Sunday, February 28, 2010

Sunday Supper: Diner Placemat Beats the Odds

Almost fifty years old, this paper placemat has yet to see a maple syrup stain. Tape, yes, food, no. Click pic to see in detail.

C O L L E C T I O N — A thin paper diner placemat from the sixties has survived the ravages of time relatively unscathed. I can remember seeing it for the first time, at some small diner my parents stopped at on a summer vacation. I can't imagine not spilling anything at all at the age of 7 or 8, so I can only assume my father got a couple fresh ones when we left, always ready to foster the love of cars in me even more, lol. I remember him quizzing me off of this placemat, since I was by that age, already pretty well-versed in old cars. I was stopped in my tracks by the red 1903 Ford. A) I didn't realize there was a Ford before the Model T, and, B) I didn't know there was a Model A before the '28 Model A. I remember thinking that automotive history wasn't going to be easy," lol.

The cars, clockwise from "1:00" (top right). Text from captions on placemat:

• Yellow 1913 Chevrolet. Second year of Chevrolet production. Produced 2,999 cars in initial year, all of same model. $2,150.00

• Red 1908 Stanley Steamer. A popular and powerful early car. One of 124 makes of steam cars made in the U.S. 20 hp. $1,500.00

• Green 1910 Cadillac. Won famous Dewer trophy in England for its precision manufacturing. 

• Blue 1911 Ford Model T. 15 million were produced over a 19 year period. Prices ranged from $850 in 1909, to a low of $290 in 1924.

• Green 1912 Woods Electric. Clean, odorless and silent. 100 miles to one charge. Top speed 100 m.p.h. $3,000.00.
NOTE: "Wow. These stats are fine 100 years later, if they're true. I can't imagine the boxy 'telephone booth' bodystyle as pictured, ever reaching 100mph. The brakes of the time would have had a hard time coping also, lol. The 100 mile range is also interesting for 1912—current electric cars are in the same ballpark."—casey

• Red 1903 Ford Model A. One of first assembly line cars, 2 cylinder. 8 hp. Cranked on side. 2 speeds forward, 1 reverse. $750.00

• Gold 1908 Locomobile. Won 4th Vanderbilt Cup race. First American car to outclass foreign entries. 120 hp.

• Green 1909 Thomas Town Car. Highly regarded luxury car. Winner of famed New York-to-Paris race, via Siberia.

• Red 1908 Buick "Model 10" Rumble. Featured mother-in-law seat in rear. 4 cylinder. $900.00

• Blue 1903 Oldsmobile Curved Dash. America's first mass-produced car. Used steering tiller. 700 lbs. $650.00

When is a Park Avenue Not a Buick?

Scan (from 30 year old hastily -developed  film contact sheet) of a "resting" '62 Cadillac Park Avenue. This is the same private collection of junked luxury cars I would visit in the early eighties as I've posted elsewhere in this blog. This photo shows off the lower skeg fin really well. Introduced in '61, this lower body sculpting balanced the upper fins beautifully. As had been the custom since 1959's fins were clipped in 1960, '62 fins were slightly lower than those in '61. Click pic to see the patina up close, lol.

C O L L E C T I O N — When is a Park Avenue not a Buick? When it's a 1962 Cadillac Park Avenue, a sub-model in the de Ville lineup. This Park Avenue was a short-deck 4 window sedan to use Caddy's words of the time. The name had also been used before by Caddy, on a concept car from '54,

Caddys for the past several years had come in 4- and 6-window sedans. The '59-'61 4 window bodystyle, was the famous 'flattop' roof, with pencil-thin roof pillars and a massively wrapped rear window with an overhanging roof. For '62, the 4 window grew wide C pillars, in an industry-wide trend towards the contemporary formal Thunderbird/ Galaxie rooflines which had really caught on with the public. Incidentally, the Coupe de Ville adopted the same formal roof style, as opposed to the might lighter and airier 'bubbletops' of the past three years.

The second part of the equation that made a Park Avenue separate from other 4 window Series 62 and de Ville sedans, was the shortened rear deck and overhang. The Park Avenue was a full seven inches shorter than the regular de Ville, on the same 129.5" wheelbase, all of it lopped off behind the rear wheels. This concept had been introduced the year before in the base Series 62 lineup, called the Town Sedan. Caddy execs surmised buyers in the city might prefer a slightly shorter, easier to park version of their new Cadillac. For the next year, a companion short-deck sedan in the slightly posher de Ville series, the Park Avenue was introduced. The short-deck PA was made in 1963 as well, but then was dropped after dismal sales. Apparently, in cities of the Swinging Sixties, size really did matter.

For a good rundown of the '62 Caddy lineup, I found this by googling:

Sunday Morning Politics—1951: Loyalty Files. . .

Click to read the pro and cons of making public the Loyalty Files gathered on Americans in the late '40s and early '50s. 

