By Mike Morgan Special to Published Aug 22, 2018 at 6:01 PM

As the Harley-Davidson 115th anniversary celebration comes to town with all its parades, parties and pomp, there are some things that tend to fly under the distinct roar of those famous motorcycles.

One of those is a celebration of the life and work of the late Harley artist Mathew Hintz. The newest Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design (MIAD) exhibit, "Mathew Hintz: Spirit of the Open Road" is on view in the school’s Brooks Steven Gallery until Oct. 20. Admission is free and open to the public Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. There will also be a special opening reception on Thursday, Aug. 23 from 6 to 8 p.m.

If the stereotype of an artist is being excitable and egotistical, Mat Hintz defied it. He was authentic, laid-back and thoughtful – traits reflected in the depth of his work. His art is rooted in reality whether it’s a painting of a brand new Harley for a magazine cover, a portrait of a vintage bike owned by Willie G. Davidson or a print to raise money for a charity like the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

I was fortunate enough to work very closely with Mat at Harley for many years as he provided artistic touches and expertise to thousands of motorcycle images. Well beyond that, he designed logos and graphics for events, posters, merchandise, catalogs, owner’s manuals and even a few motorcycles.

Mat possessed a keen insight into the good and bad of the motorcycle culture. He would notice the most subtle characteristics or nuances on a bike, as well as those in motorcycle events or even a rider’s personality. That attention to detail is an essential part of Mat’s art and design legacy.

Most unfortunately, Mat unexpectedly passed away in December 2017, leaving a young family and countless friends in the Harley world and beyond. Works in this exhibition are for sale, with the proceeds going to help support his family.

So, whether you’re a Milwaukeean looking to get an impressionistic look at some Harley bikes or a visitor in town for the big anniversary, a stop by Mat’s alma mater MIAD for the "Spirit of the Open Road" exhibit will be worth the ride.

You can learn more about Mat, his art and his work on the Hintz Studios website.

Mike Morgan Special to

Mike Morgan rides retro, whether on his 1976 Harley Aermacchi 250 or Heritage Softail. Mike has been a motorcyclist since 2001 having ridden in Sturgis, Daytona Beach, the California coast, New England and everywhere in between, including in the last three Milwaukee Harley Anniversary parades.

Mike worked in communications and marketing at Harley-Davidson for more than 12 years, writing and editing all kinds of content, including award-winning media kids in 2009 and 2012. He had ridden the Harley several times before Brewer games at Miller Park, and ran in one of the last sausage races at the old County Stadium when he was Communications Manager for the Stadium District Board.