The little kids out front on Saturday were taking advantage of Jan Maloff's Ken Rubin Memorial Neighborhood Bicycle Repair Unit, which offers all services for free and rolls through neighborhoods in an enormous, shiny gray rig emblazoned with a painting of Rubin and a list of project sponsors. Maloff started his bike mission with a winter holiday give-away of donated second-hand bikes, and now make bikes and bike maintenance available year-round. Maloff handed out 75 bikes on Saturday and promised his rig would return to the Westside in two weeks to pick up where they left off -- which was roughly 100 Westside bikes made ready for summer.
Maloff was one of three judges in Saturday's competition. The others were Kathleen Coffey of B.I.K.E. Syracuse and performer Carlos Alban, in town for the "Intrigulis" show at Redhouse, which had invited in neighborhood kids, teachers and Near Westside Initiative's board-members for Thursday's opening performance. The boyish Alban had asked to be involved with the community during his Syracuse visit.
The Westside Arts Council worked on this event -- its first -- for months, wanting most of all to craft an afternoon where all Westsiders could get together and celebrate the creativity of their young people, regardless of what affiliations they might have the rest of the week.
The arts council practices what it preaches, drawing membership from arts venues in the neighborhood like Redhouse, Delavan Center and Rick DeStito's Gear Factory as well as from agencies like the Wyoming Street P.E.A.C.E. (where the council meets monthly), Boys & Girls Club, Vincent House, Huntington Family Center, La Liga, SU's Near Westside Initiative, and others, plus welcoming involved neighborhood individuals like Carole Horan and Carlos Rivera, better known as DJ Koolie D, the rapper/deejay/bike enthusiast who co-chairs the council with Sameerah Aiken of the Boys and Girls Club.