New Public Sculpture Honors Hilton Head's Cycling Community: “Cycle” Sculpture to be Dedicated on Anniversary of Cyclist’s DeathAugust 08, 2018
When Jeff Garske, an avid Hilton Head cyclist and founding member of a USA Cycling-sanctioned competitive team, Hilton Head Cycling, was struck and killed by a drunk driver on the Cross Island Parkway on August 18, 2016, the local cycling community was in shock. Though they ’re ever cognizant of the dangers that come with their sport, it didn ’t lessen the pain when tragedy struck one of their own.
A week later, before Garske ’s memorial service, hundreds cyclists paid tribute to him by cycling from Honey Horn to Long Cove Club, where Garske ’s memorial service was held. Their goal was to honor Garske, mobilize the cycling community and highlight the importance of road safety for both cyclists and motor vehicles.
Over the past two years, family and friends of Jeff Garske have been working on other ways to honor him: Through a memorial fund established by Garske ’s cycling team, Hilton Head Cycling, they ’ve raised money to commission and dedicate a sculpture that will become part of the Town of Hilton Head Island ’s public art collection.
“This sculpture was designed to honor not only Dad, but the cycling community in our area, ” says Kallie Abreu Gonzalez, Garske ’s daughter. “Whether they ’re on the road, on the leisure paths or on trails, cyclists form a big family. They support each other and root for each other – we really saw that in the aftermath of the accident. ” Gonzalez says cyclists, even some they ’d never met, offered support and help. She believes the relationships formed through cycling strengthen community ties, improve health and benefit the environment. “It ’s a win-win for everybody to have a thriving cycling community, ” she asserts. “That community came together to raise money for this sculpture in the hope that it will remind people that cyclists are everywhere – to pass them like you love them, to watch out for them in
cross-walks, and for cyclists themselves to remember that we, too, should be aware of the rules of the road and of the cars out there, and be good stewards of the sport, just like Dad was. ”
The sculpture, called “Cycle, ” was created by Hilton Head artist Kevin Lawless. It ’s a larger-than-life sized silver aluminum road bike that will be parked on a concrete base. The Garske family worked closely with Lawless to come up with just the right emblematic piece.
“Because we wanted this piece to be more than just a memorial for Dad, we wanted it to really honor the cycling community and raise awareness, it was important to us that the cyclist portrayed be abstract so that it could represent every cyclist, ” Gonzalez says.
Once the piece was designed, a group of Jeff ’s friends worked with Community Foundation of the Lowcountry ’s Public Art Fund and the Town of Hilton Head Island to ensure the piece met all the criteria required for a permanently-installed sculpture on the island. This past April the concept for the piece was approved by Town Council and Lawless began work.
The piece is now complete and Garske ’s family and friends, along with the Community Foundation and the Town of Hilton Head Island, are holding a dedication on Saturday, August 18 at 5:30 p.m. at the southwest corner of Pope Avenue and South Forest Beach Drive. The public is invited.