Arts and Cars: Vehicular Abstraction highlights new art medium
Published: Thursday, October 11, 2012
Updated: Thursday, October 11, 2012 00:10
The quiet neighborhood of Garfield came alive with the sounds of roaring, rolling works of art last Saturday.
Most Wanted Fine Art hosted an event entitled Vehicular Abstraction, an event that features cars turned into pieces of art. It is the first of its kind to come to Pittsburgh and is the brainchild of Most Wanted Fine Art’s owner Jason Sauer.
The 20 “art cars,” 17 from Pittsburgh and three from Ohio, gathered at Penn Avenue and Winbiddle Street, just up the street from Most Wanted Fine Art’s studio on the corner from noon to 4 p.m. and brought a unique art experience to the streets of Pittsburgh. The art car medium is something rarely seen in the northern states and almost never in Pittsburgh, according to Sauer.
It also featured two live artists, Sam Thorp and Eric Luden, who hand-painted intricate flame detailing on the side of a van.
As a fan of art cars, Sauer wanted to represent the style in conjunction with the Penn Ave Arts Initiative and as an artistic service to the community. Unlike some car events that could leave an amateur-grease-monkey-feeling left out, art car events are accessible ways for people to express themselves through artistic vehicular modification. Art cars could be as simple as a beat up car with some house paint thrown on the side or seashells and sequins glued to the roof. Or it could be a van shaped like a toaster with two “toast” mattresses popping out of the roof, according to Sauer. Sauer’s personal preferred form of artistic vehicular expression comes in the shape of his beat up demolition derby car.
“Anyone can throw house paint on their car,” Sauer said.
After a successful Kickstarter campaign to raise $6,000, Sauer drove across the nation with his wife and infant son towing his derby car behind them to attract the attention of fellow art car enthusiasts. The art car movement is much more popular in the South, according to Sauer, as the older cars don’t rust as badly there as they do here. Along the way, Sauer met with local arts councils and took mug shots of the artists he met. He then glued the mug shots to his derby car for some added flair.
The cars on display were each eligible to be selected for a prize by one of the three judges as well as the people’s choice award. The three judges consisted of city councilman Bill Peduto, Nicholas Chambers, curator of the Milton Fine Arts at the Warhol Museum, and George Patterson, the two-time winner of the Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix. Patterson’s own art car submission, a 1973 Volkswagen Thing, was also on display at the event.
“Cars are a great release, you can make them look any way you want,” Patterson said. “I think it’s great, everyone of these cars is just a fun personal expression.”
Patterson purchased his Thing from a previous owner around July or August and has since then only made small changes to his radically unique car. One of the most enjoyable things about art cars is adding “your own thumb print” to the car, according to Patterson.
“It’s rolling art…rolling, thumping, growling art,” Patterson said.
Patterson has another five cars that he has collected at home. He also does part time work as an instructor Porsche Club where he teaches sports car owners how to drive them in a safe environment.
Chambers, another judge, was recruited less for his automotive passion.
“I think Jay’s bringing me in more for my art expertise than car expertise,” Chambers said.
This show was not only Chambers first time as an art car judge, but his first time attending an art car exhibition. Before Chambers moved to Pittsburgh six months ago, he owned a vintage Fiat 500 Bambino and also had an interest in vintage scooters, but has never seen anything like the submissions at the show.
“I’m just looking forward to seeing the entries,” Chambers said, who was intrigued by the mediums combination of surface art and sculptural work.
Eric Luden, one of the live illustrators on hand at the event, was also excited about the Art Car genre and its possible future in the cities cultural scene
“I’d like to see it blossom more in Pittsburgh,” Luden said.
Luden works as a professional illustrator and knew about the art car culture because of its popularity among his friends on the west coast, though this is his first experience with the style.
“This is actually the first time I’ve worked on cars,” Luden said. “[It’s] kinda just for fun.”
This event was the first of its kind, but Sauer isn’t planning for it to be the last.
“We’d like to do this again next year,” Sauer said.