Projects > Operation Sweet Ride

A full-size candy-ized version of a Harley motorcycle in it's full resting state. Kick-stand down, handlebars and front wheel tilted slightly to the left. Cast in semi-transparent "Crystal Clear 207" urethane.

Now imagine these full size cast motorcycles in
cherry, grape, apple, watermelon and blue raspberry
Here is "Operation Sweet Ride" and all the articles that help make sense of it all.
First of all I want to tell you how much I appreciate your time in reading this.
I hope you like the story as it will be part of a book too.

I am just now getting ready to move on this as I have kept it under wraps for so long.
I need help in placing these so any clients coming from your end would help greatly.

This is "Operation Sweet Ride!"

I have included the image of my mom on the motorcycle from a family reunion. I thought you would get a kick out of that.
My updated full CV is included along with the list of collectors at the bottom.
We finished a Hydrocal cast to inform us if we had issues with undercuts and there were none. Thank goodness!
I have to tell ya once we popped the mold you could hear the cast plop loose and all at once it was there in front of me just as I imagined it would look. Wow!

I finally have permission to tell people about this project. It would be wonderful if you could drop it into a couple of conversations and feel free to forward this on to anyone you think would be interested.
This would be greatly appreciated.

The process of making "Operation Sweet Ride" took place Millersville in Lancaster County PA among the Amish.

Below is the story of "Operation Sweet Ride"
And it's not finished yet.

It is very interesting to me how organic this project has developed
and how I am tested to have to rely on the universe for the next piece
in this puzzle.
I will be doing a book about this project.

"Operation Sweet Ride"
Jon Coffelt

First of all, I started having motorcycle dreams. Motorcycles in rich,
semi-translucent, Jolly Rancher flavors/colors.

My dad had a motorcycle when I was a kid and I loved to go out on the bike with him. This was a very rare treat for me.

After having several of these dreams, I have concluded that they were possibly occurring because I had just recently stayed with my friend Lee Isaacs and he is very much into motorcycles as are all his close buddies. Both of us being artists, he totally gets me, even though we are very different in many respects. I think being around all that
machismo was what may have caused these dreams it. Maybe its that when I stay at Lee's, It's very interesting in the way the way Lee and his friends allow me to seamlessly hang out with them knowing that I am gay and yet including me in some inner sanctum boys club. Their total disregard to be being there in the midst of it all and the banter is so different from what I know them to be in real life. To them I am just a hangin buddy, a
friend. This makes me very happy.


Candy is something that doesn't usually ideally last for long.
Candy takes the idea of macho and totally candy-coats it so that it is no longer something that is offensive. Maybe this idea is what does it for me. In this way, candy can be a form of protection.
Candy is total fantasy gone awry when its outside of its limits like
in "Operation Sweet Ride."

In the 60's and 70's, as a society, we were all adolescents and acted as such. In the 80's and 90's we were in the "me" rationale and we acted that way.

Since the turn of the century, we have become a society of children.
We have our toys. Our toys define us and how we relate to one another. We discuss grown-up toys such as Computers, camcorders, 4-wheelers, speedboats, iPods and iPhones but the ultimate toy is still and always been our love of the motorcycle.

The motorcycle represents everything we are as a society. Its about freedom, movement, grace and dignity. It also signifies the idea of conquering something and the dangers therein. In the earlier years of America we picture a horse and it's rider conquering the west. Maybe, even the Pony
Express getting the news out to distant locales. Today we picture the motorcycle and it's rider still conquering.

Che Guevara of "The Motorcycle Diaries,"
Jack Kerouac of "The Beat Generation,"
"Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance," as well as,
James Dean, "Rebel Without a Cause."
Rebels, all, conquering all, changing the way we feel and think about ourselves and our passions even today.

The significance of the motorcycle persists today, even with all of our current technology. What power! What better way to rid yourself of the danger of the road than to have it introduced and available in candy flavors/colors as a work of art on a plinth.
Imagine it in a resting state with the kick-stand down and the handlebars and front wheel tilted a little to the left, teasing the
viewer of what it must feel like to be part of the scene.

At first I was reluctant to even do this project. The dreams just kept coming so I decided to write the dreams down and finally I asked for a sign and the first thing I saw the very next day as I stepped out of my
apartment in downtown Manhattan onto my sidewalk and I saw a Harley right in front of me. It was chained to the No Parking sign on my one-way street.

Next, my cousin Billie called me and told me to watch out for the family reunion invitation. she wanted me to call her once I received it in the mail. She said I would find it very interesting. A couple of days later when it did arrive, the card had a picture of my mother on my cousin, Davy's Harley.

I started seeing Harleys all over the place. They didn't just appear out of no where but even before this project, a Harley always turned my head so I know it wasn't something I made up.
All of these Harleys downtown, which I had never experienced before, was something else. I have always been keenly aware of the occasional motorcycle as it is some by-gone thrill to me.

I knew with all of these Harley that these were my signs and it was time to do something about my dreams.

