Artists get creative with Art Car designs | SteamboatToday.com
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Artists get creative with Art Car designs

Amanda Toy

Most people use caulk to seal cracks in their homes.

But Nod D’Nal-Teews, an artist from Fort Worth, Texas, has used “over 300 tubes” of caulk, along with his fingers, to transform the outside — and inside — of his 1979 Dodge Maxivan and matching trailer, dubbed the “Art Ark.”

D’Nal-Teews and his creations, known as “Art Cars,” join six other decorated vehicles in Steamboat Springs this weekend for the second year as part of the Beaux Arts Festival.

The cars, which are on display today in Torian Plum Plaza, are the products of thousands of hours of labor and countless bursts of imagination.

“I get more ideas by the minute than I can handle,” D’Nal-Teews said. The “Art Ark” is painted a dark orange that fades to a light yellow and encompasses a variety of items in its design, from broom handles to rain gutters to pie tins.

“I like recycling,” he said.

Work on the car began eight years ago, but it’s still a work in progress, he said. D’Nal-Teews changes the color of the “Art Ark” about every two years.

Friends Noah Edmundson and Kenny Browning, from Houston, responsible for the “Iron Maiden,” emphasized the importance of fresh ideas in the Art Car world.

“We didn’t want to do a painted car or something that had been done. This hadn’t been done,” Browning said.

The “Iron Maiden” is a “medieval hot-rod,” Edmundson said. Their creation features two stainless-steel snakes, complete with scales and purple eyes, welded to each side of a 1983 Jeep CJ7. It also is equipped with a flame-thrower and a matching boat that is sometimes towed behind the car.

“Iron Maiden” took four months to build, adding to the long list of Art Cars the pair has built. Edmundson has been “doing Art Cars for almost 30 years,” he said.

Another decidedly different automobile, the “Sashimi Tabernacle Choir,” took a team of 30 people three months to build in Houston. The 1984 Volvo 240 DL sedan has “240 critters and over five miles of cable,” said Bill Viereck, one of the builders.

Bass, trout, catfish, sharks and lobsters (from the Billy Bass line) are attached to the car and can sing more than 40 songs while swimming. On the top of the car, male and female lead singers and a lobster conductor are in charge.

While most people regard the Billy Bass products to be ideal gag gifts, that’s exactly what made owner Richard Carter come up with the idea for the car.

“(Carter) saw the singing fish and thought, ‘Wow, that’s really annoying. How annoying would 240 of them be?'” Viereck said.

Music is incorporated into another of this weekend’s featured cars, the “Lizard King,” with musician Jim Morrison reaching from the top. Rebecca Bass and her students at Waltrip High School in Houston created this car, which will be gifted to the Steamboat Arts Council today.

Bass teaches a class in which students produce an Art Car each year. With 19 dedicated students who worked after school, on weekends and during spring break, the final product is a masterpiece.

This year’s transformed Honda Civic is the 16th Art Car completed under Bass’ instruction. It is covered with broken mirrors, dominos, Mardi Gras beads, marbles, glow-in-the-dark stars and pennies.

“It was just junk that people donated,” class member Marlene Perez said.

At the top is the long-haired Morrison outfitted with multiple arms. Music is often a part of the cars that her classes create, Bass said, because “kids are so excited about music.”

Dave Major from Benton, Kan., also incorporated his passions into his Art Car. Major, an automobile enthusiast and a private pilot, crafted the “Aerocar,” formerly a 1959 BMW 600, to combine his two favorites — cars and planes.

The “Aerocar” has wings, a tail, propellers and tires from a plane. His mission was accomplished when he realized that some viewers thought the car actually could take flight.

“I wanted to make an Art Car that you could drive and that looked like it can fly,” Major said. But, like many Art Cars, he said the “Aerocar” is not finished.

“I’m always looking for more airplane parts,” Major said. “I’ll never be totally done.”

Local Art Car owner Jean Benton is part of the event. She had her motor home painted to match her Volkswagen beetle five years ago after being diagnosed with cancer. Her vehicles often are seen around Steamboat.

Organizer Lynne Masters is responsible for bringing the vehicles to Steamboat, though she doesn’t own an Art Car, at least not yet. Her white Subaru is scheduled for a makeover.

“I’m going to paint mine with butterflies, dragonflies and hummingbirds,” Masters said.

Masters hopes that the event will grow even larger in the coming years.

“Next year I hope to have 25 cars,” she said.


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