Photos: UCSC tanks artwork

Art documents time for mountain bikers that pass by the UC tanks

Travel

In this season of transition, we give you UC Tank art that ushers in the new creative while paying homage to the old. The trusty dog is there to shepherd the transformation.

Update: Oct 23, 2018

Fall is here and the UCSC tank art is slowly getting transformed into a new design. The dog showed up last week thus hinting that change is near and the transformation started before the weekend.

We are particularly fond of this one since it blends the previous masterpiece perfectly with art that speaks of transformation. We’re happy if it stayed in this state through the winter but we know that there’s no predicting whether this will stay in this state for days or months.

So get out there to those trails and witness this phase of the tank art regeneration.

Jeremiah Kille – August 2018

Update: Aug 17, 2018

WOAH! Some established artists have taken over the UC tanks and the work has been breathtaking. The latest is by artist Jeremiah Kille, a mural artist specializing in geometric shapes. The art appeared on August 15 and riders have been compelled to stop their rad rides and take it in. Other works of Jeremiah can be seen here on his instagram.

A new trend now though is the short duration of the art and abrupt changeover. Some art lasts only a week and before the tanks are blanked out and changed forever. So one must get out there often to experience it first hand.

This one with birds and donut was a gem.


The donut became a transition point for this art by an artist known for this bird theme. It transitioned very well with the donut tank. Sadly this art was gone after a couple weeks and very few got to see it in person.

July 16 saw the appearance of the very popular donut

This was a popular one not only because of the vibrant colors but because of that donut. I mean how can you feel gloomy after seeing that art?

The latest art features a cohesive landscape with water, land and sky

The latest art features a cohesive landscape with water, land and sky

Update: Aug 17, 2017

We are excited to present the latest UCSC tank art born on Sept 13. This is a throwback to the good old days when the tanks stood for art, devoid of any social and political statements. This new creation simply celebrates creativity. Each tank art can stand on its own and create a strong visual statement. But together, it is a more powerful entity.

This one too will be pass and be covered eventually so enjoy it while you can.

This transitional art shows the right tank evolving.

This transitional art shows the right tank evolving.

August 2017 shows the right tank evolving and a little bit of modification on the breast art. It’s a bit of jumbled mess which is part of the life cycle of the UC tank art.

June 13, 2017

June update featured this artwork inspired by a breast cancer patient.

Update: June 13, 2017

There has been a bit of a drought lately with a lack of art and more of a student-run social and political commentary. This latest one is bit interesting and controversial. We hope to see more updates in the near future instead of the current 6-month cycles.

Nov, 2014

Update: Nov. 10, 2014

The tanks of UC Santa Cruz have been updated in November and this new art is some of the best work in years. Anchored by monochrome patterns, each of the four tanks stands as its own entity, but all together it’s a great body of work. There are a few objects and messages embedded in, so one can stare at this art for a while, while taking a break from a day of bike shredding.

On one hand, it would be good to talk to the artist and get an explanation of the art. But on the other hand, it’s good to not know anything as well and just interpret it as we see it. Either way, this art is fleeting, so get out there if you can, as we know that change is as inevitable as the Santa Cruz beach tide.

Click HERE and start your journey into the evolution of the UC Santa Cruz Tank art.

October 2012 UC Santa Cruz Tanks

October 2012 UC Santa Cruz Tanks. Clean canvases. Photo by Michele Lamelin

To many mountain bikers who ride in Santa Cruz, there is a familiar and welcome sight on the trails as one rides by the U-Conn fire road connecting the Emma McCrary trail and Wilder State Park. These are the four tanks of University of California, Santa Cruz and they are always adorned with art or ‘graffiti’. Some creative souls, most likely UC Santa Cruz students, paint these tanks with beautiful art that cycle through every few months.

