20 Jul This Work of Art Obeys Traffic Laws
This Work of Art Obeys Traffic Laws
Philo Northrup, 54, an entrepreneur from Reno, Nev., on his art car, as told to A.J. Baime: An art car is a permanently modified, street-legal vehicle. People create them everywhere. It’s not a parade float. The modifications are artistic, and the car exists in the normal world. That’s why it’s such a fun medium and why I’ve been driving art cars for 30 years. Of course the car has to be legal and safe, which adds to the artist’s challenge.
How do you make an art car without adding a thousand pounds? Without risking that things will fly off? To make it last, since it’s outside all the time? My most recent is called Daisy Singer. I bought a 2004 Honda Element new and worked on it for three years. It’s covered in very old things, like ceiling tins from Victorian houses. The interior is plush and Edwardian, and the roof has antlers from big horn sheep, elk and buffalo. I’ve built pieces of an antique Singer sewing machine and a Daisy stove plate into the car—thus its name. Daisy was also the first name of an heiress to the Singer sewing-machine fortune. Every day I take the car into the normal world, and every day people react wildly, letting me know they like what I’m doing. That kind of feedback is rare for most artists.