C O L L E C T I O N — "Battle of the Week" from summer 1951 edition of Quick magazine, a now-defunct pocketbook-sized pre-tabloid supermarket-type publication. Quick published short articles about the Hollywood stars of the day, TV shows, popular news stories, and sports athletes-the cover has Joe DiMaggio and Jackie Robinson on it. This political "battle" was whether or not to "open up the Loyalty Files" on fellow Americans. This article appeared a few years before the televised "McCarthy Hearings' on anti-American activities in 1954. Everything about these quotes is disturbing!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Supercharged V12 Packard: You Give Me Fever. Saturday Night Fever.

"If I can't have you, I don't want no-body, Baby." Click on pic for a better view of this Patrician's purposeful poshness!

C H O P — One of my older chops in which I bring back a long-dead car company, Packard. Virgil Exner created a series of revival cars in 1963 for Esquire magazine, including a new Stutz, Duesenberg, and Mercer among others. This is a link to a page I found googling, with good material about Ex's revival cars:

This is my contemporary top-shelf Packard, a supercharged V12 pillarless luxury coupe. Reviving the Club Coupe nomenclature, this coupe would be part of the Patrician line, a 'senior' Packard in classic parlance, and would be part of the broader twelve cylinder lineup known as the Twin Six. Twin Six refers back to Packard's founding grandiose pre-WW1 days and it's first twelve cylinder automobile. Bona-fide stars such as You Give Me Fever Peggy Lee, would flock to drive this newest incarnation of America's finest car. Well, if she wasn't dead and all. If you can find one, ask the man that owns one. Leno would own a special edition Big Dog Garage-built version with 700+hp.

Described as contemporary but not faddish, I'd say that it picks up from the large luxury coupes of the seventies, as if downsizing and fwd had never happened to the automotive world in the '80s. The base photo was a last-gen CLK press photo, but not much of it remained, lol. I revived a lot of cues from various Packard periods, including the classic tall 'oxen-yoke' grille surround, forward-thrusting speartip on the beltline, the suggestion of 4 separate flowing fenders and the full length brushed aluminum rocker panels, so evocative of the last mid '50s East Grand Boulevard Packard. I even made sure the wheel centers had tiny red hexagons on them, one of Packard's oldest styling touches.

This is the car that would be polished slavishly and used for that special Saturday night grand entrance to an event you really didn't want to attend . . . but you'd look, um, classic doing it. A supercharged V12 underfoot, sucking up Hybrids left and right, might swing the night your way. : )

B T W :

Pontiac-based Stutz—Custom cars only an extrovert like Elvis could love.

C O L L E C T I O N — Most of the styling of Exner's Stutz revival from this Esquire series, ended up being used on an actual automobile, a Pontiac Grand Prix-based 'custom.' In it's day, it was quite popular with Elvis and the Rat Pack and Liberace. You might as well have called it the Las Vegas Special. This is a black and white poster of the 1970-era Stutz. The interior is barely changed from the Pontiac donor. Notice the 2 different rear end styles. The exposed tire version is much more like Exner's original design. Though blessed with a stunning prototype and design sketch, I've always felt the actual car failed to live up to it's lofty expectations. The donor car was always a bit too obvious.

The second trunk version, interestingly enough, is very much like what the '74 Riviera would sport, the year the boattail was sunk in favor of a slightly retro formal look.The slightest hint of a classic separate trunk was combined with wide formal C pillars and standard opera windows to make the post-boattail Riv a bit tame in comparison with it's immediate predecessor. 

A still-life with the Stutz poster in the background. I've mentioned elsewhere in this blog, that as a discipline, I take at least 25 digital photos every day. I'm always setting up shoots. It's not like I lack for props. : )

For Deja—or Deja Vu? Children's Rocking Chair Updated for the Next LIttle Princess

Vintage children's rocker dates back to the early fifties and had seen it's share of wear and tear through three generations of child's play. Click image to see all of its details better.

O N   W O O D — Another of my furniture revamps. This small child's rocking chair from the early '50s had seen a few generations of my friend's family's children come and go. It had also been 'redone' several times, lending a soft, thick, chunky look to the paint, scratches revealing 'interesting' paint choices through the years, lol. I was remaking this chair for a 4-5 year old granddaughter of a great friend, so I definitely went girly girly here. Well, in my own way—I'm more of a peach or apricot than a Barbie Pink type o'guy  : )

The chair was stripped down to the wood for an even 'canvas' and then after priming, I started by painting flowers. The chair was then painted in several layers; flowers, squares of colors, striping, stipling, some of which I eventually sanded off to reveal the underlayering.  I bought premade wooden letters in the little girl's name, D-E-J-A, afixed them to the back top slat, and gave them their own paint treatment.

