Author Archives: Molly Keen

About Molly Keen

Molly Keen-Aigner is an enthusiastic bike lover who travels the world by bike and backpack while making murals!

Painting in Joshua Tree

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Twice a year, the Joshua Tree Music Festival happens in the desert of Southern California making up the Mojave and Colorado desert. Its stunning, the size of Rhode Island and one of my places to gather to meet other artists, listen to international music and get to know more about Joshua Tree.

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This is my third festival with them. This year I decided to be apart of the Art Auction where 21 artists get together to do live painting throughout the festival. At the end, the pieces are put on display for a silent art auction where half the proceeds go to the music education fund in Joshua Tree. Its an amazing way to engage artists and the community. I love that the festival puts such value on the visual arts.

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This year I decided to listen to some music and enjoy the festival before I immediately started painting. Last festival I had to paint an 8 foot by 6 foot piece so I was a bit more stressed out. This year it was 2 1/2 feet by 2 1/2 feet and I could carry it with me wherever I wanted. There was shade, thank goodness and I could actually listen to all the live music and I met a lot of people because they would enjoy the progress of my piece throughout the festival.

   

Here are some process shots of how I painted the murals. Of course the background first, then slowly deciding where I wanted to put people and the parts of the festival. I walked around with my board for this part and just sketching in front of what I was painting. This was one of my favorite parts because people were super intrigued with this process. This also came with sticky notes so I could play with the composition and make sure I had room for the entire festival and all the things that made it so special.

I spent most of my time shaded in the “Bowl” that included 3 musical stages and performances from 10am-11:30pm with artists rotating almost every 1.5 hours. I listened to almost every set of music that was played. Quality music and painting combined made for a dreamy weekend. Below you can also see the silent art auction and how they set it up for us on the sunny Sunday morning of the festival. People could go around and write on the clip board how much they wanted to bid. I was a little nervous!


   

I have to admit that I am not the biggest fan of people seeing my artwork before its done, let alone when its just in the planning stage and many people ask if its done. That is why I like the festival, to push myself and get out of my comfort zone of a studio or a blank wall inside alone. Music, friends, food, art and workshops this festival was a great way to connect with community and introduce art at the same time.

 

My absolute favorite part of the weekend was getting to interact with people who were speaking about my painting, and then I was able to paint them into my piece. I loved the children getting excited about their cartoon character coming to life. My painting was a hit with children as the same children would sneak back to my painting about once an hour to make sure they were still in the painting. They were so engaged and it was incredible to make them feel included and excited about something creative.

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In particular one girl, Chloe stood out to me as she was more than an admirer, she was an assistant. This beautiful 6 year old gave me advice about what things she wanted to see in the festival, composition, and she even got to paint a little of it with me. I appreciated her excitement and loyalty to the piece. She helped me out, and I enjoyed the company. Her family, all featured in the piece, ended up purchasing the piece through the auction and I could not be happier about it. Pretty special and it was a great experience.

  

Until next festival Joshua Tree, hope to see you all in May!

Completion of Bike Tour- 1,500 Miles Canada to Oakland

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PleasantRevolutionIn June 2016 the start of summer, I rode the Amtrack train to Seattle, Washington from Berkeley, California. 24 hours by train with my bicycle panniers and extracycle bicycle that I had boxed and ready for shipping. From Seattle I joined with 12 other cyclists and we started out on a journey that would last 2.5 months and over 1,500 miles of pure cycling. We organized over 31 human powered festivals with the 4 bands on bicycles. We are called the Pleasant Revolution and put on Biketopia Music Festivals all over the world.

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We each had loads on our bicycles consisting of microphone stands, stilts, food, stove, pots and pans, 2 amps, a subwoofer (80 pounds made into a trailer), cables and more! At the end of the tour, I personalized the people that went on the entire tour into a drawing.

