With a heart full of adventure, Kayla Koeune grew up in small town Wisconsin, where she found a love for art at a very young age. Like most Wisconsin youth, she spent much of hers in taverns; only she was busy drawing the bar flies from a fort she constructed out of stools. Her passion to create never ceased and she earned her Bachelors in Fine Arts from Milwaukee Peck School of the Arts. Milwaukee also introduced her to the world of motorcycles and Kayla’s two passions weaved together and produced the art she shows today. Kayla founded Inferno Art Studio in 2012 where she works predominantly as a commission artist to exemplify her use of diverse subject matters and mediums. From oils to watercolor, to graphic art and design, enamels and mural work. Check out her website and give Kayla a follow on Facebook and Instagram.
After a few days of getting our feet when in India, it was time for our first day of the official Himalayan Heroes tour. This meant meeting the people we were going to be spending the next couple of weeks with. It's always nerve wrecking meeting random people that you are going to be with 24 hours a days for 2 weeks. What if they are jerks or boring or even worse what if they find you boring or weird. Up until this point we only had a few names and the countries that they hailed from. Glen, Phil, and Duncan were British and Jonny was a Kiwi. That's all we had to go on haha.
We did some quick introductions over breakfast and instead of resting Charlie and I decided to join them to sight see in Old Delhi. Although we had just done this tour the day before, we decided it was important to get to know these dudes. Plus we could possibly show them around. I liked them from the get go. Funny and chatty was just the perfect company to keep a light fun trip!
After some very confusing conversations with not enough common language to communicate we secured 2 Tuk tuks to give us a ride to the city center. The pictures do some justice but just imagine a vehicle suited for two adults only pack in an extra body to make it a truly entertaining experience. Once we got into the center of it all we decided that a rickshaw pedal tour was the way to go. And holy hell was it a gas. These guys had no fear as they pedaled there way into motorized traffic. Just pouring sweat in the mid day sun. I honestly felt bad for them. We are sitting back looking around as these guys are carting us around with fixed gear bicycles.... just crazy. They took us to many of the places I spoke of going in my last post only this time we decided to buy a bunch of spices and a few other small things. The craziest part of the day was that at one point we just had them stop on what seemed like the busiest intersection of town. Just blocking all lanes of traffic. In the middle of all the maddness here are these tourists taking pictures of the red fort without having to get out of the tuk tuks... hahaha what assholes... Horns going off all around us people yelling and shaking their fists and in the middle of it all us on carts snapping pictures. I honestly though we were just going to get hit ending our trip the minute it began. All this excitement worked us up an appetite and unfortunately without someone with us to make recommendations we were worried about getting sick so, embarrassingly we ate McDonalds. We all figured as we went on we would get more adventurous but none of us wanted to start the trip shitting ourselves. Upon return we all cooled off and did some max relaxation poolside. This is when Duncan started to teach us the sport of Cricket. He had his bat and had the hotel find him a ball. I think they came back with a tennis ball but alas it was enough to teach Charlie to hit. We would have sat out all night but the mosquitos started hunting us. Our guide Moti hurried us inside and we were confused until he explained the dangers or dengue fever in the region. That was enough for us to hear and in we went. Although I did spend the next few days terrified that one of those bites was going to lead to misery of dengue.
As our luck would have, and how it would continue on this trip, our plane was cancled and we would have to be up at 230am to bus it all the way to Manali. But that is a story for next time...
I would like to start off by saying me and dirt roads have never gotten along overly well. Somehow, I always seem to end up with the rubber not where it belongs, but like most things in my life if it causes me fear or anxiety I run straight toward it. So naturally I purchased an Africa Twin, a bike made for the off road. What I didnâ€™t purchase though was a set of off road tires, so you get some of the things you need like suspension and breaking power, but not max traction that you would want on a one land road covered in boulders.
