During your next trip to neighborhood wine shop Gnarly Vines (350 Myrtle Avenue), you may notice the photographs adorning the walls, showing Japanese bicyclists with their rides — not on the track, but rather off-field, prepping their bikes, taking a rest, and doing other typically behind-the-scenes activities.
They’re an apt juxtaposition between the harried streets outside the shop doors both in Brooklyn and across the world in Kawasaki, just outside Tokyo, where they were taken — in one day — this past February by Fort Greene-based photographer Sam Polcer. Polcer has published a book of street-style portraits of cyclists (entitled New York Bike Style), runs a corresponding blog, PreferredMode.com, and has had his photographs featured in several exhibitions, but this is his first one in his home neighborhood.
“I’m a regular here at Gnarly Vines and my girlfriend used to work here, as well, so it was convenient to have my show in the neighborhood,” explained Polcer of his choice of location. “And these are photos of a recent trip to Japan, [so] I thought these would go well in a wine shop that sells sake.”
Of the subject matter, he notes that the shots were taken with the goal of reporting on and documenting the behind the scenes moments of riders hanging out and being on the track.
“In these particular photos, I hope they teach people about a subculture they might not have known about. Here, it shows s a gambling subculture where the Japanese are betting on races,” he explained. “There is a history of the sport following reconstruction after WWII [and the destruction caused by the atomic bombs]. Betting on horse races was one way to finance reconstruction.”
Polcer’s interest in bicycling came about years ago from his experience commuting to work in New York City. Having grown up on Roosevelt Island and then moving to Clinton Hill and now Fort Greene, bikes were a part of his life.
Now they’re even more a part of his life, between his day job at Bike New York and freelance editorial assignments, “shooting similar photo essays to this one that [examines] subcultures in the world.”
Next up? “Maybe Bogota [in Colombia] for their Ciclovia event, or Copenhagen [in Denmark].”