1-omar 1-carolyn

1-adley  1-heather

1-kristina 1-maiesha

1-matt  1-molly

1-nate  1-nikki

We all had large bicycles making it possible to pull anywhere between 100-180 pounds. What is so challenging about bike touring? It forces you to slow down. If you need to ride 45 miles (which would normally take an average cyclist 5 hours to bike) in a group, it takes three times that amount. So you are slower, there is no destination because if you focused on that you would constantly be stressed and worried about getting there. In this specific community you had to let go and enjoy. Swim, eat, talk, play music, and let things go with the flow. Sound easy? It was life changing, but with all that down time and time on a bicycle makes for some great reflection and inner work. I love cycling alone, but with other people its immensely powerful. I think its something that everyone could benefit from. You have to be strong physically but even more important, mentally. Balanced and rationale and put the group first.

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Here you can see the humans pedaling/making the electricity for the music. The bicycles have individual generators on the back wheel that are connected to a utility box designed by Rock the Bike in Oakland. From the utility box you have output to the speakers and microphones. Pretty incredible!

The tour was incredible. Bike tour is so much more than cycling especially with the power of community and riding with a large group of friends with similar values and mission. Below are the group agreements created by the 2016 Pleasant Revolution west coast tour:

  • Slow is beautiful- take a breath, slow down, and pedal
  • Leave no trace.  Become a steward of the earth-  pack it in pack it out, clean up after others, dig a hole when you poo, gather wood in a considerate manner.
  • Be an active guest- consolidate your belongings, do a chore, cook a meal, give a gift.  Make your impact on someone’s space neutral or better then when you came.
  • We offer the highest musical and performance content.
  • To change the world, we must change our own consciousness and lifestyle, the bicycle liberates
  • Use music and performance as a political platform whenever possible.
  • We work to uplift the feminine in all of us to move beyond the patriarchs well as the binary to create balance in our group and ultimately in society.  We work to embody nurturing, supportive, loving energy among us.
  •  We respect act in the highest regard for the webs of all life.
  • We operate on modified consensus- everyone’s voice matters and we won’t move forward on a decision if some has a strong block, however if one is willing to stand aside even if the decision being made is not their preference the group will move forward with the decision.
  • Hold a culture which allows folks to speak any discomforts and work to address it right away
  • We work to educate and inspire the communities we travel through on fossil fuel alternatives.  We work to be a living example of sustainable living.
  • Everyone should strive for direct heart centered communication.  We should address conflict on a person to person basis, if the group needs to be called in we will facilitate that.  Take it to the source.
  • Everyone should be emotionally responsible for themselves, able to employ de-escalation skills on themselves when necessary.  
  • This is a Group lead tour- every person is a working part and doing their part. This is truly living interdependence.  We all have the opportunity to lead and be led.
  • We work to uplift everyone’s strength while also challenging growth in each individual.
  • Always do your best and have fun!

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    Here is the extra cycle Novara bicycle I rode for the tour. You can see the frame is extended backwards making the bicycle into a cargo bicycle. Her name is Gunther! Can you find the stilts?

We are talking about a 2018 6 month Europe tour that we already have a solid group of 20 cyclists for and I am already planning on making some murals for the tour and getting funding to make community art projects happen. Why do we start planning something almost 2 years away? We need funding, sponsorship, grants and more. It is  great timing for booking festivals and for planning out the route and logistics. I look forward to it.

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Santa Rosa to the bay

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We made it back home! Can you believe it? All the way from Seattle to Bellingham, Vancouver, Salt Spring, Victoria, Port Angeles, Port Townsend, Whidbey Island, Bainbridge Island, Seattle again, Olympia, Portland, Euegne, Brownsville, Coos Bay, Florence, Fort Bragg, Jenner, Santa Rosa, Sebastapol, and Oakland! 

 

The last couple of days were wonderful, annoying the last moments. We ended up staying at a geodesic dome in Sebastopol with a pool for Nates birthday. We had a beautiful brunch in the morning to celebrate and rode a couple miles to our Petaluma to play our Farmers Market show.

 

The show was incredible, we were overwhelmed with all of the food that we were gifted to the crew and we loved playing!

 

On our way home, we were lucky enough to go by Yuba bicycles headquarters in Petaluma and get a tour and talk to the people that work there. We test rode some bicycles. Two of our 10 extra cycles were from Yuba so we were happy to provide feedback and hang out with them.