Now to most adventure riders this road would seem rather basic but for me it was my first test of trust with amazing machine. At first the road was what I remembered it being, which was a gravel road leading to some hiking trails near Eldora, CO. Itâ€™s started getting rocky with some tight corners and what you would expect from a mountain road which was drop off on one side, hill on the other. There were several vehicles coming down so it got pretty tight trying to get around each other. Well I was chugging along strong keeping up to Charlie, Andrew, and Louise until it happened. I was coming up a steep inclineh into a blind corner. I wasnâ€™t concerned, I picked my line wide because of some giant rocks tight in the corner, but then a Jeep came hauling around the corner and I had 3 options. First -option fly off the cliff to my eminent doom; Second - barrel into the front of the Jeep the ideal path I was headed on the bike; or Third go over the large rocks I was trying to avoid on my road tires. Well I did what I was taught â€œwhen in doubt throttle outâ€, I hammered down and about half way over the large boulder I went down. The bike fell in quite an awkward position, as they always do, and I couldnt get on the side of the bike I needed to in order to pick it up by myself. It took 2 random people helping me to pick up the bike up and be on my way.
I road around a could more bends before I parked the bike to take a breather. Pickup up a bike in that condition is pretty exhausting. I sat for a few minutes when Charlie came barreling around the corner, checking to see what was taking me so long. He parked his BMW and pulled it out the kickstand to turn it around but being on the hill posed problematic and in a flash of an eye his GS1200 was now on its side. I was laughing till I realized I would have to help him pick his up. Shit I had just regained my strength. Well we got both bikes standing an oriented in the right direction and we were off with the words â€œthereâ€™s a pretty burley hill coming into camp so watch outâ€. Echoing in my head. When we got to camp Charlie anticipated I would Park it and have him ride it over, but I decided fuck it. Yolo. So I hammered it out and this time I made it over the obstacle to my objective!
It is interesting coming back to a place that is so full of energy and chaos. The last time I was in India I was 21 years old climbing trees and getting lost with and armed guard and a good friend. I'm a little older now but still full of the curiosity I had in early twenties. I try not to repeat myself but I came back for a couple of reasons. Charlie has never seen the Taj Mahal as well as it has been on his bucket list to ride bikes over the highest motorable pass in the world Khardung La. I'm not going to lie seeing the Taj Mahal a second time was just as awesome as the first time only better... Mainly because the first time I had heat stroke and barely knew what was going on around me. The other reason is the tea. Oh man do I love Indian tea. I don't really drink tea in the states, anyone who has been around me for a couple of hours knows if you touch my coffee Iâ€™ll take your hands, but in India there is only on drink for me and that is tea.
We did the first couple of days with a guide just to get our feet wet. We decided to tackle the markets in old Delhi. We did a 3 hour dime tour through a couple of temples and into the spice market. I am someone who absolutely loves to cook so going to this area was pretty exciting to all of my senses. The sound of the horns, the bright colors in contrast to the filthy streets provided some pretty impressive visual dynamic, the trickle of sweat down my neck to remind me of where we are on the globe, the taste of the tea, fried bread and curry, and of course the spices lighting up your sinuses like a magical wild fire. There is so much going on at once that you truly are overwhelmed. You can see people bathing in the street, cows mixed with brand new cars all on the same stretch and once you think you've seen it all something else completely random is around the next bend. Even if I were a good writer explaining in words all that is India would be near impossible.
The next day a hired car took us to Agra. Interesting enough their cars are starting to be governed at 80 KMH (about 40 mph to us on the other side of the pond). India is doing this to try to prevent there immense amount of traffic deaths as well as to try to curb their huge pollution problem. I mean with 1.35 Billion people how could there not be a pollution problem. Do the math that is 5x our population in an area that is 1/3 the size. Combine the population density with the "flow" of traffic and holy moly all you can say is incredible India. Any who, although the drive was mind numbly slow we arrived to Agra in about 4 hours. Our diver picked up our guide, on the side of the road, outside the Taj Mahal and in we went. This area is a pollution free zone so an electric shuttle brings you the monument. Females join their queue while the men joined theirs in order to be searched by the same gender, this throw me a little bit at first, but it is done out of respect.
