there’s even a full series, but I did find Lance’s Fat Tire #4 selection here in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. I read that his steel sculptures have been sold to many art councils and displayed in different cities in Washington and beyond.

It’s on the South Dakota site where Lance is quoted: “I have chosen reclaimed materials as my media from which I draw much of the inspiration for each piece. I want to stretch the limits of the materials I use until there is heart and soul in each piece.”

When trying to link Lance’s website, I’m sad to say I found his obit instead. He died in 2020 at the age of 73 (additional info here). All the more reason for us as parents and kids to honor his memory by playing and loving on his artwork designed to encourage the exploration of motion and art that he loved so much. His family also has ties to Carleton Farms … I wonder if the steel and metalworks of farm equipment played into his inspirations?

The Arts Downtown Post:
screen shot of facebook post with a pic of a metal bike and text

On his website, the artist (Lance Carleton) describes himself as an “intuitive artist creating contemporary art in an eclectic style”.

Mr. Carleton’s body of work is diverse and imaginative, and much is very down-to-earth, even functional, but he expresses his vision of art and his life as an artist in terms that are beyond poetic, perhaps rhapsodic:
“Opening my innermost mind to the visions not yet seen is ecstasy beyond words… to observe my hands molding metal into form and shape as if it were a message… to watch it being textured and ground as if it were the Fourth of July… to cast paint and finish on the art is as if it were a dance. Oh, what a glorious place I am in.”
Mr. Carleton takes great pleasure in observing viewers of his sculptures as they move back and forth and around his pieces. “Fat Tire #7”, which is cleverly designed to appear as if the wheels are in motion, is definitely not a “Do Not Touch” piece. It was designed to allow viewers to climb aboard, an activity that delights the artist.

FIND IT:  “Fat Tire #7” is located between the playground and the spray park at Pioneer Park, 324 S Meridian, in Puyallup WA.

About Tonya Strickland

Tonya Strickland is a journalist and Instagram influencer in the family and travel niche. A former newspaper reporter, Tonya shares unfiltered #momlife content about places to go with kids. Her family moved from California's Central Coast to Washington state in August 2020. Their adventures now continue in the Pacific Northwest.

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