Barney: The Story Behind the Image



Motorcycle fanatics ride into Sturgis like a roaring thunderstorm sweeping across the South Dakota prairie, their bikes streaking down Main Street in bright flashes of metallic blue, candy apple red, sun yellow, and every other hue of the spectrum. For seven summer days, Sturgis is transformed from a quiet little town along I-90 into a loud, leather-bound Mecca for thousands of riders from all over the world; a place where rock music blasts from rooftop speakers, where custom choppers sit next stock Harleys, and where America’s eclectic splendor of personality is on full display.

Barney is one of those personalities. If he’s not walking up and down Main Street there’s a good chance you’ll see him sitting in front of Night Rider Jewelry with a cigar in hand. That’s where I first met and photographed him in 2012 while he enjoyed his 23rd rally surrounded by pretty women and a few gawking tourists. He was used to people taking pictures and told me he was sort of a ‘local’ celebrity when he came to town.

Since that time, his celebrity status has grown. Everyone recognizes him, wants a picture, and to say hi. It’s fun to watch. What I look forward to every year, however, is seeing Barney whom I now call my friend, lighting up a cigar or two and talking about his latest art project, how life has been, and just how much the place has changed as we watch people pass by.


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