The seat was just a piece of wood, but looked like it might have had a padding once. Again, I went the premade route, and bought a beautifully feminine silk-covered, goose-down-filled pillow for the seat. It was fit for a princess, but one a princess could grow older with and still appreciate. I carefully undid the fabric seams on the back and after removing the wooden seat from the chair, upholstered it with this down and silk concoction. The results were pretty spectacular if I do say so myself, lol. Clearcoated with 6 coats of polyurethane, this is one family heirloom that just might not need redoing for quite a while.

Click on each image to enlarge.

Old Tools (aw, stop snickering)

Tools on a Porch, 2009

O N   W O O D — This piece uses a digital image I shot on my porch one afternoon. I borrowed the steel rake and a pitchfork from a friend to do some early spring gardening, and they were casting some great afternoon shadows on the wooden floor. Measuring 24 x 24 inches on a plywood base, I think I've captured the repetitive and geometric shapes found in all of nature, and a sense of the fracturing and healing inherent in all of our lives.

Dino Dresser an Eyeful; Jurassic Drawers

Dino-Mite! for fellow viewers of TV Land. . . 

O N  W O O D — Creating visual pieces as I do on flat wooden boards, it wasn't a stretch to go 3D. I like to create unique looks on furniture also. Created for a friend's young son, this is a distinctly dinosaur themed 6 drawer dresser. This is a photo of the piece very close to being finished. You'll notice I worked in my patchwork painting style, along with scanned printouts of various dinosaur renderings I found. I'm especially happy with the way the 'skin' turned out. I found a very closeup photograph of some reptile skin, and enlarged it to wrap around the drawer surrounds and add a great look to the piece. Gold leaf paint was used on the drawer pulls and the entire piece received several clearcoats of polyurethane for durability and strength.

Friday, February 26, 2010

They Said I Was Crazy. Part 265.

Chop of a hypothetical fiberglass protoype H330GTB SWB recently rolled out in the sun for an executive meeting at artandcolour headquarters. Click pic to see all it's shiny plastic goodness. : )

C H O P — When I first posted this Ferrari Hybrid chop a few years ago, at whatever forum I was in at the time, AWCC?, MT?, most fellow posters called me crazy. They said that Ferrari would never build a hybrid. News reports now filling the webwaves as I type this, tell of the upcoming 599-based Ferrari hybrid concept to debut at the Geneva show in the next coupla weeks. Yes, a hybrid Ferrari, at least in concept form.

Of course, the real one will look nothing whatsoever like my chop, lol. I envisioned such a car as a small, lightweight-yet-awesome handling clean and green sportscar. Much as the V6 Dino anchored the bottom of the Ferrari line back in the 'day' this model would achieve it's pace and grace (to borrow Jaguar's words) through light weight and a balanced drivetrain, despite the hybrid bits and pieces and heavy batteries. Apparently the real one will look like a 599-badass in every way in other words! Can't argue with that decision.

Bumper-to-Bumper Cruise Night. On My Desk.

D I G I T A L   P H O T O S — Sometimes I just like to gather a bunch of my scale model cars together in 'dream' scenarios and shoot photos. Doesn't everyone? This night I emphasized the fifties, with a '57 Studebaker Golden Hawk just barely peeking in from the left, red kustom '57 Fairlane next to it, and a charcoal Eldorado convertible on the right. Behind them can be seen '57 Lincolns side-by-side. Looming larger in the background, in soft focus, is an actual full sized chromed hood ornament from a '52 Packard. It seems to be cast brass, and weighs a ton. 

It's the pale gold '57 Lincoln in the second row that is the actual focus of this image, fabulous finned Ford in the foreground not withstanding, lol. A cream '49 Buick Roadmaster convertible (Rain Man) can be seen in the distance, left, along with an out-of-scale violet '59 Cadillac Coupe de Ville. A light-colored '67 or '68 Mustang fastback lends a definite Cruise Night vibe to the image. Antique Japanese ivory and bamboo knick-knacks stand alongside scale model cars of all vintages.

On a Pedestal

'11 Hyundai Cantata sedan, courtesy artandcolour. Click image to see in greater detail.

C H O P — Hyundai/Kia is a on a roll these days, not only in design but in sales and marketing too. Each new car by the company shows more flair and engineering capabilities. It's exciting to see a company do its homework and prosper.

This Cantata is based on the new '11 Sonata. I found a wallpaper image of it and was struck by the fact the car was sitting on a small pedestal... Besides changing the Sonata into an Elantra-sized car, I played around with the background, adding an image of one of my yard's flower gardens, lol. I really like the way the larger Sonata's lines translated into this smaller sedan.

Summer Visitors

D I G I T A L   P H O T O S — Gardening is another of my longtime passions. Last summer I grew some thistles that attracted a whole new clientele of visitors to my gardens. Besides this Tiger Swallowtail butterfly, a pair of Hummingbirds flitted by a few afternoons as well.

