Portland Art Cars
We drove up one rainy street and down another looking for a parking place. Then, out of the fog and mist and late-winter wistfulness, this magnificent vehicle appeared!
"Look," I shouted to my daughter, who was driving.
"It's an art car," she said, as if this were entirely commonplace. Which I guess it is, in Portland.
Now, I'm thinking of gathering an assortment of geegaws to glue onto my Subaru. I had wanted my neighbor Steve to tart up my car with some flames or wings or something-- he does that for a living, although mostly of the business logo variety. But now, my longing for car tattoos seems terribly tame.
I love both public art and folk art, and I love the way they converge in the art car. I think it's a form of public service to lavish this much attention--this much loving, idiosyncratic detail-- on something that everyone gets to enjoy. How rude, how shocking that one of Portland's finest seems to have given this art car a parking ticket (see yellow envelope at bottom left of front window). It should have been a citation for creative valor!
I confess a fondness for over-the-top Christmas displays--front yards that feature wooden nativity scenes and old plastic Santas and and wicker raindeer and lights hanging everywhere (I draw the line at those giant inflated snow-globes that are hooked up to generators and churn away night and day. Was happy to watch, from my office window, as one on the next block gradually deflated and collapsed a few months ago. People should either make or inherit their kitch.) I love outlandish Easter displays, too. Somewhere on the east side of Cleveland, there's a guy who turns his whole front yard into a picture mosaic every year using plastic eggs. I can't believe I've lived here as long as I have and not yet seen it.
Front-yard gardening is also public art-- a gift from one person to everyone who walks, bikes or drives by. I don't have the yard of my dreams yet, but people still stop on my sidewalk and tell me how much they enjoy my garden. "Just wait," I always mutter under my breath. "Wait until next year."
Now I'm imagining an art car parked in my driveway. I probably have about five square feet of clutter in this house, stuff that I can't sell or give away but can't bring myself to dump. Broken masks from Mexico, single earrings, chipped china, old political buttons, gum-machine toys, cyclops glasses...maybe all this can be fashioned into an arty swirl on my car. A modest one, though, because I don't know that I have the patience or the talent to attempt something like the bear-head car.
I could probably replicate the faux birdshit on my bumpers, though.