 

For the final 20 miles we decided to take a ferry into San Francisco. We were able to fit all of our bicycles and it was my first time getting into San Francisco that way. We were all so excited to see the city and it felt so weird to see that familiar city skyline. It had not really sunk in until that moment for me. We are home. My bed is close by. We are not sleeping in tents anymore! It was a very strange feeling I can not quite describe it.

  

BUT! Our shows were still not over, we had two more to play and decided to stay together as a group at night to not end the energy or disperse. We played a Friday night gig at Oakland’s art walk called “First Fridays” and we had a 10 bicycle system instead of our typical 4. There was also a huge double decker bicycle called “El Arbol” or “The Tree” that lights up and is also a generator bicycle as well. It was a beautiful show and we had an incredible turn out.

  

The second and final show that we had was at PLACE for sustainability where we had all the acts of the tour play, and I even got to sing a song. It was a blast and we spent the night all together to keep the tour going! The next day, it was hard to part and felt very odd. I still can feel the feeling but not quite put it into words. Pedaling away from everyone after almost 3 months of being together anywhere from 10-2o people at one time. We really loved the tour, hanging out with each other all the time and playing music with one another. We are even talking about riding 6 months and playing shows in Europe 2018 summer and there are still more plans in the work for the future of the tour! Thanks for reading and following. This tour has been a blast BUT there is more to come so stay tuned.

Oregon Coast on the 1 – Florence to Jenner

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We rode the next couple of days after Eugene through hot hot hot heat. It got up to almost 105 degrees and we would just soak our shirts in water to be able to withstand the heat. Thank goodness for swimming holes too! Champoeg State Park was the gorgeous location and still to this day, one of my favorite campsites. It is settled on the Willamette river and we had plenty of time for swimming and for hanging out. The hot heat really made the cold water enjoyable.

Inland Oregon has been difficult for us, because the cars are not as friendly or accepting of cyclists. For example, my friend Nate and I were riding side by side enjoying music and riding together as we always do. Then, out of nowhere, a large truck came by and let go of exhaust into our faces and there was such an intense plume of black thick smoke we immediately stopped in our tracks. It was such a aggressive way to approach us and certainly dangerous.

   

 It makes me sad that people feel that way about us and cowardly drive away without engaging or knowing us. There were also people around this area as well that would yell “Get a job” and once I even got spit on. I think that this is such a small population of people that feel this way. Don’t get me wrong, we get way more positive attention and applause but there are dark sides to sharing the road with everyone, and especially motorists. Many people feel like we are getting in their way and that we should not be able to use the roadways.  I disagree of course!

We saw these cute guys in Elk, California on the coast. I kind of fell in love! What a pair!

We were happy to finally arrive to the coast as it brought cooler temperature and different terrain. We loved seeing that coast, large boulder rocks coming out from the ocean. The sound of the waves, and the bright star lit sky! Incredible! Lots of camping, sharing food and riding. I found that people on the coast were more used to cyclists and more friendly. This also made me appreciate riding the inland Oregon route because not many cyclists do it. I bet you many motorists we passed had maybe never seen anything like 15 cyclists riding together. The ocean route is much more popular.

 

So the coast was incredible. I loved hearing the ocean and climbing hills, like hills we had never climbed before. We passed many tiny towns, art was prevalent in the towns we passed through. Lots of artist coops and collectives. We met so many nice people and had epic camping spots.

   

We were on the coast for about a week and a half and I loved it all. Defiantly a lot of hills and crazy climbing. Did I mention that we weighed our bicycles and they ranged from 140-180 pounds? Crazy!

  

Jenner to Santa Rosa

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Leaving the coast was a much needed break from hills and from the dew filled air. The coast has such a dramatically different feel than even 5-10 miles inland. Jenner was beautiful, we met a man that owned the community center, and he let us stay at it. Everyone in the town of a population 136 were so nice and welcoming. The town lays at the mouth of the Russian River and is on the Pacific Ocean. The state route highway 1 runs through it, as well as the 116.

