The week of May 17-20 will see some very interesting mobile art in the Tulsa area. It's time for the 8th annual Tulsa ArtCar Weekend. The terms ArtCars involve the transformation of any type of motorcycle, scooter, bicycle or vehicle into something truly memorable and personal.
The great idea behind this art fest is that anyone can participate, from mechanics to welders, utilizing everything from glue to a torch.
"Modeled in part by the Houston ArtCar Parade which began in 1988 with 20 cars, and which today attracts over 250 vehicles, the Tulsa ArtCar Weekend was launched by Living Arts of Tulsa in 2004. Now in its eighth year, Tulsa ArtCar Weekend includes four days of diverse ArtCar events and activities including convoys throughout the city, children's activities, and plenty of time for the public to enjoy the creatively conjured vehicles, meet the artists, and hear of art-car travels whether parked at MayFest, the Blue Dome Arts Festival, or other places around town," Lyn Larson, ArtCar Committee member and artist said. Lyn's submission is called Tocame Troke.
Local artist Josh Mars describes what it is like to participate in ArtCars with a long tradition of blinging-out his ride in a variety of techniques.
"I've been hand-painting my 1965 VW Van for over 25 years and can't imagine it any other way," Mars said. "I have used stencils, free-hand painting styles, and sculpted with steel, pop-rivets, and screws on my mobile sculpture. Design ideas have originated from thin air, dreams, and just creating thumbnail sketches."
Along with the Blue Dome District and Mayfest, there will also be art cars in the Brady Arts District. Many family-friendly events are scheduled throughout the weekend, such as the "Saturday Morning Cruise" which stops at the Cherry Street Farmers Market, Utica Square and Brookside. On Sunday the ArtCar brunch and awards event will wrap up the caravan at Living Arts.
Not only is the experience of ArtCar Weekend memorable for Tulsa audiences, but each car holds a special meaning and fond memories for the artists.
"For me it is engaging families and the community to help create my moveable eye candy," Larson said. "Hundreds of people have had their hand at gluing some little jewel or nugget to my ArtCar. It is amazing to witness the pure joy people exude when they engage with Tocame Troke. Little children remember exactly which bauble is 'theirs.' While I maintain some artistic control, I have several 'public' areas on the ArtCar for the community to create their own piece of Tocame Troke."
Some elevate the concept and describe the experience in terms of Biblical characters and superheroes.
"Making Art that moves you is like building the Ark: nobody understands, people ask why and others argue whether it is really art or obsession. Comic Characters and superheroes all had unique rides, why not us?" said ArtCar Committee member and ArtCar artist Charlie Larson.
Creating moveable art has its challenges as well as its rewards.
"An ArtCar is not a canvas because it is sculpture, multi-dimensional. Designing, fabricating, discovering, electrical or sound wiring, moving parts, mechanical engineering; it's a big challenge and in addition to keeping it road worthy, what an overwhelming task! Weather has always been a large challenge for me, whether I am here in Oklahoma, or in my native state of California; I have never had a garage to work in. My ArtCar is my daily driver, so, I get to see reactions daily; using smiles, thumbs up, and the two-fingered victory sign," Josh Mars said.
Safety is also a concern in creating objects that will fly down the street at great speed; however, Rocketbike creator Charlie Larson also enjoys his creation immensely.
"Don't reinvent the wheel was my mantra while planning the retro RocketBike," Larson said. "It is your life at stake, and others on the road who might be hit by your debris. That said, not only does it look like a vintage rocketship, it actually drives like one! I built it make others smile but, I can't stop grinning when riding it."
There's also a message about throw-away culture in CarArt and how such frivolity on the road might bring a moment of serendipity to many.
"In our fast-paced, throw-away culture largely dependent upon environmentally-unfriendly technology, combined with hectic schedules, it is hard for many people to slow down to appreciate art," Larson said. "Most of us, including children, use cars, vans, trucks, or buses every day of our lives. How do we find time to remember art? If Tocame Troke, the RocketBike, or the Poodle Brothers van is sitting beside you at a red light, you will appreciate the art that found you by chance."
Other Tulsa ArtCar 2012 weekend activities include an Art Box Car Workshop at Philbrook's Free Second Saturday from 10:30am-4pm on May 12, and Circle Cinema will host the ArtCar premier documentary ART CAR: THE MOVIE on Sunday May 20 at 1pm. Following the film will be a Q&A session with the filmmakers Ford Gunter and Carlton Ahrens.
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