Friday, September 28, 2007

The San Francisco Art Car Parade

Yesterday San Francisco hosted an incredible one-of-a-kind event – an Art Car Parade and Festival. Starting at Marina Park and winding along the Bay through Fisherman’s Wharf and to the Embarcadero, the parade featured over 30 decorated vehicles. What a spectacle! My favorite was the Sashimi Tabernacle Choir car, an automobile from Texas covered with models of lobsters and fish – 250 of them! They are bolted to a Volvo and when cued, sing a series of songs, everything from opera to pop to punk rock. The car has 2 computers, over 200 pounds of batteries and five miles of control system wire. Wow!
Here is what Wikipedia says about the Art car phenomenon:
An art car is a vehicle that has its appearance modified as an act of personal artistic expression. Art car artists usually drive and own their own work. They are sometimes referred to as "Cartists". Art car artists or owners often dress in a matching motif when displaying their cars. Art cars and car artists come from all walks of life, uphold a wide range of personal philosophies and beliefs and come from all political groups.
An important aspect of art cars and car artists is the general belief that there are no standards. Ideally, there are no super stars nor is any car better than any other. Art cars are unique in that no art car is a "bad" or "wrong" art car. There is more of a sense of inclusion than in other car groups which focus on standards, specific historic periods or makes and models of car.
Most car artists are ordinary people with no artistic training. They are largely self-taught and self funded, though some mainstream trained artists have also worked in the art car medium. Some consider their art to be created as a source of income or as "professional" artworks. Most others agree that creating and driving an art car daily is its own reward. Well known artists like Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol etc. have designed BMW Art Cars and their work has been reflected in racing cars like the BMW V12 LMR.
Art cars can be driven as daily drivers. Others are hauled around the country on trailers and have never driven any where but within art car shows. Others are found everywhere from the local grocery store, to formal museums to organized shows. Some are predominantly functional whereas others are considered primarily art works. Some car artists would never rent their car out while others build cars to make money.

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