Artistry on Wheels

This weekend Houston celebrates the art car as an art form. The 24th rendition of the Art Car Parade makes its way through downtown Sunday. The international phenomenon draws upwards of 300-thousand people from around the world. Pat Hernandez has more.


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When it comes to art cars, Houston is considered the world capitol. Lynette Wallace is executive director of the Orange Show Center for Visionary Art, the organization that puts on the Art Car Parade. She says it’s the ultimate expression on wheels.

“It can be a daily driver that someone’s painted or put mirrors on, or decorated and they drive it to the store, to their workplace, their bank. Then there’s the contraptions and the big art cars that aren’t street legal and they can only show up at parades, and they’re done by artists as well as just everyday people.”

Besides self expression, Wallace says the rolling display allows the artist to be a star.

 “We had an event last summer where they temporarily painted cars and they painted my, I drive a Mini Cooper and they painted my Mini Cooper. So for a week and a half, I was an art car driver. And it’s amazing, I had sticky notes on my windshield saying ‘love your car’, and people honking and waving. So it is a life style, especially for the daily driver, I mean they really do bring joy every day to people that see their cars.”
The parade was the first of its kind when it was launched in 1986, with 11-entries. The canvas on asphalt has grown to what it is today.

“We have over 275 units, and it’s gonna be a great parade.”

PH: “Up and down Allen Parkway?”

Wallace: “Allen Parkway, from Shephard all the way making the loop at Bagby and coming back down, the main party area is Henry Moore around Taft, and then of course, Sam Houston Park is where we have the sand castle building for the kids, and a little art car making. So, Sam Houston is the place to bring your family, and of course we have food and beverages and gift shops at every location.”

She says the event is a major part of the mission of the Orange Show Center for Visionary Art.

“It’s the preservation of visionary art environments. It’s programs. We do a lot of programs with seniors and kids art workshops, to celebrate the artist in everyone. And then that’s the extension, our Houston Art Car parade.”

Wallace says the art usually goes beyond what people would expect to see. And for that reason, the Art Car mobile museum will make its debut at the parade. Judging is at 9am on Sunday and the parade starts at 1pm. Admission is free, but you might want to get there early.

art car crabs

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