Alex J. Rodriguez (Dr. A-Rod) came to Atlanta in 2004 after completing his education at the University of Florida. As the son of an Air Force officer, Dr. Rodriguez moved often. He was born in California, but spent time living in Virginia, Germany, Florida, Korea, and now Georgia. And although his extended family still lives in the Tampa area, Atlanta is where Dr. Rodriguez calls home. For ten years he lived in Atlanta's Reynoldstown neighborhood, but in 2016 he and his wife moved to the nearby Ormewood Park area with their two young children, Oscar and Adeline, and their dogs, Peach and Delta. Dr. Rodriguez is a daily bicycle commuter, and part-time public artist.
Dr. A-Rod is a daily bicycle commuter, and has been since high school, college, dental school, and even today. During college he spent years as a mechanic, turning wrenches in a bicycle shop, and it was during this time that he got into the competitive side of the sport. He raced mountain bikes, road bikes, and eventually found his strength in track bike racing. He was highly involved in the University of Florida’s Cycling Team, including one year as team president. He also won several medals with the team at the national collegiate level, and even an individual state championship (Florida, 2002: Keirin race). Today Dr. A-Rod continues to be active in the cycling community, and can be seen commuting by bicycle daily along the BeltLine to his dental office in Inman Park.
Dr. A-Rod is a part-time sculptor, whose works are currently on display in downtown Atlanta, along the Atlanta BeltLine's Eastside Trail, in Chimney Park in Covington, and in Pilot Park in Monroe, GA.
Although he has no formal art training, Dr. A-Rod does have an exceptional understanding of structural engineering and technical beauty, with the ability to create long-lasting works with his hands. Dr. Rodriguez has also had a lifelong interest in all things related to cycling, and began creating functional art from used bicycle parts around 2001. Almost all of his art involves the bicycle in some way or another.
One of the most common questions I am asked is, of course, “why did you become a dentist?” Many people are surprised to learn that I’ve been saying I was going to be a dentist since I was 5 years old!
I grew up in a military family, living wherever my dad was stationed. In the early 1980’s, my dad worked at the Pentagon, and one winter we took a family trip to Puerto Rico to visit some of my relatives and get away from the snow. During that trip we spent a good bit of time with one of my relatives, Fernando, who worked as a dentist there in Puerto Rico.
For a five-year-old, the whole trip must have been amazing. Going from the cold of a Virginia winter, to the warmth and sun of a Caribbean island certainly left an impression in my young mind. Even more, I must have taken a great liking to Fernando, because ever since then I kept saying “I’m going to be a dentist!”
Through the years I always seemed to keep dentistry in the back of my mind, but it did seem weird for a little kid to be so stuck on a profession that he barely knew! So I tried to explore dentistry a little further. In Boy Scouts, I earned my Dentistry Merit Badge, and in high school I started spending my afternoons volunteering in a dental laboratory (where crowns and dentures and such get made). There I tried my hand at the fine detailed work of designing a crown by hand with wax, and then eventually casting it in metal and polishing it, ready for delivery back to the dentist (and then ultimately in to someone’s mouth).
In college, I took it a little further, and would spend several hours each week volunteering at a private dental office, observing, learning, and trying to get a grasp of the day-to-day business of dentistry. And through all that, there was never anything that turned me off of the profession. I enjoyed the hands-on part so much, that I only grew more dedicated. But it was my other college job that really turned me towards the profession...
During most of my time at the University of Florida I was actively involved with the cycling team. I raced, I organized events, I was president of the team for a year, and I competed at the national level. So it was only natural for me to work in a bicycle shop while I went to school. For years I worked as a mechanic, turning wrenches and getting the feel for tools in my hand. It was this time in the bike shop that really convinced me that ultimately, I had to end up in a profession where I could use my hands. And so it all started to come together. Dentistry fit me so well. I had the interest, the dexterity, and the success in school necessary to become what I had been dreaming about as a young boy!
-Alex Rodriguez DMD