The Car as Art

A 1952 Cunningham race car
The 1952 Cunningham must surely qualify.

Circulating around the Blue Dome Arts Festival this weekend (it’s that thing next to Mayfest where you see artists from Tulsa) we got to see a lot of old friends and meet some interesting and creative people.

When we wandered down to Living Arts it was time to stroll through the vehicles on display for the Art Car Weekend. It reminded me of a meeting several years ago. Steve Liggett and a fledgeling group of organizers wanted to produce an event inspired by the massive Houston Art Car event. Steve asked me to attend because he knew I was a “car guy.”

I soon learned that a Car Guy is quite different from an Art Car Guy.

Roof detail of the “Chewbaru”

What became readily apparent at those early meetings was the “art,” in this instance, was something one must apply to an existing car. My suggestion that the car itself might be art was met with silence. I offered that a lovingly restored antique or an aerodynamic racing car designed by artisans might qualify as art on its own merit. Unfortunately that didn’t fit in with the art car philosophy.

That pretty much signaled the end of my involvement. But don’t get me wrong- I love some of the zany ideas these folks come up with. A Subaru covered with hundreds of dentures was a notable highlight this year- of course it was called the “Chewbaru.”

I applaud their efforts- and the success of the Tulsa’s ArtCar Weekend. I’d say we’re both better off without me.

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One thought on “The Car as Art”

  1. You are absolutely correct – the car can be art in and of itself. Dozens, probably nearing a hundred, of examples pop to mind fairly rapidly. Your Cunningham example certainly qualifies.
    As far as the ‘art car’ thing… I have regrettably seen dozens of those too; not a one qualifies as art. A few are cute and fun, but the majority are merely stupid and would only qualify as ‘shock art’ at best, which isnt art anyway. Dont get me started…

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