Pass through the exterior arch and there she stands alone against the sky, the last building on earth. The Taj Mahal is a radiant jewel who earns her place as one of the 7 wonders of the world. She never looks real even as your feet glide across the marble and into the tomb. With millions of gems laid into the marble, the intricate floral carvings and the beautiful words of the Korin surrounding the walking paths. There is a lot of geometric visual illusions that make the Taj an amazing work of architectural artistry. The tomb is as incredible as the exterior, with shades carved from single sheets of marble. Every piece of the Taj Mahal was hand crafted prior to being placed on the exterior in a tongue and groove fashion. So what you are looking at is a thick, intricate marble veneer. I will say the only thing that took away from the experience is India people don't really wait in line and by that they push past, around and through you. To say there is a lot of people here is an understatement, everyone is hot and they just want to get where they are going. Once through to the other side you walk out to a view of the river, the fort, and are treated by the powerful mid-day sun glaring on all the marble. As we walked back to the shuttle I was overcome with the feeling of passing out. This place is cursed for me is all I could think haha. But with sheer will I made it out unscathed and upright.
We did a few other touristy things and made our way to the hotel to meet the people we would be spending the next few weeks with. It's a big deal to find out if 6 strangers will mesh well to spend that much time together on the road and we were about to find out our fate!
They always say if everything goes right there is no real story to tell. Our experience could have been we got on the plane, Got onto our connecting flight with a ton of leg room that we paid for, and were taken to our hotel in a timely fashion so we could enjoy our 3 day tour of the Golden Triangle. That was not the case...not at all...holy guacamole I wish I could say it was even close.
So Charlie and I did check into our flight with ease and we made it to Newark, now it was 45 minutes delayed in flight but not nearly delayed enough to miss our second flight. In fact we had time to enjoy Giant meatballs and Calamari before boarding the long leg of our journey. With ease we boarded and sat in our exit row with triple leg room and space to breath. Well there we sat... and we sat... and then we sat some more. The plane had a mechanical issue and they were trying to fix the system, I believe it was to get the in flight entertainment working. I had books and an iPad... screw it we don't need TVs... but for 3 hours we sat while they tried to fix the in flight entertainment. Finally they locked the doors and were preparing the cabin for take off!! Only moments after the announcement all the flight attendants disappeared. Well this cant be good I thought...aaaand it wasn't. The captain crackled over the intercom Ohhhh,,, weeeell ..... we didn't get our paperwork approved in time soooo now the flight crew is timed out.. soooo,,, aaahhhh you are going to have to get off the plane and customer service will try to get you on another flight. Well shit. We gathered our things and booked it to Gate 105 for assistance.
Luckily we got to the customer service desk before the rest of the plane figured out where to go but this was only a help for a little bit. Some Cultures don't really understand the concept of a line, which is essentially, first come first served and be patient. We saw so many people get angry and yelling at the people at the customer service desk but seriously what is the point, they didn't break the plane. Before we knew it people were just walking to the front and crowding the desks, so Charlie and I had to be aggressive if we were going to get out of that mess soon. It was already approaching midnight and the flight was supposed to take off at 950. Once we battled through the mass of wheelchairs and line hoppers to a representative things went amazing...or so we thought... She was super helpful. She gave us food vouchers, a hotel voucher and a taxi voucher. We changed airlines to get us flying to India the next day. She even booked us first class tickets for having to cancel our tour and hotel that we were going to use when we got to India. We left the airport disappointed but feeling good to be traveling in style the following day. Charlie and I crashed hard in the hotel and took full advantage of our late checkout.