And since it's snowing right now, the end of February, I thought it would be good to look at what's not only in our past, but in our future too—our near future—the next spring and the summer growing season! 

I try to shoot at least 25 digital photos every day, part of my discipline I guess. I file them away, and have thousands of ready-to-use images for my art. If not used in their entirety, or as a focal point, they're sampled into the collages to add depth. In the warmer months, my gardens give me plenty of objects to shoot to fill those 25 slots.

Hybrid bearded Iris. These have been in the ground for 6 seasons. They've naturalized quite well and I've divided them twice. The blooms are close to 6-8 inches tall.
A Tiger lily as seen from the ground, looking up at the canopy of full summer leaves above. I 'saved' these Tiger lilies a few years ago. The little private road this house is located on, is very deeply canopied in the summer. Hundreds of Tiger lilies would sprout up every spring, only to fail to thrive and never bloom. I dig up a dozen or so every spring and move them to the yard in the sun where they grow 4-5 feet tall.

Foxgloves as seen from a low vantage point. I love these biennials, although they haven't naturalized in this garden as easily as they did in my family's homes.
Close view of a hybrid Lily. This is from 2 years ago. The plant is about 8 years old, and now gives off at least 50 blooms a season. Last summer, just before the first bud popped open, the deer ate every single one of the burgeoning buds! I didn't enjoy a single bloom last year from this variety.
The front yard 3 years ago. I crave the green right now! Click each image to enlarge.

Good Morning, 1923

O N  W O O D — Though I have no way of knowing what time of day this portrait was taken, it says 'Good Morning' to me. This is one of my grandmother's early 1920s portraits, taken at the Indian Point House in Stony Creek, CT, ca 1923. I've found literally hundreds of negatives of her work, tucked away in candy boxes and envelopes at the bottom of boxes or old drawers. I'm scanning them and finding absolute treasures of the period.  She took photos only as a hobby, and as far as I can tell, rarely printed the negatives. Such a shame, because she had a real way of bringing out the emotion of a scene. The details picked up from her relatively crude box camera are amazing too.

This piece, 23 x 32 inches on plywood, is one of a series of six I did a few years ago. I printed the portraits out 6-8 different ways, and then cut them all up and reassembled them on the wood backgrounds. Some have paint and/or a glaze finish. In this series, I wanted to preserve the original work while staying true to my sensibilities too. They all have at least 5 coats of polyurethane, sanded down between coats for a smooth finish. I also sand the pieces before adding the polyurethane, giving them a well-worn and warm patina-like appearance.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Shock New Crossover Coupe Has Only Two Doors! (I need that new sarcasm glyph)


C H O P — In a retro move sure to shock the automotive audience right out of their Eames lounge chairs, the newest Teutonic crossover coupes come with, wait, drumroll please, only 2 doors. In the States, three drivetrain choices will be available, including a turbo 4 at the bottom, a full hybrid all-wheel drive mid-ranger, and a twin turbo DI 6 at the top—the new X4/t4, X4/h and X4/t6.

The rear hatch is powered and opens in a unique manner: the rear glass slides up and over the roof, and the painted portion of the tailgate powers down and inside the body, resting totally out of the way, leaving a wide open aperture for luggage. Kudos to anyone that remembers the full sized 1971-76 GM wagons' clamshell tailgates. In those cars, the rear window was powered in all versions, with the tailgate manually lowered unless optionally power assisted. I can't think of an earlier powered rear hatch/tailgate on a production vehicle. The idea wouldn't become popular for another 20 years. In the case of this X4 however, the rear glass slides over the roof, not inside it. Chop based on X6 of course!


B T W :
I N F L U E N C E S — These two Bimmer chops use 'floating' backgrounds. I grew up looking at car brochures, probably the earliest reading material of mine. It was a big thing in my family, every September, to go see the unveiling of the new cars. The brochure art of the sixties was at a zenith I'd say. My '64 Tbird catalog is large format, heavy stock and features not only onion paper in the front, it has a cloth-type art paper cover evocative of the Landau vinyl roof. The interior photography is all highly stylized and saturated with colors. Pontiac was still using artists to paint their new car advertising, Buick used illustrated interior art. Oldsmobile, later in the decade, placed cars on plain backgrounds and feathered in a setting to suggest how many activities and good times could be had with a new car. I guess I was pretty influenced by the artwork in those PR pieces, and I'd say my chops reflect that aesthetic much of the time.

A more obvious use of this sixties feathered/floating motif is in this early chop of mine, the Chevelle Camino, a shortening of Chevelle El Camino of course.

Can't you just hear the opening theme for Hawaii Five-O right now?

