Biker Dad: Meet the woman behind some of Memphis' coolest motorc - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Biker Dad: Meet the woman behind some of Memphis' coolest motorcycles


More and more women are getting into motorcycles. They're not just riding them, but helping create them. That includes one great Memphis artist. Rose McKenzie is an artist at Leatherwood Motorcycle Works. Her work proves that building a motorcycle is as much artwork as motor work. She's the person who turns the machine into a masterpiece. 

"I’ve known Luke, the owner, since we were about 14. About a year ago we just started talking and thought it would be kinda cool if I did some of my weird kind of art on a motorcycle. So he taught me how to spray. I learned how to pinstripe. It just kinda happened," said Rose as she stood in front of her late father's chopper, which is kept in the shop where she now works. "I paint motorcycles, pinstripe, I do the overall color, airbrushing. I like to do really unusual artistic paint jobs. Fortunately, I’m in a place where they’ll let me do that."

Much of Rose's work is groundbreaking, and not just because she's a woman working in male-dominated business. "There are not a lot of females doing what I do. And, people usually have a strong reaction to that. There are a few doing it, and hopefully there will be more. It’s a different perspective that I think is refreshing."

Mobile users click here to view the slideshow.

One of her coolest projects is a bike that she actually drew on with pencil, rather than paint. It was a painstaking process to find the right kind of pencil that would allow her to do her elaborate designs on a motorcycle surface, and wouldn't run off when she covered them with a clear coat. The result is a breath-taking design that you won't see anywhere else. "I tend to have a kind of a dark aesthetic. I do a lot of figurative work. I do a lot of women, skeletons. I like the detail and the kind of dark beauty of that. It’s unusual. I haven’t seen anything else like it. Everyone likes it.”

Riding a Leatherwood bike is pretty special. I know personally. My bike was painted there. I had dropped it off for an oil change when Rose, Luke, and my wife conspired to surprise me. My flat black Harley-Davidson was anything but flat when I came to pick it up. They even painted a custom logo for me on the fender. It's now one-of-a-kind piece of artwork.

Rose is one-of-a-kind too. "I love all of the guys. I’ve been really fortunate that everyone’s been really cool and welcoming. I enjoy them. It’s kind of like a little family. I just love it. Just worked out really well. It was a good fit for me."

Check out more of Rose's great artwork by clicking on the slideshow. 

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Chris Best is the Assistant News Director for WMC Action News 5. He's a husband and father of four. He's also a motorcycle enthusiast.

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