The artomobile

Was driving home on 93 South Tuesday night and kicked myself for not having my camera with me. Actually, I couldn't literally kick myself while driving, so I banged my steering wheel with the heel of my palm in self-loathing frustration.

In front of me was small older model lightweight pickup truck. I was so enamored of its paint job, I forgot to note what make it was, but it did have a white cap over the bed. The paint on this truck is hard to describe. The owner used it to make a statement or two. One of them was painted on the tailgate: "Art is cheap." Oh, the multiple entendres of that statement on this work of rolling art. The other statement is, I love my car and I love my craft.

As a writer by trade, it is hard for me to scoff at anyone else's interpretation of art and what someone else deems art. It is, as the cliche goes, subjective. I certainly wouldn't paint my car a pale shade of pink or purple, as this truck owner did, and cover that with random figures that at quick glance looked like crude outlines of eyes and eyelashes, but upon closer inspection might have more closely resembled cave drawings or hieroglyphs of the sun. Better yet, the figures could have been meant to resemble a Petri dish with countless amoebae floating about. Look at that, all that from a passing glance on a dark highway. (And yes, if I had had my camera, I would have tried to snap a photo while driving, though I don't know how well it would have come out in the dark.)

In general, I like art. My tastes trend towards the traditional scenes found in musty old museums, but I am interested in talking to today's artists who are reaching into new media, or repurposing old media. And I can see why a car would make such a great work of art. For starters, in and of itself, a car can be considered a work of art. A team of designers (probably artistically trained) spent months coming up with the shape of the truck's body while working within the limitations of the chassis dimensions and federal safety regulations. That's sort of like painting on flat canvas and then placing it around a stretcher.

Then, after who knows how many owners, the truck becomes the utilitarian inanimate device needed to cart around various original creations. It is otherwise nondescript if perhaps a bit tired looking. Then, one day, bored with the unoriginal look, the owner decided to take brush to it and make the art-hauling truck into the artomobile (that's my term, not the truck owner's). Suddenly this well-used pickup has been lovingly reinvigorated. Seeing this, and quickly calculating his or her cost, the owner decides the tailgate is going to bear a special message: Art is cheap. Indeed it is.

It was a treat to see this truck on the road, and it brought a smile to my face to see that someone was willing to stab a little independence into the mundane world of auto paint. If only I had my camera I could share it with all of my reader (singular on purpose in an attempt to be humorously self-deprecating).


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