Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Art Cars of Saint Petersburg, Florida

Derek Donnelly was the first to paint his car as a rolling work of art in this current wave. The photo shows it in its first incarnation, at the grand opening of Saint Paint Gallery. It has been since repainted. This one has always been a collaborative effort by several of St. Pete's best street artists.

This Toyota Matrix belongs to photographer Khalid Hameed and was painted by Christian Thomas in a Live Paint at Queenshead Pub.

I painted my car today.... inspired by Derek's car and the spray painting on Saturday night.
Jennifer Kosharek joined the elite art cars group recently by painting this car (which already had some small painted bits on it, including a painting of Woo on the hood) with help from her children.

Before all of these, Barbara Nicolazzo was painting art cars (and vans) for her friends and customers. On the left, she is shown with her own car.

Art cars have been around for a long time elsewhere, at least since Ken Kesey's Further bus in which the Merry Pranksters awakened a sleeping nation. Janis Joplin had an art Porsche 356, John Lennon a Rolls-Royce, and artists like Larry Fuente, Jackie Harris and David Best made their own.

At Artcar Fest, San Francisco
 Filmmaker Harrod Blank did a series of documentaries on this phenomenon, amongst them Wild Wheels, Driving the Dream, and Automorphosis. He also did two books on this topic. With Philo Northrup, he also founded the ArtCar Fest in San Francisco.

 In Houston there is the famous Glowrama, an illuminated art car festival.


And there have been corporate efforts to seize this artitic niche. BMW commissioned very famous artists to paint some of their cars. This one is by Jeff Koons.

Art cars are part and parcel of the Burning Man Festival. I have a feeling Woo would have liked this one, with some color painted on it.

There is also an Artcar Museum! In Houston TX. [Link]. They put on a yearly parade.

The Artcar painters of St. Pete join a rich Art tradition. Below, three Artcars from Europe...

From Japan....

 Andy Warhol painting a BMW...

---- Luis

PS. Janis Joplin and her Porsche 356


  1. What a fun article, and the time travel was awesome. Thank you!

  2. Janice and her Porsche is my favorite, hands down!

  3. I love art cars! At burning Man I am part of the crew of the Monaco. Three masted frigate. We sail the desert, I mean turn off the motor drop the sails and we use wind power. It is amazing!
    Dick Patterson

  4. everyday is a parade when you drive an artcar.... http://www.flickr.com/photos/thatcar/8286643133/in/photostream