Origin of the Art Car

Mary Locklear, 72, admires the photographs of some of the Art Cars from Burning Man at the National Automobile Museum in Reno, Nevada.

Burning Man, an event not for the faint of heart, is an annual arts festival that lasts from August 27th to September 3rd. It is a place of self-expression, creativity, and self-reliance. During this annual festivity, something called the “Art Car” was created, also known as a “Mutant Vehicle”, and it has changed the way a car can be defined. The National Automobile Museum of Reno, NV held an event called “Mutant Rides: Origin of a Species” on Sunday. The museum has some of the actual art cars from Burning Man on display and photography of others. The displays of the event show the art cars and explain the impact not only the vehicles have on culture, but the way Burning Man has affected humanity.
As I walk around the exhibit and admire the displays, I listen to people talk about what they are seeing. I hear the rumors about Burning Man, and how a man from Santa Cruz started it after his girlfriend burned his clothes on the beach when he broke up with her. It is funny how as people we make stories about things we don’t understand. We fear change and new ideas, especially radical ideas like the ones that created Burning Man.
The first art car was created by Harrod Blank in 1994. The car was called “Oh My God!” The cars are a major part of Burning Man. They make up a huge part of the artistic displays in Burning Man. People cannot just put glow sticks and spray paint on their car and call it an art car. A car must be approved through the Department of Mutant Vehicles (DMV) before getting an event license that allows it to be considered an art car. The cars that receive licenses must add to the visual beauty of Burning Man.

The first art car "Oh My God!" is now considered a historical monument to its creator, Harrod Blank.

The art car exhibit represents much more than just cars that have been dramatically changed. It represents the beliefs and values of the people that attend Burning Man. In 1986, Larry Harvey created the first Burning Man that started as a celebration of the summer solstice with only 20 people in attendance. Last year, in 2011, over 50,000 people came together in the Black Rock Desert to build a community that would be one of the largest cities in Nevada for one week.
In a place that is free of societal pressures, capitalism, and judgment it is easy to see how such amazing art can be created. The mutant vehicle is a great example of what can happen when the mind is allowed to open up and just create. “A mutant vehicle is a unique, motorized creation that shows little or no resemblance to its original form or to any standard street vehicle.” Roger Solie, a docent volunteer at the National Automobile Museum, explains to a group of tourists what the definition of a mutant vehicle is. The irony of this is that the uniqueness and the difficulty of defining these cars, is what makes them stand out as important to automobile and American history.
There are cars made into peacocks, slippers, and wart hogs. On the wall, of the gallery, are pictures of cars on the playa shaped as bananas and elephants. The possibilities are endless for these art forms. “It is amazing. It is a place for people to get really creative.” Sheila Lester of Reno, Nevada brought her mother and father to the museum to let them see this remarkable art created at Burning Man.
The display will be at the National Automobile Museum until July 25th of 2012.

Evans, C.J.. ” .” Burning Man: What is Burning Man?. N.p., 2011. Web. 10 Apr 2012. .

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Posted on April 9, 2012, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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