1961 Lincoln Continental in Repose

O N C E   U P O N   A   T I M E — Close to 30 years ago, there was a private collection of fifties and sixties luxury cars, left rotting on several country acres. I would drive over there often, just wandering around taking photos. No one ever bothered me, and no one ever vandalized the cars. They have since been taken away, the area sanitized into suburbia. I'll post these now-vintage photos once in a while of that very cool place, so many years ago. This is the face of the seminal '61 Lincoln Continental, the only year of which to have this divided bumper/grille, the purest form of the shape that would last a decade. 

$1.19 Car of the Week #1-Porsche 914

Click to see lifesize

C O L L E C T I O N — I like to peruse the "accessories" aisles in the local grocery store, you know, the ones with all the gadgets, and markers, and batteries, and paper, and duct tape and toys. While pretty much curbing the 1/18 and 1/24 cravings lately, I'm a sucker for an accurately scaled, relatively obscure production car rendered in Matchbox/Johnny Lightning size—which I'm pretty sure is 1/87. This week I found an early Porsche 914, with stock-appearing wheels (small hubcaps and trim rings) painted head- and taillamps (one of my 'musts'), and the 914's optional exterior group, with the black vinyl B pillar/hoop. This is exactly the type of small car I like. It fits all my current criteria, and it was all of $1.19. I bought two so I can spread the joy to someone else someday.

A T   L E A S T   T H E   D O O R S   W E R E   C L O S E D  — I've ridden in an original 914 just once. I was in junior-high, and was spending the afternoon with a friend at her house, sneaking looks at  "Everything You  Always Wanted to Know about Sex, But Were Afraid to Ask,"a mega best-selling book of the day, lol, but not one found in the home I grew up in. Her father, a bit of a local celebrity being the weatherman on the local TV station, had just bought a new, and very orange, 914. It was a base model from what I remember, with the painted B pillar and hoop. When he asked if I'd like to ride in the Porsh, I dropped the book in a New York second. He squeezed his daughter and I in the passenger side of the almost-three seat bench/bucket affair, and we took off around town, the little 4 cylinder engine not particularly noteworthy in any way. No  seatbelts were used, no airbags were in sight, the driver was chain-smoking Luckys, and the car didn't have any impact-absorbing bumpers. I'm here to say we all made it home in one piece and lived to tell the tale. It was the last time I saw that book, too. Maybe eBay. . .

C H O P — A somewhat tongue-in-cheek concept of a modern-day 914. Adhering strictly to period cues, while working with a contemporary body, often results in a slightly anachronistic yet, more-times-than-not, endearing chop. This little Porsche has that "Please bring me home" sort of puppy appeal to it.

It Must Have Been a Really Slow News Day

Like an opening scene for Bonanza . . . Click on clipping to read

C O L L E C T I O N — Even for 1905, this must have been a quiet day in this small shoreline town! The idea that a horse got away from its owner, didn't cause any damage to anything and STILL made the news, must have amused the owner of the horse: my grandfather or one of his brothers. Wasn't this the opening scene in many western films and TVshows, lol?

I scanned this item out of an old newspaper I found packed in a box. I'll often go through old family boxes and find items of interest to use in my art in some way. This would be cool printed out fairly large and used as a neutral background in one of my collages on wood. My grandfather would have been 17 in 1905, and his 3 brothers would have been slightly older and younger. 

The Gifts of Charles Sanborn
15 x 28 inches on hardwood. 

O N  W O O D — This portrait is the same grandfather from the 'wild' horse story above, this time in 1923 at the age 35. In this piece, I've surround his portrait with images of items from his home, and in a broader sense, all the gifts he passed down to me. There are real vintage 2 cent stamps used in this piece. He sent quite a few postcards back home from Europe when he was in WW1, and several of the stamps he had used on them have dried and fallen off. I thought it was appropriate to use his own stamps surrounding his portrait. He died 25 years before i was born, but I like to think he's enjoying looking out from that vantage point in the photo again, perhaps looking out at the person taking the photo, his fiancée, my grandmother. In a way, i guess he's looking out at the world again, too. I wonder what someone who died in 1942 would think about the world in 2010? Like all photos on this blog, click to enlarge.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Don't Say Cheese Either

O N  W O O D — No One's Looking.  This is one of my favorite period portraits by my grandmother. Taken ca 1921, rather than anyone "smiling for the camera," no one is looking at the photographer at all. You can see crushed oyster shells at their feet-they were right on the edge of the harbor in Stony Creek, CT, on the lawn of the Indian Point House, a long-ago hotel on the Connecticut shoreline. The little girl is my mother, and the couple are good friends of my grandmother. This piece is 31 x 15 inches on 2 joined antique boards, and won an award at a state juried show a few years ago. 

What I try to bring to all of my work, with my paint and paper treatments, is the sense of memory. Memories come and go; some are strong, some are weak; some are vividly in color and stay that way, and others fade away to a patina of warmth; some are ruined with age, some hang on for dear life and make it through the other side. My pieces tell a story, but that story can be the viewers memories that are jogged by my work. This little girl could be any little girl, the sense of period and time belong to us all.