The next morning we woke and took a shuttle back to the airport. We had lunch and made our way to the gate. We timidly walked down the Lufthansa 1st class passenger isle to check in, I mean we were told we had first class tickets. A couple people in the business class line starred at us with clear judgment all over there faces. We didn't need to hear what they were say we could feel the disdain of â€œhow could these two dirt bags be in this line? They didn't even try to hide that saw us as scum of the earth. Well feeling already embarrassed we walked up to the desk and handed the man our transfer vouchers. He looked up our names and very audibly stated "you are not first class you are in economy." I responded "we were told we had first class seats on this flight, we upgraded" he retorted "No, you are economy and need to go to the end of that line or get out of line and call united to have it fixed" well that blows.... As I turned the couple that were hard core judging just looked with the smirks of "I knew they couldn't be in that line." We were so embarrassed we didn't even bother calling United to have our Plus upgrades at least transferred, I just called them to have it refunded. Which they did promptly but hell that was a blow to our egos just a bit. So we took the walk of shame behind the 50 or so people that were already waiting in the steerage line.
So we get our tickets, the lady at the counter felt bad so we got an isle all to ourselves, to try and compensate. Completely not a surprise at this point, both of our bags got searched in security, and all we could do was laugh.
As we sat to wait to board the giant double decker, I went through my pack to find my sketchbook and doodle a little....only to find in our rush to get off the canceled flight I left my moleskine in the side pocket on the previous plane... epic fail. That old girl was half full of drawings and stories... My name and address are in it and we will see if she finds its way home. In a ditch effort Charlie found a $2 drawing pad to cheer me up and indeed the childish cover made me smile. The last 24 hours has been pretty entertaining and now I am in the air headed to Frankfurt for a layover followed by another flight... I wonder what the next 24 hours will bring... knock on wood...
It has been a few years since I have shown art at the Harley Museum so when I found out Heyltje Rose was going this year I jumped on the chance to share a booth with her. Our hand crafted motorcycle goods have a tendency to compliment each other rather well and, with the added bonus of seeing her face for a week, it made the prospect of the journey irresistible. So with quite a bit of preparation I loaded up the Art mobile and drove to Milwaukee to Hustle Art during the 115th Anniversary party.
A few things changed this time around. Firstly, the museum extended the hours of operation so we had to be present from 9-9. Pretty long days, which denied us the opportunity to visit friends, but at least we got to spend a lot of time together to catch up and developed some pretty stellar ideas. I would tell you about our magic brain children but sometimes the million dollar ideas needs to be kept secret. Haha...
Secondly and most importantly the level of professionalism in our display clearly stated that we had been doing some serious adulting over the past few years. We were so proud to show all the familiar faces a booth that no longer looked like a yard sale. I was truly honored by all the people that came to visit the art show made me remember why it was so hard to leave milwaukee in the first place. Honestly If it werenâ€™t for the weather I would still be there because the people are beyond amazing.
Thirdly the studio has been quite busy these days so I got to spend the week painting live and selling art. With India only a week after my return I really had to scramble to get a Biltwell Lane Splitter painted as well as an oil commission done prior to leaving. Jessi and I even found time to sign some books in between all the chaos.
Not only did I spend the days at the museum I did a little painting live at Rogues gallery, which was basically where I started my art career. I wish I could say I got to go out and see the Race of Gentlemen and enjoy the concerts and witness the take over of Brady street; but alas working 14 hour days had me just toasted. I mean it was pretty embarrassing because like and old lady I was in bed by 11 at the latest each night. This is just another example of my serious adulting I have been doing these days. I know painting while simultaneously talking to people all day doesnâ€™t sound like a big deal, but when you are used to being along in your studio, it takes a lot of energy to be a social bunny.
By the end of the event my head was spinning with conversation and even my amazing husband rode his 9th iron butt to get to town to visit. I can't imagine doing all this if I was still drinking, but somehow even in all of my sobriety, Heyltje and Charlie talked me into getting a Cupcake tattoo with a gold tooth and FTW written in the icing... so classy... how do I let these things happen!!! Like so many things these days it was over before it began. The hours made the event seem like one long day but the time I got to spend with Heyltje was pretty priceless. With far less art than I came with I loaded up the art mobile, turned her sails toward Colorado and moved on to the next adventure.
