The life, career and legacy of motorcycle icon Willie G. Davidson will be honored through the Harley-Davidson Museum’s summer exhibit: Willie G. Davidson: Artist, Designer, Leader, Legend. The exhibit celebrates the artistry, influence and impact of a man whose designs have defined American motorcycles for generations. It opens June 13 and runs through Sept. 7, 2015.
Willie pursued his love of art and design from an early age and proved himself as a professional designer before becoming the first design director of Harley-Davidson in 1963. Over the course of the next five decades, he created a string of iconic designs that defined Harley-Davidson “factory custom” motorcycles. Throughout his life he has embodied a close-to-the-customer relationship, by attending motorcycle rallies, rides and races, that helped play a significant role in building the company into a global phenomenon.
“I wanted to combine my interest in art and design with my love for vehicles,” said Willie. “I was born with gasoline in my veins and crayons in my hands.”
Housed in the Museum’s Garage space, the exhibit displays a wide variety of pieces that Willie and his wife Nancy have collected over the years. From family and motorcycle memorabilia to a collection of antiques, Native American artifacts and American folk art, the things Willie surrounds himself with at home provide unique insights into his inspiration as a designer and artist.
Willie is also a skilled watercolor artist, and his artwork serves as a connective thread throughout the exhibit, from early drawings to dozens of recent watercolors highlighting his post-retirement creativity.
“It’s amazing to see not only my dad’s contribution to motorcycles honored through this exhibit but also his incredible artistic ability,” said Bill Davidson, vice president of the Harley-Davidson Museum. “I hope visitors enjoy following his personal and creative journey as much as I have.”
Visit h-dmuseum.com for event and ticket information.
Willie G. Davidson Exhibit Preview Bike Night
Thursday, June 11, 5–9 p.m. (Exhibit opens at 6 p.m.; Presentation at 6 p.m.)