 

Typically heading inland there are a lot of hills, but to our surprise we didn’t hit any! We passed through Gurneville and had a beautiful dip into the Russian River and had some lunch before hitting into Santa Rosa, wine country and lots of traffic and cars!

Santa Rosa was amazing, we got to stay with Carolyn’s brother, Sean. He had a house and he let us stay in his driveway with our tents. We played a show at the Santa Rosa farmers market. It was amazing, we had a lot o participation and her brother came as well. We did a little wine tasting, a lot of riding and the anticipation of arriving at home is at the forefront of our thoughts! We are really trying to enjoy every moment. Less than a week left!

Portland to Brownsville and Eugene!

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Thank you Portland for everything! We were happy to move on and experience Brownsville, the oldest town in Oregon which is where I had breakfast and a coffee with the Mayor. A city councilwoman showed me the art center as well. Apparently it is where they filmed Stand by me. A lot of people come from all around the world to celebrate it once a year in the summer time. It was a small and quaint town, above is the picture of Adley talking to the Mayor.

 

 

We rode through a trail for much of the ride. Went swimming in a cold river too!

We rode through Salem on the way to Eugene and found ourselves in the midst of a pokemon battle ground, or gym as the kids call it. We were laughing so hard at the game because it was the first time we had seen it in action, and the first time that some people in our crew actually knew how big the game was. This was a memorable moment!

Our first night in Eugene we played at Vanilla Jills which was a ice cream shop that had a venue in the backyard of the shop. We had a great turn out with tons of people dancing. It was epic!

 

 

We stayed at a cooperative in Eugene that was about a block long but all the houses did not have fences. Instead, they took down the fences and built homes, tiny houses and gardens. It was a flourishing community and we were so excited to stay there. Complete with a fish pond, treehouse and more! I feel so thankful I was able to stay there and meet such beautiful people, living out their dreams.

 

 

Our second show was Eugene was so much fun, playing at the park for the sunday street closures. Lots of people that supported bicycles. We stayed at a cooperative that hosted all 18 of us. We gained Sierra and Robyn during this time and Mike Cobb and Kelly came by too! The street closure was about 10 city blocks wide and there were so many families and people out enjoying the community. I guess they pick a different street each month of summer to be apart of the street closure. I say they pick some streets and do it year round! Amazing!

 

We had two big sponsorships come through in Eugene. The first was Nutcase helmets that donated a bunch of colorful and different style of helmets. The other was party in my pants which is reusable menstrual pads for women. All gear donated and we were so happy to be supported by them both! Thank you!

 

 

 

Olympia to Portland – 1 month stong

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Goodbye Olympia! We had three days to ride to Portland and took about 45 miles each day. We wanted to get into Portland for the weekend!

 

Olympia was really beautiful with a lot of rivers and trees!

 

 

 

Here is the group at the welcome oregon sign. There was an epic bridge that we cycled over and actually just a weekend after the famous Seattle to Portland ride so there were still sings on the ground welcoming riders and showing them the way.

   

Our first show we played at was for Velo Cult a brewery and bicycle shop. Yes, a bicycle shop with beer and a venue. It was the perfect setup for us, and quite hard for us as it was the first show we had inside. The sound was overwhelming but we learned a lot.

Our second show was at the sunday street closure for only bicycles and pedestrians! No cars and it was magical. I stilt walked and there were children that were learning how to stilt walk as well. It was amazing because they were staring at me with awe and loved my sparkle pants.

 

The third show we had was thanks to my friend Sarah Vitort who hooked us up with the Jade lounge. It exactly the show that we needed as the whole group came together and we tried some new songs. We even had one of the original pleasant revolution riders, Kipchoge come and play with us. Incredible night and I had another family member show up and stay the whole time! What wonderful surprise it was! I also got to see an old friend, Andy Vu. It was fun to see him again.

 

Portland was great, we spent about 4 days there and had a blast. Shout out to Mike Cobb and Kelly for hosting us at their home. It was a great place to call home and we enjoyed watching Mike fix bikes all day! Ah!