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Carye ByeCarye Bye
By Marisa Howard
While other vendors waited in a line of cars to pack up their booths after Crafty Wonderland, a Portland art and craft show, Carye Bye whizzed into the Convention Center on her bike. She rode right up to her stand and loaded all of her work, supplies and displays into her trailer, including folding tables and chairs, and was on her way before many had made it to the front of the line.
“I am an anomaly in the craft market,” said Bye. “I’m usually one of the only people who bike all their stuff to shows. I hope I can be a mentor to people who will then try it in the future. A lot of people don’t think it’s possible and won’t try it.”
Bye runs a fine art press using hand carved wood blocks and letter press type. Many of her designs are bike-inspired and Oregon-themed. “I’m a fine artist in a crafty market,” Bye said. “I’m not interested in gallery work. I like the idea that someone can mail my postcard, Bunny on a Bike, to their friend in New York. I like that I’m not stuck in frames on walls.”
Bye’s bike is one of her business tools, not only transporting her to shows but to make deliveries and pick up supplies. She also uses her bike for fun with friends, for vacations and for spreading the word about biking throughout Portland. But, she is the first to admit that she didn’t get to this point overnight and she certainly didn’t do it alone.
During her first years in Portland, Bye only used her bike to get around the North and Northeast Portland neighborhoods that she’s called home since moving here in 2001. She laughs when she recalls how she used to never ride downtown because it was much too far. It was a Pedalpalooza that finally got to her to make the switch.
“There were all these fun bike events happening downtown,” Bye recalled. “So I had to ride my bike in to take part after work.” In November of that same year, she made the transition to biking 100 percent of the time. She credits the Portland bike community – such as the Cycle Wild and Shift to Bikes groups – for helping her make the transition. Since then, Bye has embarked on multiple bike tours, pedaling the Northern California coast and even making a trip all the way to upper Idaho.
“I did not become the bicyclist that I am in my own bubble,” she said. “I learned it by watching others do it and realizing that ‘hey, I can do that’.”
Whether it’s using the press, leading fun bike rides, writing quirky travel books or directing the Bath Tub Art Museum, Bye has created a life that provides constant opportunities to combine two of her passions: making art and riding bikes.
“I have a million ideas and it’s nice to invite people to be part of my art,” Bye said in reference to the monthly bike rides she leads. “It’s kind of a performance art piece.” Bye’s rides provide a unique tour of Portland, visiting off-the-radar museums or tracking the history of neon signs, for example. She leads groups that range in size from 20 to 150 riders – the goal of these events is to have fun and spread the word about cycling.
“I got involved in Build It,” Bye said, when asked what aspect of cycling in Portland she’s excited about currently. “I feel my bike fun rides contribute to it. ... I want to do what I can, through organizing bike events, to get people on bikes, because it’s fun. It’s as simple as that.”