Vallejo Art Car Coalition
The Vallejo ArtCar Coalition is a project that Sherry started to inspire Vallejoeans to turn their daily driving vehicles into ArtCars. In 2015 She organized and hosted ArtCar Fest in Vallejo. This was a grassroots event with support from local restaurants, artists and friends.
artcar fest drives into vallejo
All photos in the above collection by SN Jacobson
By Dianne de Guzman, Vallejo Times Herald
Printed Saturday, July 13, 2015
According to most art car artists, their car is never finished — there’s always more to be painted, glued or added on to their vehicle.Friday’s Art Walk saw many of the cars that will be featured in Saturday’s ArtCar Fest, which will take place outside of Obtainium Works on Pennsylvania Street. Vallejo is hosting the ArtCar Fest — now in its 19th year of existence — thanks to local artist Sherry Tobin, who helped bring the group to town. Cars with legos glued on, poetry painted on its sides, or Steampunk-themed vehicles are just a sampling of what will be featured for visitors.
“My idea was: What if more people in Vallejo made art cars and drove them every day?” Tobin said. “Then every day would be like the Mad Hatter’s Day Parade. So the whole purpose of this fest is to inspire more people in Vallejo to make art cars.”
Philo Northrup was one of the festival’s original founders in 1996, along with Harrod Blank and directed by Emily Duffy, and said the idea behind the festival was to feature art cars that artists drove everyday. Describing an art car festival he visited in Texas in the 1990s, Northrup said the focus there was on parade-centric cars that weren’t street legal.
“What we wanted to celebrate was the ‘daily drivers,’” Northrup said of the first event. “That’s a real distinction that our festival is really about.”
“In my day, your car was part of your identity ... Art car (owners) just wanted to make their cars just like them and want have it be (like) their personality,” Northrup said of art car owners. “The car is a very personal part of your life, you own it. ... As an artist, it’s really great to have a daily reminder that you are an artist.”
Ahead of the event, Tobin’s been encouraging locals to turn their cars into works of art — and it’s been working. Mark Martin, a neighbor of Tobin’s, transformed his car into a work of art and he’s been surprised at the reactions he’s gotten to his vehicle.
“Sherry Tobin was my inspiration,” Martin said. “I work at a school and people love it. I was always scared of making it my day-to-day driving car, but I get so many compliments and people just laugh when they see it going down the road.. and it’s just a lot of fun.”
Susan Jette’s ‘Vehicle of Enlightenment’ will also be on display and is credited as the first art car of Vallejo. Jette said she was first inspired by artist David Best and she uses her car to pay tribute to other artists.
“I pay homage on my car to all the other art cars that I know,” Jette said, ticking off some of the items she has on her car. “So I have an alien, a ladybug, I have yarn, rock n’roll, a zebra...”
MaryJane Etchegaray-Szalan, transformed her Volkswagen Bug last week, adding dragons and a dragonfly to her vehicle. She called the dragonfly her “totem spirit animal” and loved the reactions to her “new” car.
“The children, always (notice)!” Etchegaray-Szalan said, before laughing. “You’re driving and the kids are, right away, ‘Ahhhhh!’ ... When an adult does see it, I’ll get a ‘toot toot.’ And I’ll go, ‘Good.. Oh! Watch the road!’ Every once in awhile someone will get awful close to it and I’ll know they’re looking at (the car).”
Scott Alan of Laguna Beach has been going to ArtCar Fest since the beginning and has changed his car eight times “so far.” Alan remembered his first art car and said it was supposed to be a temporary thing, to cover up the awful paint job.
“I thought, I’ve been collecting art for years, I might as well drive it,” Alan recalled. “It was (supposed to be) a temporary paint job until I could afford a paint job, but it was so much fun that I could never drive a mundane car again.”
“It’s nice to see people smile when you drive,” Alan added. “Although when you have people riding with you and they forget they’re in an art car and they see people checking them out and they think they’re checking them out.. it’s the car. ‘No, he was making eye contact with me and everything!’ ‘It’s the car, not you!’”
“It’s what’s gotten me through all the hard times — being able to laugh about something,” Alan said.
Satruday’s ArtCar Fest events will happen at Obtainium Works, 510 Pennsylvania Street, from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m., with events at 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. For more info, visit www.artcarfest.com. To learn more about local art cars, visit Vallejo ArtCar Coalition at www.facebook.com/VallejoArtCars.