Thursday, December 4, 2008

City Car by Gary Siebel - Art Car covered in buildings

City on Wheels Art Car

City on Wheels Art Car with New York city in the background

Gary Siebel is the mastermind behind seven arts cars starting in 1985 with his first one called vanishing perspective. Since then his has created and amazing collection of art cars that seem to have a common tread, land scapes. Gary started out as a taxi driver in Seattle and after years of driving around town he came to appreciate the city's buildings. He also studied architecture in school and even though he never applied his knowledge commercially he did by making seven art cars over the past 28 years. On his first city scape car he spray painted a checkerboard landscape of a city as seen from above. Then he added the buildings on the roof, even ones that we were in the process of construction, just like in a real city. One the biggest problems he faced was vandalism and had hundreds of buildings stolen and damaged. This car was also featured in Harrod Blanks "Wild Wheels" book and movie.

Garry now resides in the SF Bay Area and has recently built the City Scape Van Art Car, that enables him to travel around the country more comfortably. In his latest creation he added lights to some of the buildings and the river is a picture of Salvador Dali. I have wanted to write about Gary and all of his art cars for a long time now and felt that his was work needed to be seen by many more people. Wow!!!

5:43 pm I just got an email from Garry with a more complete and accurate story regarding his cars. I was wrong about Garry having studied architecture he was more of a History guy, anyways here is the complete story. Thanks Gary:)

1st art car, 1987, the vanishing perspectivemobile. Totaled by a friend after I sold it.
I lost all respect for autos after pushing a hack for about ten years (hence, 1987), so I just started painting an ex-taxi. A friend suggested dead cat skins, but I rejected that idea.

Next art car also short lived, but I acquired a van (from the dead cat guy), and it went through many changes, from broken window paint job to more perspective to a pretty good brick wall rendition. Plus other schemes, so many I forget, and didn't care enough to record all the changes.

Vanishing Perspective Art Car

The City Car was the result of several factors: the urge to impress a particular babe, an artistic solution to a painting problem, a satire, a flight of fancy... and the fact I traded my semi-functional VCR for the car that had sat in front of my neighbors house for many months.. The artistic solution was the result of the vinyl top, upon which I could not continue to paint the map theme I had started, and the fact I had in hand 64 cut wooden blocks that were supposed to become a chess table, but instead looked rather like Main St when I started fooling around with them. The map led to the 1st City, which has never been any particular place --- but all my cities are grounded in castle Neuschwanstein, Disneyland, Las Vegas, New York, Shanghai, London, etc.-- all the major cities have a certain similarity of skyline.

City Car Art Car

The satire was simply a jab in they eye of consumerism and the cult of the automobile. They are merely transport, yet they are considered to be virtually another form of clothing, and what we wear in public is important. Taxis are trash, however, and by extension, all vehicles are trash because all vehicles are potential taxis.

A flight of fancy -- I always thought M C Escher ideas were rather clever, and his drawings worked because we can only focus on one limited area at a time, so my cities are impossible too, but plausibly arranged so as to work from various points of view.

After appearing in People Magazine, I found there were other art car people, including Harrod making his movie, so I wrote him a letter, and he came up to Seattle soon after because, as it turned out, he was wondering how to get in touch with me.. I sold the 1st City in Chicago not long after because I got tired of people ripping buildings off of it. Haven't heard of it since.(by then, I already had a stalker and I thought getting rid of the car would help get rid of her, too, to no avail.)

Next, and as result of a photo of the 1st Citycar appearing on the back page of Road and Track Magazine (plus the appearance in Harrod's movie, Wild Wheels) Hollywood paid me to create a "Seattle" car and appear in their Honda commercial. (It only appears to be the Seattle skyline view from the park on Queen Anne hill, on the passenger side. More futuristic from the driver side.) That was 1991... After the commercial was done filming in Seattle (filmed with Gene Pool with his Grass car, and some Chicken Car out of Louisiana), I insisted they take the car with them, so the last I heard it disappeared into LA -- probably crushed by now).

Seatle Art Car

After that I created the lunar surface on the Moon Car with the sawdust leftover from the buildings I had cut for the City. The Moon Car lasted for over ten years, and went through four phases: blue/gray, red, purple, and orange. It couldn't make it past smog so it was crushed by Ace in 2005.

Moonscape Art Car

Santana Row, San Jose, commissioned an extended golf-cart shopper transport thing in 2002, then they had the biggest fire in San Jose history, which I got to experience first hand because i had to save my City from the shower of tiny burning embers, but that piece also disappeared into history.

I built the current City on Wheels in five cities over three years: San Fran, Las Vegas, Seattle, Boulder, and Austin. the only help I received was in having a place to build (Hamman's Barn, S.F., Marston's Farm, Whidbey Island (where I also built the Moon Car), Albert's Enchanted forest, Austin, my sister's place in Boulder, and the streets and parking lots of Las Vegas). It is all cut wood, except for a few Monopoly houses driver side rear, and the plexiglas around the wood core of the two dark towers. Many bldgs have E-L wire lighting. No legos, and I pressure wash it to clean. Mileage is the same (the tower group, top front center, is actually set back to decrease drag, but the hood takes the brunt, i find).

I have always treated my wheels in the manner in which they deserve -- no precious art piece that I keep forever without making a new one, like a piece of 'art" mom put up on the family refrigerator from your first grade, that never gets taken down because, after all, YOU did it; no parades; keep it guerilla. I occasionally parked it in front of SFMOMA on a Sunday, ten paces from the front door, the only major art museum to have parking so close to it's front door, and left a comment book on it. I have been working a different side of the street, so to speak, than most art car people. I will delve into that aspect further at a later time.

Cars are vulnerable to the elements and the miles, and this one too, due to mechanical issues, is slated for imminent destruction. The wind is too harsh for the paint job on the front portion to retain it's luster for more than eight months. The glue, Lexel, has been impressive, and -- unlike the 1st City -- only a couple of bldgs have been stolen (bigger ones are screwed down) Registration expires Feb 2009. I designed it so I could strip the buildings off and reuse them. I cannot store it and refuse to dump more money into a pit. That's the risk of an art car -- indeed, of all cars -- sudden death syndrome, from any of a large number of potential reasons.
Gary Siebel more pics on my Srapwall

City On Wheels Art Van - Can you see Salvador Dali?
Seattle in the background
City on Wheels Art Van
City on Wheels Close, buildings with L-Wire

what a story, I think the best one so far.

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