Ok ok so I am a little behind on the blog, but holy hell has it been a busy month. I really have been taking things one day at a time in stride so I don't get too overwhelmed. So, of coarse, instead of going through my checklist for our moto trip to India and making sure I have all the things packed I need, I am writing a bloggy blog about a motorcycle event before I forget what happened.
So this year like every year I made way too much pasta to feed some amazing dirty bikers. Why do I make the effort you ask? Well it all stemmed from a trip in Italy that really inspired me. People sitting down for a family dinner in the middle of nowhere to share their love of the open road. For me the love of travel, especially travel on two wheels, is about community or family. Charlie and I put this event together so we had an excuse to see all of our favorite people, feed them and share some stories in the woods.
We always have some activities and in the past we have done a ride, motohunt, and every year we do a movie night. Our movie this year was â€œeasy riderâ€ and I completely forgot how terrible this movie is after the first 20 minutes but I watched the whole thing... possibly the first time I ever sat through the whole movie in my life.. hahah...This year we brought out the motorcycle games and man was the participation throughd the roof. Everyone played and it was a real riot to watch. Chris and Heather from Cyclesource put on the games for us which probably would not have happened without them. We had the classics slow races, the greasy plank and ring toss. I have decided that I am going to do some practicing this year and give everyone a run for their money next year!!
We have some ideas for next year but please feel free to share your ideas. We are looking for a different venue so if you Coloradans have any ideas or any of you bars out there would like to host the event please let us know!! Cheers! KaylaInfernoArt #roadsareforjourneys
Just rounding the corner is the 1st Friday in Denver (6 July 2018). If you are unfamiliar with the first Friday let me enlighten you. 1 night a month all the galleries in Denver open there doors for an art walk. From Traditional to pop-up gallerys, art floods the streets giving you the perfect opportunity to adorn your walls with something unique and hand crafted. A far superior alternative to the time a dozen, mass produced, walmart special. What I am trying to get at is if you are out and about in the Sante Fe Art District add the Boxcar Gallery to your list of shows to see. This show features the art of motorcycle from artists all over the country and including yours truly. I will be showing 3 Original paintings featuring motorcycle adventure. There is also a vast selection of motorcycle photography that will be on display for your viewing pleasure!
Although I wasn't able to make it to the first showing, I will be there all night this time around with an assortment of prints. This will also be the last time you can catch me out an about for a few weeks due to military engagements so come say hi hang out and support the Denver Art Scene!
No matter where he is going my husband, Charlie, counts miles. I think this is reminiscent of his bicycle racing days or his addictive personality, but no matter where he picked it up, Charlie is always racking his brain about how many miles he has put under his belt. It is personal pride in the thing he loves which is an inspiring thing to watch for many of us. When he decided to enter the Peaks to Plains summer long mileage contest, where the winner received a motorcycle, I thought oh great... here we go just put the alcoholic right in the bar why don't ya!
He was concerned he wouldn't be able to do well considering we were getting married this summer and that combined with being out of the country for the honey moon would put him 3 weeks behind everyone, especially Louise. Louise and Charlie are one in the same and that's why I love them both. They both count miles, they both like to win, and they both entered the contest. Louise was his biggest concern right up to the end. They would text each other trying to get the other to spill the beans as to where their mileage was at. There was also a lot of social media stalking and often I would hear Charlie utter phrases like "Louise went to Whyoming that's at least 350 miles where she is round trip,, crap I'm headed to Kansas see you later!" The hilarious part, upon talking to her and her boyfriend Dan, is that they were having the same conversations at there house.
