Like most creative endeavors, it started with a sudden inspiration.Michael Wallace, a Canton resident who teaches eighth-grade science, “tricked himself into some exercise” one day when a light bulb sparked inside his head. He is an avid cyclist, and he wondered if he could make art on his bike by plotting his route on a map, riding the route with a GPS recording app keeping track and printing the resulting picture on high-quality paper.
It worked. Over the last two years, Wallace has created 75 designs and has about 10 ideas in various plotting stages.
At first, Wallace he rode around Canton spelling “Wally”, which is his nickname, and the names of his friends. Having done this, he realized he could also do some drawings.
He’s painted pictures of various designs with his bike, ranging from an airplane, a dinosaur, a kicker attempting a field goal and the New York City skyline. He also created a scene from the old Donkey Kong video game. That was a 21-mile, four-hour, epic round trip.
It’s a sight to see Wallace riding around creating his art because no one knows what he’s doing except himself. He said he frequently receives interesting looks while creating his GPS art.
“I’m really the only person who knows what I’m up to,” Wallace said. “So when I’m riding down a street, I stop, turn around, ride to the next block, stop, turn around. People walk around and look, wondering what is this guy up to? He’s got a map in his hand, the headset on.”But if only those folks saw his finished artworks—which they can, since he has pieces hanging up at Geckos, Mahaffey’s Pub, Baltimore Taphouse and Elliott’s Pour House.
This past summer, he created a website to upload images and share his ride journal, which records images he’s seen and neat facts he’s come across while riding around town.
On Nov. 7, everything began to change once CoolSiteOfTheDay.com featured his web page. His page views have skyrocketed and he’s been featured around the world on blogs, random newscasts and the television program “Right This Minute.”
When he came up with the idea he researched it to see if he was the first to try it. He wasn’t, but that hasn’t stopped him from continuing to create.
Wallace’s GPS pictures have appeared in two art shows, and he has plans to for a solo show.
One of the toughest rides he’s encountered is a piece called “Jellyfish Invasion,” which is a picture of a large jellyfish that appears to be engulfing Canton.
“That was a monster of a ride,” Wallace said. “To go down each tentacle and come back up the exact same direction was nerve-wracking, because if you made one wrong turn it was over.”
Well, no one said the life of an artist is a life of ease.
by Jason Butt