I really enjoy art when I have a personal connection to the subject matter or when there’s a story as to why it’s something we wanted to have in our home. We don’t have a lot of artwork because of that, but with the exception of four or five “decor” pieces that we purchased when we moved into the house just to cover the walls in a few rooms, there’s a story and reason behind everything else… and that makes it special to us. So, that brings us to our most recent acquisitions: a pair of David Uhl giclée prints.
Ever since seeing David Uhl’s giclée prints hanging in Harley-Davidson dealerships and on display during Daytona Beach Bike Week at Destination Daytona I’ve wanted to find one to hang in our home. If you’ve never heard of nor seen David Uhl’s work, here’s a composite collection of his work and, yes… Harley-Davidson motorcycles and women feature prominently in a lot of his work.
David Uhl began painting in the late 80’s and began painting Harley-Davidson’s well-before he established a formal relationship with Harley-Davidson in 2004. After establishing that relationship, Uhl began to release commemorative Harley-Davidson themed, limited edition pieces at Daytona’s Spring Bike Week and the Sturgis Rally each August. Savvy Uhl collectors watch for these releases as it’s the best way to get your hands on one of the giclée prints for a release price around $900 vs. the post rally asking price of $1250 which will continue to go up as the remaining prints are sold.
By the way, a giclée print is a museum-quality, laser-printed reproduction of an original piece of art. Uhl does his paintings in oil-based paints so the giclée prints — a french word for “little squirt” roughly pronounced ‘she clay’ — lack the three-dimensional character of the original, but otherwise capture all of the colors, shading, tones and feel of the original. A very high-quality printer is used to apply high-quality inks or dyes to an appropriate substrate. For oil paintings, the giclée prints use canvas to give them the correct texture and reflective qualities. Uhl’s canvas prints are stretched over a wooden frame just like the original oil painting and then mounted in a substantial frame with a small plaque that identifies the piece. Attached to the back is a certificate of authenticity and other information regarding the print.
In terms of how many of the Sturgis or Daytona commemorative prints will be made of a given release, it’s based on the total number of prints sold during the two motorcycle rallies — either in person the rally or by customers who see the piece on line an order it through his gallery before the last day of the rally — plus 12 additional prints that will be offered for sale after the rally: that’s it, that’s the size of the release. So, if you see a number like 325 on a commemorative Bike Week or Sturgis print, that means 313 were sold during the rally. The first two post-rally prints are then priced at $1,250, the next two at $1,850, the next two at $2,450 and so on, until the last one is offered for sale at $4,000.
OK, with that background on the art work of David Uhl, how did we come to acquire ours? Well, it began when two of the local Harley-Davidson stores — Southern Devil (formerly Cartersville Harley-Davidson) in Cartersville, Georgia and Hellbender (formerly Earl Small’s) Harley-Davidson in Marietta, Georgia, partnered with Operation Once Voice (O1V) to hold fund-raising events during October.
O1V was founded by Bill Stevens, a retired Duluth, Georgia Police and Gwinnett County, Georgia Firefighter. From their website, “O1V is a 100% volunteer organization with 97% of all dollars raised going directly to a critically wounded U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) members or the family of a fallen Special Operator. Their model is simple, SOCOM identifies a need and they fulfill it. It could be paying for moving a body, it might be equipment like a traction chair for a paralyzed soldier, a specialized bike for an amputee, a purple heart hunt etc.” In other words, and unlike for example the Wounded Warrior Project that uses donations to pay its executives hundreds of thousand of dollars a year in compensation, $97.oo of every $100.00 raised goes to a Special Operations Forces (SOF) soldier or their families. And, just to be clear, these are the military organizations that comprise our U.S. Special Operations Forces:
- United States Special Operations Command (SOCOM)
- U.S. Army Special Operations Command (USASOC)
- Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC)
- Naval Special Warfare Command (NAVSPECWARCOM)
- Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC)
- Marine Force Special Operations Command (MARSOC)
My personal connection to SOF comes through my work where I’ve spent half of my 33-year long career helping to build and support the aircraft that our SOCOM forces use to carry out their missions: the MC-130 Special Operations Forces (SOF) tankers, AC-130 Gunships and EC-130 Electronic Combat used by AFSOC, the HC-130 Combat Search & Rescue (CSAR) tankers and Sikorsky helicopters used by ACC/SOCOM and Pararescuemen (aka, PJs) to extract downed aircrews and stranded SOF forces from remote and hostile locations.
David Uhl apparently donates prints to events like this from time to time and donated two for this event. I learned of this when our friend Nick at Hellbender Harley-Davidson shared out a Facebook posting from their sister store, Southern Devil, about the paintings being auction off.
I wasn’t able to go to Southern Devil’s event, but had our friend Sharon check out the prints while she and several other friends were at the event. At the time she looked, there was just a single minimum bid on one of the prints. While I was tempted to have her put in a bid for me, I figured I’d wait until the prints were moved to Hellbender as it’s only five minutes from where I work.
I stopped in to finally see the prints in person on October 11th and saw where only that same minimum bid had been placed on “Love Triangle”, the 75th Daytona Bike Week commemorative print. Not a single bid had been offered on “Brittney” which is part of Uhl’s 18-year running “Women Of Harley-Davidson” collection. I used a 30% bump on the minimum bid for “Love Triangle” since that was the print that had caught my attention and had an immediate connection to me and Debbie.
Regular readers may recall that Debbie and I go to Daytona’s spring & fall bike weeks most every year and also attended the 75th in Daytona. However, a motorist ended our stay at the 75th a bit earlier than planned, sending Debbie to the ER and totaling our Road King CVO “Blue”. We felt extremely lucky that we weren’t more seriously injured and were able to get right back in the saddle and continue to visit Daytona for Bike Week where we love our walks on the beach each morning. “Love Triangle” captured our love of motorcycles, Daytona’s Beach and each other perfectly.
While I initially had only a passing appreciation for “Brittney” I finally realized which “Brittney” was featured in the work: Brittney Olson is an awesome, vintage motorcycle enthusiast and racer from Sioux City, South Dakota. As for the location in the print, the original photo was taken at Wildwood, New Jersey, in 2015 during The Race of Gentleman (TROG). Moreover, in doing my research on “Love Triangle” I discovered David Uhl took the photos he used for both “Love Triangle” and “Brittney” at the 2015 TROG. However when he did the painting David changed the setting for “Love Triangle” from Wildwood to Daytona Beach. So, now having seen the print in person and knowing much more about it and it’s shared history with “Love Triangle” I HAD to put in a bid for it as well; again, a bid that was a bit more than the minimum.
I spent the next day and a half bitting my nails waiting to hear if our bids had been topped. Well, to be honest, I asked Hellbender’s receptionist, Pat, to give me a call if someone placed a higher bid on either of the prints, as I’d definitely be willing to plus up my own bids a bit on both: after all, the proceeds were going to a fantastic cause and the prints were now becoming very personal to me.
I received an Email from Lauren in Marketing at Hellbender on Thursday afternoon letting us know that we’d been the high bidder on both of the silent auctions! We made arrangements to stop by the shop on Friday afternoon to present our check for the prints — which I plussed-up with an additional donation for O1V — and 15 minutes later the prints were back in their shipping boxes and tucked in our truck. Two hours later the prints were hung on the wall and looking right at home. Some things are just meant to be!
And yes, you can rest assured that we’ll be putting our names on David Uhl’s email list so that we can learn when new releases are available. I’m not sure we’ll ever find prints that have as deep of a personal connection to us as these two do, but you never know. After all, unless you’re an art dealer, the only reason to buy a piece of art is because you REALLY like it. We REALLY like these.