They knew that this is what the competition would come down to. Two friends and a little friendly competition. The rest of us would joke that there was a sleeper in the competition that was going to clock in with like 25k and blow them both out of the water. 3rd place went to this amazing guy who never rode a motorcycle before this summer. He entered the world of motorycycles hitting just over 9k miles. Drum roll ...... In second play came Louise, Ohio Dirt, with about 11.5k. Leaving first place to Harris Bigweather... hah the twist Charlie didn't even place.... Ok I kid... In first place with 13.2k Mr. Charles Weisel took the first play motorcycle. A brand new, barely functioning mini bike chopper with a springer front end! His next trip will be a coast to coast on a Mini Bike!
My hat goes off to you kids! Next summer I will have an odometer and access to sabotage Charlie's bikes, here comes some more competition your way!
It's always fun to bring a new challenge and goal into your work. The Motor Mural I painted in Loveland Colorado was the most fun I've had painting in a long time. Although this image was a commission and heavily influence by David Mann at the patrons request, it was a pleasure to be challenged to make art from a ladder. I have wanted to break into the mural world for some time now and have been working up to larger public works. I have done large scale paintings and a few installations murals but this was my 2nd true mural and I must admit I'm addicted. You spend most of your time designing the image on a screen in your studio knowing you will be making the image on scaffolding and ladders with limited amounts of time. The temperature is out of your control and once the painted is cracked you know you will be working around the clock in order to get it done in a timely fashion. When someone watches your process it can be nerve wracking because lets face it some of the stages of paint are not pretty and they freak people out, as well as focusing while others watch and strike up conversations. Doing live art in clubs for years helps block most things out but it's still a challenge I welcome. I learned so much about how to refine my process from doing this 5 foot by 5 foot mural and I am excited to take my new knowlege to a downtown Denver Cafe, where the image will be 12 feet by 14 feet. That lesson I learned is that scaffolding is necessary for patience, confort and energy to last the long hours in the air!
One of my favorite things to do in Colorado is overnight backpacking trips. The physical challange, the sense of accomplishment and the quiet relaxation are all food for the soul! On this occasion Charlie and I decided to take the Jasper Lake trail, just out side of Nederland, a place where many spectacular trails begin. The total trip length is a moderate 9 mile round trip with just under 2000 feet total elevation gain. In my opinion trails of this length are perfect for an overnight camping trip as you are able to get up to the top early enough to enjoy the quiet wilderness. The trail starts at the Hessie Trailhead and takes you though the Indian Peaks Wilderness with epic views of Mt Jasper, Mt Neva and Klondike Mountain in the distance. The ascent is pretty even most of the way up with only a few moderate switchbacks as you wind through meadows and dense woods. We went up this trail in June, this time of year you will need a permit and I have to admit we forgot to secure such permit. So we treked up the mountain knowing we may have to pay at minimum a fine of $100 but luckily we never ran into a ranger. I would not recommend doing this as I feel the only reason we didn't see more rangers is there was an unseasonable amount of snow still on the mountain. As we got nearer and nearer to the lake we got deeper and deeper in snow. In some parts the snow was as high as I am tall, but we continued and hoped there would be some clear areas near lake Jasper that would give us refuge. The right gear is paramount when you are staying overnight in altitude. We barely found a dry space, although our gear would have faired fine on snow, where we set up our Outdoor Research Alpine Bivy Sacks with Nemo Sonic 0 Bags and Sea to Summit mats slipped inside. At this point I'm pretty sure we have stock in REI, but having light gear that packs down small and keeps you warm and dry has changed camping and motorcycle travel for us. Not only is it effective it is quality made and with the warranties the gear will keep us happy for a long time. The sunset that evening was unreal with vibrant reds and oranges that mimiced its brilliance in the lake. We sat in awe sipping coffee from our camp chairs in near seclusion. This is the reason we do what we do and after taking it all in we drifted off to sleep early. We sleep early because then you can wake up in the middle of the night in order to take in the stars that are unreal when you are this close to them. Other than the dog having a midnight freak out (our first time camping with her without a tent) the night could not have been more perfect!