Copper in the Arts

July 2011

‘Copper’ Mike Cole’s Motorcycle Art on View in Bespoke

Copper Cycle Copper embellished motorbike

Photograph courtesy of P.J.S. Exhibitions

Artist, metallurgist, and fabricator Michael Cole has his much-admired, one-of-a-kind motorcycles on display in the exhibition Bespoke: Works by “Copper” Mike Cole, showing at P.J.S. Exhibitions gallery in New York City, through July 29.

Seeing the fine finishes such as hand-hammered copper, platinum leaf, and blown glass that cover Cole’s custom, luxury, high-performing motorcycles has a profound effect on viewers, including Lady Gaga. Gaga and her camp requested that Cole’s bike, Precious Metal (covered in platinum leaf, 14 karat gold, and his trademark copper,) accompany her on stage for the release of her new album, “Born This Way.”

“His bikes are pieces of art,” says P.J.S. owner Patrick Sullivan. “You discover new, exquisite details, finishes, and accents every time you walk around them. The rims are wrapped in leather! No one has ever wrapped rims in leather.” Nor has anyone ever gold leafed a motorcycle frame.

Michael Cole’s bikes have been featured in exhibitions in France and Monte Carlo, as well as in the windows of Atrium in Miami during Art Basel and The House of Savoia in New York. An icon of luxury craftsmanship, Cole was recently the spotlight on an episode of The Discovery Channel’s Two Wheel Thunder. The distinctive bobbers have also received honors at all major US motorcycle shows. They are defined as emblems of American style in the U.S. and in Europe.

Collectors have caught on to the talent that motorcycle aficionados have known about for years. “‘Copper Mike’ brings an artisanal quality to each of his one-off creations, which are finally getting the gallery backdrop they deserve,” says Ross Pantano, owner of Sin vitality drink and an original motorbike by Cole. “I knew I had the right builder who would create a beautiful, timeless, and functional work of art.”

In 2009, Renegade Magazine said, “Cole’s attention to detail is unlike anything else in contemporary motorcycle design.” 

With a father who worked in Manhattan’s garment district, Cole was encouraged to study pattern making at the Fashion Institute of Technology. Soon after, he was building showcases and displays for every high-end retailer, including Georgio Armani, Louis Vuitton, Stella McCartney, Carlos Mieli, Elizabeth Arden, and Estee Lauder. It was with these companies that Cole began to experiment with platinum and gold leaf and define a style that bridged vintage, contemporary, and handmade design.


P.J.S. Exhibitions, 238 W. 14th St., New York, NY, (212) 242-2427

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