Saturday, August 9, 2008

Celebrating Diversity


Well, I'm back from the Kentucky Art Car Weekend 2008, seventh annual, and it was checkered, indeed. If I were working here with Adobe InDesign instead of whatever generic thang Mister Google is providing, I'd offer my comments alternatively in blocks of white and of black. If frogs had wings ...

I sat at a table in The Blue Nile, an Ethiopian restaurant in Louisville, with two white-girl friends. The other patrons were men: two Indians or Pakistanis or Sri Lankans or something at one table, and six or seven Ethiopians at another. The waitress and owner were Ethiopian women. The owner saw my car outside and assumed it belonged to an African, which is the perfect compliment.

The next day, I heard The N-Word more times in a twelve-hour period than in my life altogether. I'm not exaggerating.

A car artist has an old dog, Curly, who lives with him in a cramped studio in Cincinnati. A cleaning woman in Louisville saw the dog in Michael's van and offered to take Curly out to her several-acre home where she keeps other old dogs and a couple of horses and goats and various critters. I got goosebumps when I heard her make the offer.

On the other hand -- in a black box of this checkerboard -- I saw a puppy that is probably going to die from neglect, from a complete lack of concern on the part of the reluctant owners. I haven't been back home forty-eight hours yet, but I trust that in a day or two, that whole idea will fade and will quit preying on my heart: I'll quit thinking I should have taken her with me.

I visited a cousin who says she lives in Stepford and, indeed, all the mailboxes in the development matched, by decree. Later, in a southeasterly direction, I watched young husbands pitch the debris of a long road trip onto their dad's lawn, with nary a complaint from anyone: liquor bottles, soda cans, McDonald's bags.

A couple people at the show quietly told me that my car was their favorite.

An executive walking downtown saw my car and sneered to his pal, "Pff! That hardly qualifies!"

I overheard him and let out a gasp of astonishment. My car doesn't qualify as an art car? Then he gasped because he saw I was the owner and he was embarrassed. Then I gasped again because I suddenly realized that he's correct: my car hardly does qualify. Then we both chuckled uncomfortably and the men walked on to the next car, providing relief for us all.

But it's true. My poor bien5 is hardly an art car. Sure, it's a painted car, and compared to your factory-painted car, it's pretty wild. But in Houston, where they get more than two hundred cars in their annual show, there's a category for painted cars. In the rest of the country, where thirty cars is a lot of cars, there aren't any categories, and there are very few painted cars.

This show had three. One belonged a woman who repaints her car every year. She was pressed for time this year, so she invited friends, family, strangers, to help her paint it. It's a patchwork quilt and while it's mostly paint, there are some other materials on it. It was remarkably cohesive. I'd love to be able to be open enough to have that kind of audience participation on my car, but hah!

The other painted car gets the trophy in my show. Tim McNally took his 2005 Honda Accord, put some fins on it, and painted it in a beautiful fashion. I'm not the only one who needed to stroke the car. I don't know what that's about, but once I touched it, I wanted to keep petting it. He used 1-SHOT Lettering Enamel, as did I, but I don't want to caress my car. I don't know if the photos will do it justice, but I'll include a picture of it. If Tim took that design he painted and put it on fabric or canvas or anything other thing, I'd buy it: tee-shirt, notebook cover, slippers, whatever. It's just great. That's what you see at the top of this page.

Otherwise, the average art car is loaded with stuff: toys and doll heads (a lot of doll heads), singing plastic fish, dentures, television tubes, sea shells, all manner of bells and whistles and beads and bangles, things that light up and move and play music and blow bubbles.

Perhaps I'll rename my car Plain Jane.

So now I am actually toying with the idea of not going to the show in Columbus, OH, after my class reunion. I only have about eleven days to decide, though.

Here's an idiot trying to get a photo of a street rod while driving on a major highway. She did it, but it now seems like a really stupid action ...


And here's Tim's car.


1 comment:

Mark said...

oh, that Honda. ooops....sorry. I'll shut up & hide now.