Not Anytime Soon: Sporting, Elegant, Luxury Hatches

C H O P S — The Bentley Continental Mulsanne T3 is a sporting Grand Touring car, capable of high-speed transportation for 4 beautiful people, plus their luggage, for a weekend in Gstaad. Interestingly, I chopped this 5 door GT a couple of years ago, long before it was revealed the new Grand Bentley would be named Mulsanne. This chop is based on the current Continental/Flying Spur, not the huge new namesake.

Another über expensive hatch that won't be built, is this Aston Martin DBS Longroof. I can never remember if the term is Shooting Brake or Shooting Break, so I called this the Longroof, lol. Aston has a long history of sporting semi-wagons, and they just showed that Lagonda crossover recently, so maybe this isn't all that far-fetched. I would love to have a GT like this with a modicum of luggage space. I could get into driving my art around in the back of this—the ultimate Reliant Scimitar!

Portraits: the Life behind the Face

Andy, 1980

O N  W O O D  — I find portraits fascinating in the same way I find biographies fascinating. I'd rather spend time reading about an actual person's life than read a novel. I'd rather look at art that features a human being in it, than a pretty landscape. Not that there is anything wrong with landscapes, lol, I just find myself drawn to the people in the images and what I could possibly say about them that's not obvious. I have a 'leg up' on most of the images I use, I only use personal negatives/prints/slides that I've inherited, so I tend to know something about the people in them. In some cases, especially the antique negatives from the early 1900s -1940s, I may not know the faces, but I can guess the setting etc. I always try to bring something of these people's thoughts and lives into the piece, filtered through the way I see things of course!

In this case, Andy, 1980, I not only shot the photo, I was specifically taking a portrait of my best friend. This image was taken around 1980 (honestly who can remember their past in specific years, lol), on a road trip from LA to San Francisco—for the trivia nuts, we rented a gray Corolla btw, which was an upgrade from their usual subcompacts. We stopped in Ojai for brunch one morning, and this is where the photo was shot, over coffee and a crossword puzzle. I knew Andy for more than 20 years. At times we were roommates, at times we lived on different coasts. When we both found ourselves in NYC, he living and working, and me commuting and working, we hung together outside of the office all the time. I'd crash on his couch, or we'd stay out all night in the clubs trying not to get into too much trouble. The NYTimes crossword puzzle became our inside pursuit. Learning the city through subway rides all over, became one of our hobbies. Back in our 'office' days, each of us always found the Watts line as soon as we found our desks, so we could talk to each other daily. I've always called Andy the brother I should have had. He died shortly after my Mom died, about a decade ago and nothing's ever been quite the same.

With this portrait, which hangs in Andy's Mom's house now, I painted and pasted our friendship through a geometric series of squares such as those used in crossword puzzle patterns and the older new york city subway systems' tiled walls. 

Saab's Future May Look to the Past

The once and future Saab 9-3 five door?

C H O P S — With Saab's sale to Spyker just about complete (and in the news so often), future plans have been bandied about in the press. Most reports suggest that besides the ready-to-roll 9-5 and 9-4, Spyker will replace the 9-3 at its earliest convenience. The clean-sheet design might include 3 and 5 door versions, historically the most significant of all 99/900/9-3 models. The chop above shows the current 9-3 as it would look as a 5 door. Isn't it a natural? Long after I chopped this 5 door, I almost deleted it from my Photobucket chop gallery, mistaking it for a misfiled original photo! Click all photos to enlarge.

Another rumor mentions the on-again off-again subcompact 9-1, with lines evocative of the original highly aerodynamic 92 models. Though only offered as a teardrop-shaped coupe, the original 2 stroke chopped into quite a striking roadster (above), especially with it's polished, cast aluminum windshield surround/A pillar, more than fifty years before Rolls-Royce would offer one! : )  

C O L O R I Z A T I O N — One of the original 92 coupes showing off it's front suicide doors. This was originally a black-and-white press photo. When I found it online, it struck me as such a surreal Scandinavian setting I had to save it. I boldly colorized it, lending it an even more Die Valkyrie-Meets-Sunset Strip look. The car itself wasn't chopped at all. For a 60+ year old design, I'd drive one today. I bet some people would find it futuristic still. The aero body is said to have had a coefficient of drag of just .30, very good for the '80s, let alone the late '40s. (stat according to Wiki:

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Not on Recall List; Execs Testify in Congress Today

C H O P — The best part of fake cars is that they rarely, if ever, get recalled. Toyota's execs are testifying in Congress today about their company's recent spate of recalls, and they are all breathing a sigh of relief that my chops aren't on their recall lists, too.

