Jennie Lay: My Art Car
Finally, I have a brilliant solution for all the weird travel debris I have been hoarding throughout the years.
I am destined to make an Art Car and join the ranks of quirky automobiles that will be parading through Steamboat’s streets during the Beaux Arts Festival.
My only regret is that I wish I’d thought of this before I hauled my trusty red VW convertible — with plenty of character and more than 300,000 miles — off to the junkyard. It would have been the perfect vessel for this artistic endeavor — a road-weary voyager oozing with tales of adventure.
For an Art Car, no shiny new vehicle will do. Looking at pictures from Art Car museums, parades and other assorted gatherings across the country, it’s obvious that the cars at the heart of these creations have well-worn soul. Not all cars are worthy of the meticulous effort it takes to glue thousands of buttons on the entire body of the vehicle; not every car is fit to become a cockroach or a virtual swamp.
Despite the lamentable loss of my crumbling convertible, there is a horrid little Subaru festering in my yard that would make a perfect back-up canvas for the Art Car that is brewing inside my head.
Who would have guessed that I could get rid of a hunk-of-junk car and a dozen boxes full of strange postcards and miscellaneous trinkets in one fell swoop? It’s a much better solution than throwing the stuff away — which I never had any notion of doing anyway.
Finally, my best travelogue intentions could be realized. All those quirky items that looked so intriguing after a few beers and a saunter through some outdoor market half way around the world could go on display. Someone might even get a momentary chuckle out of my disorganized memorabilia.
A fine collage of amateur photographs would provide the base. I have boxes of them dating back decades. There’s no need for geographical organization — my Art Car will be truly global. Anapurna can go by Aswan. Vietnam can jumble with Venice. The Nicaraguan Dia de los Muertos parade would look dandy next to New Orleans. And perhaps I should reserve a special spot on the bumper for snapshots of monuments to defunct Communist dictators that I have been collecting since traipsing through Eastern Europe in 1991.
I have a lot of worthless money to beef up this creation, too — bags of coins and rolls of paper currency for governments and economies that no longer exist. I have giant peso coins from the 1970s, zlotys from the Cold War and a bunch of the colorful collateral Europeans tossed to make way for the euro.
My Art Car definitely would sport fringe, because I have a terrible weakness for small children in developing countries who accost me with beaded necklaces for sale. I can display my assortment of seed beads from Egypt, stick beads from Costa Rica and plastic Buddha beads from Vietnam with pride. I might even step it up a notch and string a special collection of Tibetan turquoise beads for my rear view mirror.
I have paper airline tickets (the old, red, carbon copy kind), museum stubs, the front page newspaper from the day the Soviets pulled out of Czechoslovakia, defunct passports filled with elaborate visas issued in Arabic and Cyrillic, and scraps of paper with addresses for travel compadres from all over the world who I never expect to see again.
Amid all this perfect Art Car fodder, there is ample room for 3-D embellishment, as well.
Perhaps I could build a water feature using the ceramic, straw-like cup designed to “take the waters” at Karlovy Vary and the heavy glass stein I hustled out of a biergarten in Heidelberg. There are certainly pieces of flowing batik clothing that I wouldn’t be caught dead wearing around here, but which might add a colorful flourish to my Art Car’s upholstery. I’ve stowed little, white, dinosaur-egg rocks from the beach in Greece, sand dollars from Costa Rica, shells gathered on a lifetime of walks on sandy beaches all over the world and stones pocketed on trails from the Tatras to the Tetons.
Good stuff worth saving, I always knew. All the better to build an Art Car, I now know.
When it’s done, I’ll bless my Art Car with a dash of saffron from the Turkish bazaar, sip Nepali chai that’s spicy with black pepper and sit back and watch my world go by.
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