I decided to call my friend Jim Mitchell who designs store displays because I knew he would have someone I could talk to about this. He gave me the number of Roger Bargainer, who was the chief engineer
on my Miami project. I asked him if he knew a way to have a full-size motorcycle cast and he told me about this friend of his, Kevin Brady who specializes in large delicate castings. I asked Roger if he would ask Kevin if he would be interested in working with me, since Kevin didn't know me and I felt more comfortable if a friend asked. So Roger called and a couple of days later Kevin called me back and asked what I had in mind. I began telling him about my dreams and that I wanted to make casts of a full-sized motorcycle.
He kinda laughed and coughed at the same time. He asked me if I believed in Karma and serendipity because just that very morning, his buddy, who owns a motorcycle dealership just down the street from him, asked Kevin if he would do him a favor by
keeping a Harley motorcycle out back at his place because he had this client coming in to buy a Harley and that it would be easier for his client and easier on himself if he didn't have two identical Harley's making it difficult for his customer to choose from. Kevin agreed. Kevin told me that in his eight years at this location that this was the first time this had ever happened and thats why Kevin had laughed and coughed at my opening statement.

Kevin says to me, "Well Mr. Coffelt, any other time, I would tell you that I would need a motorcycle handy to take measurements from but since have one here in front of me let me take my tape-measure out back and measure it while we're on the phone."

Needless to say, I was totally taken aback but I knew there was something to this.

So, after talking with Kevin more and more about this project, I knew Kevin would know who else I needed for my project. Kelly Farrell would be just the person to help me accomplish my goal.

We talked about ventilation systems and the other equipment issues that we needed to work in polyurethane resins. We talked about using a real motorcycle, processing it with shrink-wraps, styro-foams, plastics and wax to give the appearance of a large hunk of

My project was coming together more and more and I knew with Kevin and Kelly on board that this would be the best way to proceed with my plan.

I consulted with several trusted people on this project including
David Moos of "AGO" (Art Gallery Of Ontario) in Toronto Canada , Anne
Arrasmith of "Space One Eleven" in Birmingham, Alabama and Lee Woehle
of "Barber Motor-sports Museum" in Birmingham, Alabama along with
Marcia Wood of "Marcia Wood Gallery" in Atlanta and Mary Murdock Smith
of Birmingham, Alabama..
I received so much valuable information concerning market structure, edition information and economics concerning this project and I was also allowed to vent concerns regarding this project and why I have accepted this as something that is doable for me in my current work situation as it relates back to my earliest work in sculpture. I made chairs out of small diameter wooden dowels producing chairs one could not sit in. I fashioned lamps out of PVC that no one could see
with. I even painted bundled newspapers rendering them illegible so no one
could read them. At this point I had picked up this same methodology again after so many years and it seems so natural and
consistent to utilize my ideas and ironic gestures of commonly known objects and
turning them on their ear. Recently, I accomplished a series of
hand-made wallets out of duct-tape and also, worked on a series of duct-tape collage pieces, again in an ironic way subverting duct-tape as an art medium. As you can see, throughout my career. I have always used this sense of irony but instead of working with banal objects, that I did in the past, this time around I needed to work with objects that have specific iconic meanings to mass culture and to play with the very essence of these meanings and how they will be interpreted in another medium.

All of this information and support has allowed me to see that it is very important for me to make motorcycles that are
unrideable at this time.

I decided that I needed to make the pieces in a semi-transparent polyurethane resin.

Polyurethane resins are inert once it goes through a chemical cooking process that makes the resin solid it is not easily damaged. In fact,even water and direct sunlight do not effect these resins. Pieces made of polyurethane resin can be placed in outside settings with no ill effects. It can also be colored and tinted to produce the candy effect that I need for this project.

We decided that we would meet and make the mold at Kelly's studio but after seeing that we needed more space we were scratching our heads trying to figure out something. Kelly was out at a Lancaster bar having a couple of beers when a friend of his came up and started talking to him. Kelly mentioned our project to him and he told Kelly that he had a studio that was large enough for us to use so Steve became part of the project. Kelly called me late that night telling me about Steve and the studio connection. When we went there to discuss how we would make the mold the place was perfect.

This same studio is creating the mold and casting the pieces for me. They are allowing me to cast the additional pieces cast upon request. This is unusual for a studio to offer this opportunity. The Steve Wales Studio in Lancaster City, Pennsylvania has all of the
equipment and space needed to accomplish this project. The studio has agreed to store pieces if I want to do a few ahead. Steve Wales came on board with Kevin and Kelly.

We spent much concentrated time on "Operation Sweet Ride" the first
week of August with Kevin coming up from Tampa, Me coming down from
NYC and Kelly from York meeting us at Steve's studio for some 14 hour
days. The days were hard work but good to be with guys who wanted this as much as I did. Kevin, Kelly and Steve had worked together right out of college and each had worked with the other but not all three
together until now Quite a few years had passed since they got to spend time like this together. This project had taken a life of its
own and we were just going with the flow. Good times and recollections, old memories and songs permeated the air. Time was
shelved and we gave into yesteryear. We began to understand what time was really about. What knowledge we had stored and
what stories we could share. Experience and renewal were the things that were important. "We ain't makin watches" was a quote that Kevin wrote on a board in the studio.

Now here we are.


"Operation Sweet Ride" will be a limited edition of no more than 3
pieces each of the 5 original Jolly Rancher flavor/colors with one
artist proof of each.

I am more than aware that the first few casts should be selectively placed with collectors.

In accomplishing placement in this manner, the cache for this work will increase allowing me to do more casting work like this in the future.

I spent most of a year forming this plan and we have just now completed the third phase.

Studio work for "Operation Sweet Ride" starts very soon.

Please Note* I will also be working on an artists book concerning this
project. The book will include all of the people who have helped make this happen with me.

***If this excites you and you have interest in being a part of "Operation Sweet Ride" please contact me.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Jolly Rancher Watermelon
Jolly Rancher Watermelon