Rides, Rallies and Events Recap

Sturgis 2005 - Beer Can Art by Jody Wyse

Written by  August 31, 2005

Visitors to the Sturgis Rally have an almost endless array of souvenir items to choose from. One popular selection is a can or six pack of Sturgis Beer. The artwork appearing on each can is the work of Jody Wyse, the retired manager of the Broken Spoke Saloon, who now sells his art through his business, Sturgis Artworks. I met Jody, a Sturgis resident, at the 2004 Easyriders Bike Show in Kansas City, and look forward to a visit with him each year during the rally. One of my Sturgis 2004 articles was a profile of the artist. This year, I stopped by his display in front of the Sidehack Saloon to talk about his latest work.

CC: Please talk about the 2005 Sturgis Beer can.
Jody: It’s the start of a series. I plan to tell the story of the Sturgis Rally through the artwork on the beer cans. There will be roughly an 8-year jump forward each year, so the story will make up a 12-pack if we live so long. The 2005 subject is Pappy Hoel, the man who started the rally. He’s pictured in front of his shop sitting on an Indian racing bike he sponsored. That seemed like a good place to start.

CC: Who was the rider of that bike?
Jody: It was Frank Weimer. His family still owns a café on Main Street. There’s a photo on the wall there showing Frank on the bike. The photo probably dates back to the late 1930’s. The photo that I worked from with Pappy on the bike was taken in 1937.

CC: Do you have ideas in mind now for the entire series?
Jody: Only roughly. Next year’s design will depict something from the war years. I’ll need to do some research to see what the Jackpine Gypsies were doing then and how the rally went during the war.

CC: What materials are available to facilitate your research?
Jody: : There are lots of books on the subject. Some of the local Gypsies have written books. The area newspapers have huge archives of articles and photographs. I spend hours and hours going through photos to find just the right one, and I sometimes mix elements from more than one photo. There are so many good ones, it’s hard to decide what to use. The war one will be tough to select, but it’s a good opportunity to honor veterans.

CC: We’ve talked about the art on the can. Tell me about the beer.
Jody: It’s a lager brewed for Sturgis Beer by Gluek Brewing Company in Cold Spring, Minnesota. The Sidehack Saloon is the home of Sturgis Beer, and both are owned by Rick Smith who hired me for the artwork.

CC: Do you think most people buy Sturgis Beer for souvenirs instead of to drink?
Jody: : It’s probably about 99%. Every once in a while someone comes in and wants to buy a cold one, so we keep some in the walk-in cooler here at the Side Hack, just in case.

CC: Have you gotten any complaints about the taste?
Jody: People are polite and say it’s not bad, but I know it’s just an average beer. It’s not on a level with Budweiser.

CC: I see you use the beer can design on other merchandise.
Jody: Each year we have the design available in prints of various sizes and on T-shirts.

CC: What’s going on with your other artistic pursuits?
Jody: I’m doing a lot of original stuff, quite a bit of western style and antique motorcycles. I’m also doing portrait work and T-shirt designs. I’ve already picked up four T-shirt designs to do for next year. A gentleman who makes ceramic floor tiles recently contacted me about doing a motorcycle drawing that would be about 20 squares big that could be used in the entryway of a home for example. We’re going to get together this winter and see what we can work out.

CC: How can people contact you?
Jody: My address is Sturgis Artworks, PO Box 714, Sturgis, S.D. 57785, and my phone is (605) 347-0220. They can also call Connie, my Sales Manager, at (605) 720-5288. Everyone is invited to visit my website.

CC: I would encourage them to do so. Thanks for taking time from your hectic Sturgis schedule to chat.

NOTE: The back of the beer can reads as follows: “Come ride with us and celebrate the 65th year of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. Treasure this year’s commemorative beer, featuring the one man who represents the long history and fine tradition of this world-famous event – Clarence “Pappy” Hoel. Drink to the man, the mystery, and the magnitude of the rally, created through a vision begun in 1938 by Pappy and the Jackpine Gypsies Motorcycle Club. Savor the rich journey from its humble beginnings of group rides, picnics, and field days to the extravaganza that is the rally now. Enjoy!”

Story and Photos by Stripe