When I visited Recycle Bicycle in Harrisburg in 2019, I’d never seen so many bikes in one place before. At the time, they had a literal mountain of bikes piled in the middle of their warehouse on Atlas Street in Uptown Harrisburg.
That was in September 2019, and volunteers at the nonprofit were preparing to move the thousands of bicycles and equipment out of the building, which had recently been sold. Within a month, they found a new home on Chestnut Street in Allison Hill, returning them to the neighborhood the organization had worked out of for over 20 years before moving to Uptown.
Recycle Bicycle operated out of the Atlas Street warehouse for four years, providing free bikes to community members, teaching them how to repair them and to stay safe while riding.
While the crew packed up, longtime volunteer and board member Jenifer Donnelly climbed the ladder to a loft in the warehouse. Tucked among the tools, she found something familiar.
In 2015, Recycle Bicycle’s building became one of Sprocket Mural Works’ first canvasses in the city. A large mural was installed on the front of the brick building, covering the garage doors and windows with a whimsical scene of children and swirling purples and blues.
Up in the loft in 2019, Donnelly found the stencils that were used to create the work of art.
“That mural became a part of who we were,” she said. “It really was our identity.”
Donnelly kept the stencils, and volunteers pulled off a few panels from the mural as Recycle Bicycle packed up and rolled out, quite literally, headed to their new building in Allison Hill.
Recycle Bicycle settled into its new home, but the building was missing one thing.
In mid-July, I met up with Donnelly and other volunteers with Recycle Bicycle and Sprocket Mural Works as they cut out over 100 stencils for a new mural that would bring the bike shop full circle.
Artist Ralphie Seguinot was the quiet force behind the bright, bold painting on Recycle Bicycle’s Atlas Street mural and the reimagined new piece on Allison Hill.
The mural at Recycle Bicycle’s previous location was one of Seguinot’s first times creating such a large-scale work of art. He was inspired by the nonprofit’s mission of helping those in need in the community and, having two kids of his own, he connected with their priority of serving youth.
Seguinot took art classes in grade school, but never had any formal training. Inspired by famous street artist Banksy, Seguinot started teaching himself how to paint in 2013.
After the Recycle Bicycle mural, he worked with Sprocket to create a similar style mural, again featuring a child, on the side of the Sayford Market in Midtown Harrisburg.
During the pandemic, Seguinot admitted his art took a backseat. He was unmotivated and uninspired—until Sprocket asked him to paint yet another mural for Recycle Bicycle, where it had all started.
“I’m extremely appreciative that they’re willing to have me come back into their space,” he said. “I’m humbled that people enjoy what I’ve been doing.”
The new mural spans the front and sides of the bike shop in Allison Hill. The focus is on a child riding a bike, again with lots of color splashed on the background.
“I really like his art because of the way it makes people feel,” said Megan Caruso, Sprocket Mural Works’ co-founder. “I just find them to be really pure and colorful, and people respond to them.”
Caruso said that, while using stencils is a common form of street art, she didn’t know of any other artists who used stencils to create such large-scale murals.
Volunteer Trish Newdeck helped cut the stencils for the mural, which brought together two organizations that she loved. Through Newdeck’s son, who used to volunteer with Recycle Bicycle, she got to witness the work that they did in the community and fell in love with their mission. Newdeck also volunteered with Sprocket before, helping with the Jackson Hotel mural, which collapsed with the building in 2021, and painting a duck statue downtown.
“I really appreciate the work that both organizations are doing, so it was really a no-brainer,” she said.
The Recycle Bicycle mural is part of the 2021 Harrisburg Mural Festival, which also includes creating a pocket park in Midtown and painting murals to celebrate Black lives.
This project holds a special significance to Caruso, who loves the idea of working with another small nonprofit in Harrisburg.
“There’s a kinship because we are very similar,” Caruso said. “They’re bringing a lot of joy to the community. For us, it’s through art and, for them, it’s through bikes.”
Donnelly explained that Recycle Bicycle raised half of the funds for the mural project through donations from supporters. Having a mural on their new building was important to them and to their mission of creating a community space.
“When you do something like this to a building, it just brings all eyes to you,” she said. “It will seal our identity in the community.”
Caruso was happy to partner with an organization that was excited to display their artwork on their building and that recognized the impact that beautification has on neighborhoods.
“Hopefully, it’ll catch a lot of attention,” she said. “Part of their history from Atlas Street can move to their new home.”
To learn more about Recycle Bicycle Harrisburg, visit www.rbhburg.org.
For more information about Sprocket Mural Works, visit www.sprocketmuralworks.com.
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