The BMW Motorrad ‘Storied’ Series: The art of Christopher Myott

The BMW Motorrad Storied Series with Christopher Myott
Christopher Myott can’t quite recall when exactly he decided to turn art into a career—or if he even made the decision consciously. As far as he was concerned, being an artist was his only possible future.

Myott lives with his wife in a Civil War-era house that he bought when he moved back to the small mill town he grew up in—Jaffrey, set alongside the Contoocook River in Cheshire County, New Hampshire. It’s an old house, but that suits Myott just fine. As far as he’s concerned, the more worn out something is, the more of a story it has to tell. And that rings true not only for his home but also for his daily runner—an old, well-worn BMW R 75.

The BMW Motorrad Storied Series with Christopher Myott
“The artists that I looked up to, even when I was younger, were artists like Picasso, or Jackson Pollock working in his barn. I always loved that traditional romantic idea of just being a painter that works in my studio every day, and that’s how I make my living. The house sort of brought that dream to fruition, that romantic idea of being a painter.”

“I felt like I was surrounded by all of the very things that I’m inspired by. I filled my barn with a bunch of motorcycles, so I’m going out there painting and looking at the bikes every single day, and the tools that are just laying around on the ground.”

The BMW Motorrad Storied Series with Christopher Myott
Myott’s love for old things is evident in his paintings. Using a unique set of techniques developed through years of experimentation, he imbues his work with an aged quality. But it’s not just in the colors he uses or the brush strokes he deploys; his paintings are layered and textured, begging to be touched as much as looked at.

He has a knack for taking the mundane and making it fascinating. Some artists will paint a bonsai tree; Myott will paint it planted in an empty chainsaw oil can, with a vice grip placed next to it. A potted plant on a table? Sure—but add a vintage wrestling figurine to the scene.

The BMW Motorrad Storied Series with Christopher Myott
Myott’s work is whimsical, disarming even. He delights in knowing that his work demystifies the concept of fine art, and takes pleasure in hearing how different people read different messages in his paintings. And he’s happy to play fast and loose with his subject matter, jumping from paintings of baseball cards to still-life studies, guitar pedal boards, and fireworks.

Motorcycles are a recurring theme in Myott’s work, and even those can’t escape his enigmatic approach to still-life art. “With a motorcycle, there’s all these little elements that come together that make the bigger picture … and they can all be off a little bit,” he says.

The BMW Motorrad Storied Series with Christopher Myott
“And when the whole thing is done, it’s still recognizable as a motorcycle, even if the tires are a little bit crooked or the bike’s a little bit longer than it should be. It still works.”

“It’s hard to describe it, but that old metal, old paint, and mechanisms—that’s part of what’s so inspiring about them. And specifically BMW boxer engines. They’re just so iconic—from any angle, you can tell that it’s a BMW. There’s something about that that I’m drawn to, these moving components that sort of make a bigger thing run, and that the BMW has all of that on display. It’s the perfect bike for drawing.”

The BMW Motorrad Storied Series with Christopher Myott
Myott’s current ride is a BMW R 75—but his first BMW was an R 27. And, like everything else he’s surrounded himself with, it has quite a backstory.

“There’s a bicycle repair shop down the road that’s also an art store,” he explains. “And the couple who worked there actually gave me a scholarship when I was going into college. They paid for all of my painting supplies, they would just let me come into the shop and pick up whatever supplies I needed.

The BMW Motorrad Storied Series with Christopher Myott
“Later on, when I moved back to Jaffrey, I would still go there to buy all my paint supplies. And the guy who owned the shop was getting older and needed help cleaning out the basement of his shop because he was moving it to a different location. He asked me if I would help him, and he told me that he had an old motorcycle in there that if I clear it up, I can take.”

“I went down in there—there were no lights, it was flooded—and the bike was actually an old BMW R 27. So, I pulled that out of the basement, fixed it all up, and I drove it back over to his house once I finished it just to give it back to him and say, ‘Thank you, but no thank you’.”

The BMW Motorrad Storied Series with Christopher Myott
“I mean, it’s an R 27! I wasn’t sure if he really knew what he was giving me. And he was so happy that I offered it to him and that I got it fixed up that he was like, ‘I’ve got a bunch more BMWs that you can just have’.”

Myott walked away with two basket cases—an R 50 and an R 69. The intention was to fix them up, but, as so often is the way with bike projects, they just sat there. Eventually, Myott traded them for the R 75 that he still owns and rides today.

The BMW Motorrad Storied Series with Christopher Myott
He hasn’t forgotten the R 27, though. He can’t forget the R 27. He has a tattoo of its key on his neck, something he had done on a whim at a sketchy tattoo shop in Texas.

“I don’t know, I was always sort of looking for ways to codify the fact that I’m an artist—this is what I do,” he shrugs. “I don’t have to do anything else. And a tattoo on my neck is almost a guarantee that I won’t have to work a job that I don’t like.”

Storied: 100 Years of BMW Motorcycling is a three-part video series and limited edition print piece by The Simple Machine, created with support from BMW Motorrad USA. This is part two; read part one and part three

Video directed and edited by Roberto Serrini | Art by Christopher Myott