Pictured above is the Corolla's new 5 door bodystyle in top-line trim, the revived SR label. In this newest application, the SR6, the 6 refers to their new 6 speed automated dual-clutch transmission. A bunch of detail changes have been chopped into this Corolla model, including rwd proportions signaling a new platform. They all add up to a pretty cool, sporting high-end look if you ask me, and a great nod to the crazy-fun rwd Corolla SR5s of the past!

B T W :
I N F L U E N C E S — I've always admired 4 door fastbacks, +1 if they're equipped with a hatch, +5 if they're the sporting or avant garde versions. The Rover SD1 comes to mind from the '70s for the former, and almost any '70s Citroën, the BS, GS, the CX, fills the latter niche. The first Lancia Gamma Berline was full-figured fersure, but still a beautiful form with sophisticated details. Going back a bit further, the Austin "Landcrabs" intrigued me as a child. Going back even further, the early 50s Nash Ambassador had a gorgeous aerodynamic fastback bodystyle. Even the lowly post-war Chevys had a fastback option, the Fleetline, until 1951. Not big sellers then, I find them the best looking of that series—with the exception of the first pillarless Bel Air of '50. I'll take mine in pale gray with blackwall tires and fender skirts.

"Retired" Clapboards' Next Chapter

O N  W O O D — Reading Between the Lines. Vintage clapboards are used for this piece. Antique images from the 1920-45 period include family photos and friends, while contemporary digital images of antique books are also worked into this collage.  I've also used paint, graphite, silver foil, printed bar codes, and polyurethane. 24 x 15 inches on four joined clapboards.

Flying Buttresses Hide Luxury Car Secret: It's a Hatchback!

C H O P — Gadzooks, Batman, the MKZ Sportback model ushers in a new era at Lincoln: The luxury hatchback. The C pillar is raked back from the sedan, and the rear window is slightly tunneled into the hatch. While not as overt as GM's '66-'67 intermediates, Dodge's '68-'69 Charger, Ford's '71-'73 Pony cars, or even the classic long-lasting Jaguar XJS, the look is distinctive and the extended sail panels allow the cutlines for the new hatch to disappear. 

This new addition to the lineup includes a power-operated rear hatch, triple-glazed rear glass and a second powered separate 'trunk' lid for smaller items. The hatch also includes a second interior rear window, that is engineered to stay down as the hatch is open to prevent dust and noise from entering the interior. This interior window locks flush against the exterior hatch at the touch of a button. 

Sportback models also benefit from the brand's new powered rear coach doors, borrowing a term from Rolls-Royce; suicide doors in colloquial parlance. This new feature of Lincolns and Mercurys adds wide-opening power rear doors with electronic 'nanny' devices built into their soft- and hardware to prevent any unwanted openings once under way. To see them in action is to love 'em; don't underestimate their value as street theater. There is more buzz on the street about these powered side doors than there is about the rear hatchback itself. That might be Ford's plan all along given the average American automobile buyers' historical apathy towards hatchbacks.

Eco-Boost 4 and 6 cylinder petrol engines will be available at launch, with TDi and Hybrid models joining them in Spring.

B T W :
C H O P   T R I V I A  —  Even though this appears to be such a big change, once the rear pillars were stretched, and the roof lowered a smidge, the chop was basically done. Of course, I went on to play in photoshop a few more hours, changing the doors and embossing the nameplate on them per a suggestion from my fine-fellow-chopper 2b2, and tweaking this and that. For a change, I chose to keep the blank backgrounds of the original photos, better to show off the changes to this little chopped Lincoln.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Leaner and Greener or Bolder and Golder?

Kinder and Gentler Supercar or . . .

C H O P S — The new SLS Gullwing is a pretty interesting vehicle. I always love the idea of a new über Benz, but for some reason, they always seem to leave me cold. While i love the gullwing doors, the new front graphic and the drivetrains, the body of the SLS seems awkward to me. There needs to be more glass area for one thing. The classic 300SL of the 50s had a C pillar window, and looked all the better for it. The SLS's C pillar (B pillar technically?) is just very inartfully rendered. I 'corrected' that in both chops. The SLS Hybrid, above, not only has a proper greenhouse, but i shortened the hood by about a foot. The entire car seems to be ready to hit the road to prove its 50mpg hybrid capabilities, while still garnering the front row by valets. 

On the other hand, the South Beach special edition below, leaves the basic SLS body shell intact. Leading the way is a brushed satin aluminum grille surround, extra strakes are added to the headlights and the now blacked-out roof pillar. In this application the pillar would be glazed with black-tinted glass, and there would be a vertical cabin exhaust vent for those additional chrome strakes to cover. The paint is a special extra-metallic/pearltone gold with several clearcoats. It fairly glistens in South Beach's daily sunfest.

. . .  Shinier and Flashier special edition?

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Feel This. It's like Buttah!