The usual pattern is the four tanks will display a theme of art that blend together nicely. Then after a couple of months, one of the tanks will get repainted. A few more months pass and the next ones transform to create a new set of tank art. Once in a while, all the tanks get blanked out and the art gets a fresh start with a completely new theme.

A couple of years back, there seemed to be a transition to promote social and environmental causes on the tanks. Words and messages were introduced in to the art and although attractive, it seemed to detract from the true essence of the tanks, which is to create something beautiful on a blank canvas in one of the best places in the area. But that may be just the ebb and flow of the tanks and we hope it goes back to its more free flowing graffiti roots.

Who paints these tanks?

They are most likely students or alumni of UC Santa Cruz. Here’s a photo of them in action.

January 2014 Upper Tanks UC Santa Cruz

January 2014 Upper Tanks UC Santa Cruz.

Two sets of tanks

One thing worth noting is there are two sets of tanks. One is the set of four tanks in the open area and these are really the main tanks that everyone photographs and talks about. There is another set of tanks called the Upper Tanks. They are just up the trail and there are two rows of them, but in a more wooded area.

A calendar of riding

One of the greatest features of the tanks is they seem to document time for the mountain bikers that pass through them. Riders seem to remember their time here by the art they see and capture on these tanks. Since the art seems to change like clockwork, we’re able to ‘calendar’ a photo by just the tank art displayed in the photos.

Enjoy the collection displayed here. Please contribute new and unique photos and let us know the month and year your photos were taken. Start your photo tour HERE or view the pages below.

April 2000 UC Santa Cruz Tanks

April 2000 UC Santa Cruz Tanks. With wheelie man Ryan. Photo by Mark Davidson

February 2002 UC Santa Cruz Tanks

February 2002 UC Santa Cruz Tanks.

May 2003 UC Santa Cruz Tanks

May 2003 UC Santa Cruz Tanks. Photo by Mark Woodhead

May 2003 UC Santa Cruz Tanks

May 2003 UC Santa Cruz Tanks. Contemplating the words. Photo by Mark Woodhead

August 2004 UC Santa Cruz Tanks

August 2004 UC Santa Cruz Tanks. Photo by Joe Carpenter

January 2005 UC Santa Cruz Tanks

January 2005 UC Santa Cruz Tanks. Photo by Brian Cherry

October 2006 UC Santa Cruz Tanks

October 2006 UC Santa Cruz Tanks.

Summer 2006 UC Santa Cruz Tanks

Summer 2007 UC Santa Cruz Tanks. Photo by Mark Davidson

November 2006 UC Santa Cruz Tanks

November 2006 UC Santa Cruz Tanks.

January 2007 UC Santa Cruz Tanks

January 2007 UC Santa Cruz Tanks. Photo by A. Lemos

February 2007 UC Santa Cruz Tanks

February 2007 UC Santa Cruz Tanks.

June 2007 UC Santa Cruz Tanks

June 2007 UC Santa Cruz Tanks. Moon triptych. Photo by Mark Davidson

October 2007 UC Santa Cruz Tanks

October 2007 UC Santa Cruz Tanks. Photo by Mark Davidson

December 2007 UC Santa Cruz Tanks

December 2007 UC Santa Cruz Tanks. Photo by Steve Cooper

December 2007 UC Santa Cruz Tanks

December 2007 UC Santa Cruz Tanks. Photo by Steve Cooper

Continue to Page 2 for more of the UC Santa Cruz Tanks collection and full photo gallery »
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About the author: Francis Cebedo

The founder of mtbr and roadbikereview, Francis Cebedo believes that every cyclist has a lot to teach and a lot to learn. "Our websites are communal hubs for sharing cycling experiences, trading adventure stories, and passing along product information and opinions." Francis' favorite bike is the last bike he rode, whether it's a dirt jumper, singlespeed, trail bike, lugged commuter or ultralight carbon road steed. Indeed, Francis loves cycling in all its forms and is happiest when infecting others with that same passion. Francis also believes that IPA will save America.


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