Randy Blair spent about $5,000 more to bedeck his car in glass than on the $15,000 car itself. "I was trying to make something that's as pretty as my wife, but I'm still not there," he told people admiring his art car, a four-year work in progress. He and his wife, Wanda, drove the centerpiece from Houston to Dallas to showcase it at the three-day CityArts festival in Fair Park.
Addressing onlookers concerns that the pieces may come loose on a long drive, Blair said, "The only thing that's fallen off is my gas mileage. That's fallen way off." He adheres the items to the car with silicone that is both flexible and durable. The chef of 30 years who decorates the vehicle as a hobby uses it as his everyday ride, driving to and from catering jobs in the Houston area. The car also holds a lot of memories. He and his son, who is now 15 years old, made the wire flowers on the dashboard when his son was four. It's accouterments like those that give the car soul, he told Mixmaster.
Blair poses with both sides of a sign he keeps in the car to flash at onlookers at red lights.
When he was a child, Blair's mother, an artist, never gave him coloring books, only a paper and colors. She felt that the lines made the books too constricting. While many people create art cars to make a statement or explore a theme, Blair said, "The only statement I have to say is be yourself. Don't be afraid to let it all hang out."
Blair won awards for "Participants' Choice" and "Daily Driver" at last weekend's Houston Art Car Parade, where he met Paulette Perlman, whose art car was parked next to his in Fair Park. Perlman drove her miracle-themed art car from Panama City, Florida. She began painting the vehicle shortly after the double-whammy of losing her job as a bank courier and witnessing the Gulf oil spill. "I was like, 'What am I going to do?'" Perlman says, "So I painted my car, and the car is all about miracles and the things that we do have."
The third car parked at the entrance to CityArts festival had the most attitude. The ring on the nose attached to its hood and its giant glittery eyeglasses on the window made it look like it was about to start mouthing off. But it is the door portraits of Queen Latifa, Tina Turner, Audrey Hepburn and others that make it the "Women Rock" art car. "I honor women. The whole car honors women," said Bonnie Blue, the car's creator. She calls hers a "moving art gallery." It's meant to showcase her other art including uncanny portraits of rock stars painted on rocks (She also does rock portraits for hire.). Currently, her van gallery is also showcasing painted bras to raise awareness for breast cancer.