You’ve probably seen your fair share of custom cars while on the road, but have you ever pulled up to a stoplight and looked over to see a drivable silver shark with sculpted fins, or a cherry red high-heel on wheels? If not, California’s ArtCar Fest is the place to see some of the strangest “street legal” works of art ever to roll down the road.
Not your average car show, ArtCar Fest is a mobile celebration of what happens when creativity and cars collide. Artists take the typical out of their daily drives by permanently modifying them through sculpting, painting, decoupaging or otherwise transforming them into imaginative, registered and insured, roadworthy masterpieces recognized collectively as “art cars.” The festival’s purpose is to bring these unique, artful automobiles together for everyone to see, enjoy and be inspired by.
Many art cars have been given their own theme and, like most artwork, a title. They arrive decked out in a multitude of mediums – from over-the-top paint jobs bursting with originality, to cars covered in a mosaic-like fashion, to highly stylized sculptures that bear little resemblance to their former shape. There are art cars out there that have been decorated with everything from dentures to shirt buttons, bones and even toilet paper rolls. Some art cars are a “hats-off” to famous artists whose work inspired them from Van Gough-esque vehicles to Mondrian-styled ones.
A variety of art cars can be found all over the world; in New Zealand, there is a car covered in playing cards. If you think your car’s sound system has bass, the DJ Mobile Art Car, created by a Dutch art car artist, features a pair of turntables – and multiple speakers jutting out the rear quarter that, in a sense, resemble rocket engines. The art car phenomenon has even crossed over to other modes of transportation from bicycles to boats. Art Car World, an art car museum in Douglas, Arizona, is open by special arrangement for personal showings and is slated to open to all in 2011.
Festivities featuring art cars have cropped up in cities around the country – including Houston, Texas and Seattle, Washington – but California’s ArtCar Fest is the only one to center solely around the art car. It’s the biggest congregation of art cars on the West Coast and has been celebrated annually for more than a decade. The festival also boasts that it is the only one of its kind to be founded and organized by art car creators. Harrod Blank, one of the festival’s founders, is one such artist; he is such an avid aficionado of the art car genre that he wrote a book entitled Art Cars: The Cars, the Artists, the Obsession, the Craft, and made a film about the subject, entitled Automorphosis, which screened over the summer in several western cities. He also operates a booking agency for art cars available for all kinds of events.
There’s no telling what kind of inspiring, drivable art you may see as ArtCar Fest gets rolling October 8 - 10, 2010. The festivities begin Friday afternoon as a procession of ArtCars more than a mile in length makes its way from Berkley up to Sacramento on Interstate 80. On Saturday, the art cars will add some wheels to Sacramento’s ArtWalk. Festivities also include a flamboyant fashion show where art is wearable, featuring some unique and unusual “apparel.” If you have a passion for fashion design and have constructed your own “one of a kind” interesting outfit, feel free to take a turn in the fashion show! There will be art cars in droves plus music and fun for the whole family. Who knows? You may even be driven to create an ArtCar of your own!
For more information, visit www.artcarfest.com.