O N  W O O D — Mid-Century Modern. This piece is 20 x 11 inches on pine, with appliqued vintage linoleum and paint, graphite and polyurethane. Not only do the grid and the various shapes remind me of Saarinon's exhuberance and Dior's New Look, the colors are the two- and three-tones of Detroit's finned wonders from that fabulous period. These are the colors that filled the parking lots of drive-ins and bowling alleys and whisked along suburban turnpikes and city boulevards. 

The feel of this piece is velvet, and i'm not speaking metaphorically. I encourage people to run their hands over all of my work. This piece is so smooth and burnished, it could be velvet. I love it when life happens!

At Least It Wasn't the General's Car

C O L L E C T I O N — Just scanned this the other night from a slide. My dad was in charge of the Motorpool at the Stuttgart Army base in Germany in the mid-late '50s. I guess it was his job to research and document crashes that involved base cars. This is a then-new '55 Chevy sedan in poverty-spec 150 trim. The windshield molding is black rubber, and there is no trim on the rear quarter panels, signaling this was the 150. 210s and Bel Airs had considerably more chrome trim. I'm sure government fleet models were overwhelmingly bottom-of-the-line as well. This Olive Drab sedan, being a Military Police issue, was most likely equipped with the brand-new-but-destined-for-greatness, small block V8. On the other hand, i can't imagine there were many high-speed chases on Army bases,so it may have been delivered with the also-classic Stovebolt inline six, making around 105hp with ample torque (it would have been nice to have the '53-'54 Corvette Blue Flame version of this 6, with triple carbs and 150hp). Unfortunately, this is one Tri-Five that probably won't be showing up at any local Cruise Night.

Is There Still a Tent Option?

C H O P — Ain't gonna happen now that Chief Pontiac has been sent packing, but this is what could have been the Aztek II. 

This is the epitome of a fun chop. The original Aztek was unanimously assailed for it's er, um, interesting style—pre- and post-facelifted versions. The brand-new Acura ZDX seems to be taking over that same reputation, perhaps most kindly expressed as WTF? So there was only one thing to do—mash 'em together. My Aztek II is an oh-so-current awd crossover coupe, with classic 'Tek cues such as the 3 spoke wheels, triple door strakes and the quad grille intakes. No word on whether or not the camper option, with the fold-out tent, would have been carried over. You can't help but smile when you see this mutt!

B T W :
A N  E A R L I E R   C A M P E R   O P T I O N — The Kaiser Traveler (above) of the late '40s–early '50s, America's first hatchback sedan, had a rare camper and tent option. Both my father and his brother owned 1948-50 Kaisers. My dad owned the 2-tone Traveler in the photo above and my uncle's was the monotone sedan. Both cars looked pretty much the same on the exterior; the Traveler's rear driver's side passenger door was welded shut at the factory so the spare tire could be mounted on it, but looked normal from outside; there was an additional cutline that went up and over the rear lift-up glass; an extra handle on the trunklid to pull down the tailgate section. The cutline over the rear window and the handle on the trunklid to pull down the tailgate are apparent in this photo.

Though considered somewhat 'blobby' by later periods' sense of aesthetics, Kaiser-Frazer was one of the first postwar designs to feature full-through fenders, or slab sides. No discernible front or rear fenders were pressed into the sheetmetal. The '49 Ford also featured a full envelope body like this, but GM and most other mfrs hedged their bets with faired-in front fenders and still-visible rear fender seams/bulges.

Kaisers were priced like Oldsmobiles but equipped like Chevys, which made them a bit harder to sell. They were built like tanks though, which appealed to my dad and his brother. They were also large cars with a wheelbase of about 123 inches. Full sized Fords and Chevys of the period were only 115 or so. K-Fs came with Continental L-head 6 engines of about 100 hp. The Frazer part of Kaiser-Fraser, sold cars with the same basic chassis, and very similar bodywork, in  upmarket trim, including one of the few postwar 4 door convertibles.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Don't Blame "Texting While Driving"

V I N T A G E   O O P S — There was no date on the back of these snapshots, but i'd guess 1939-40. The crashed car is a '37 Buick Convertible-quite the collectible today. The shiny black car in the background of the top photo and at the left in the bottom photo, is my uncle's '35 Ford V8 coupe (also collectible today), which I know he drove before the war. Click to enlarge. The vintage detail is cool, including some slight dents in the Fords trunk. You'll also see signs for indoor parking, groceries, liquor-the more things change, the more they stay the same.

B T W :
A  B E T T E R  V I E W — The '35 Ford Coupe from the scenes above. There is only 1 windshield wiper, above the chrome-framed windshield, and there are two horns. I'm not sure if this is a Standard or a Deluxe coupe-I think it's a Deluxe with a missing wiper. This example is a 3-window coupe, a 2-3 seater with only a front bench seat. It was one of the most streamlined of the '35s, really a beautiful car, imo. Flathead V8, mechanical brakes and buggy springs as they say in the biz. One of Henry's finest.