This Saturday is the fourth annual Tour de Cluck, a celebration of backyard chickens and bicycles. If you had asked me five years ago — even two years ago — if I thought I’d be involved with the Tour de Cluck, I would have laughed.
I am not a chicken girl. I am only reluctantly a bike girl. But I am an art girl. And art is the connective tissue of the Tour de Cluck. That is why, when the Davis Art Center was asked if we wanted to partner with Yolo Farm to Fork by taking over the Tour de Cluck Art Auction this year, I enthusiastically said yes!
As a community art space, the Davis Art Center supports art in the community, brings art to the community and is a community of artists and enthusiasts itself. It is fitting that we be involved in a great community event like the Tour de Cluck. The Tour is quintessentially Davis — educational, a bit quirky, fun and creative. It supports an amazingly worthy organization, Yolo Farm to Fork. And it has always included art!
People go on the tour not just for the chickens, but also for the aesthetics of creative chicken coops. It’s about the art of keeping chickens. What may seem like an unlikely trio — bikes, chickens and art — turns out to be an amazingly complementary recipe: like dark chocolate, strawberries and black pepper (seriously delicious).
One of my goals at the Art Center is to make sure that we all recognize how art enhances our quality of life and how much it is already an integral (though often unrecognized) part of what we hold dear — like the Tour de Cluck. Art is everywhere in Davis, and yet we don’t think of Davis as an art town. It is a bike town and an ag town — that is why the Tour de Cluck resonates so deeply. Selling out a bicycle chicken coop tour is, well, just natural here.
But Davis is an art town! Just look at the progress of the mosaic bench on Third Street, the Shrem Museum at UC Davis and the campus-community Gateway project. These are awesome projects — they are physical manifestations of our collective artistic sensibilities. But what is underlying those projects is the character of Davis and the people who live here: collaborative, open-minded and diverse. Art fosters diversity of thought and action. It creates dialogue and the respectful expression of multiple perspectives. It expands our world view. Most importantly, art encourages human connections.
At the Art Center, we’ve been working all year on building strong partnerships, connections and community relationships. Come on down to Central Park this Saturday and see this collaborative spirit in action! You can partake of the Fowl Food Fair at the Farmers Market, hear local dignitaries try to out-do each other in the Community Clucking Contest, and check out the Tour de Cluck art exhibit and silent auction in a tent on the green, where we’ll have a plethora of unusual art objects with a growing, crowing and cycling theme on display. Bidding takes place from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., and all proceeds from the art auction benefit the Davis Art Center.
If you are participating in the bicycle coop crawl on Saturday (or even if you are just passing by), check out the Art Center’s Tour de Cluck Roost Stop, 1919 F St. From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., you can enjoy shaved ice and snacks from Stone Soup Catering and To Go, delicious espresso drinks from Common Grounds Coffee, kids’ activities led by the Acme Theatre Company and demonstrations on building chicken coops, including a mobile “green” coop, by DM Sheds.
In the meantime, stop by the beautiful new lobby of the Hallmark Inn, 110 F St., where several of the Tour de Cluck auction art works are currently hanging. Community members are also invited to the Tour de Cluck preview party at the Hallmark Inn courtyard patio at 7 p.m. Thursday, when the full Tour de Cluck art exhibit and silent auction, “Growing, Crowing and Cycling Things,” will be unveiled, and silent auction bidding begins.
So, please support Yolo Farm to Fork and the Davis Art Center by joining us for these fun and artful community activities — you may be inspired. My involvement in Tour de Cluck has even made this NYC transplant consider keeping chickens — and that is a serious expansion of my urban sensibilities — because of the human (and fowl) connections that I have made!
— Shelly Gilbride is director of special projects at the Davis Art Center. This column is published monthly.