A "Cycleangelo" is placing more than 100 sculptures of bikes in Brooklyn and Manhattan to share his love of cycling and encourage New Yorkers to pedal more.
Gilberto Aceves Navarro, 83, a famed artist from Mexico City, is bringing his Las Bicicletas exhibit to 10 locations with help from the city's Transportation and Parks departments. The first set of bicycles debuted in Brooklyn yesterday at Jay and Sands streets and all 122 pieces will be installed by July 9.
Aceves Navarro praised the cycling culture in New York.
"I saw lots of people crossing the bridge, riding bicycles -- women, men, children, everybody," he added. "It is a wonderful sight."
But it is more than just a love for bicycling that led Aceves Navarro to create Las Bicicletas.
His son, Juan Aceves, 50, who helped bring the exhibit to New York City, said the artist's affection for them reaches far back, noting an anecdote his father recently recounted about their place in his art.
"When he had some heartache with a young girl, he started drawing his heart pedaling a bicycle going many places just as a way to deal with it," said his son, who works in advertising postproduction and lives in Scarborough, New York. "So bicycles have been involved in his life for a long time."
The idea to bring Las Bicicletas to the city -- his first public exhibition here -- started in 2010 when Aceves Navarro's rep contacted the Department of Transportation about the exhibit.
"We were really thrilled that it was a bike-themed exhibition," said Emily Colasacco, director of the DOT's art program. "It really ties into the mission of our agency to get people to ride their bikes and use alternative ... transportation."
DOT and the Parks Department worked with the artist for sites to install the sculptures.
"We want people to be able to go to all of the sites and enjoy all of the bicycles throughout the city," Colasacco said.