The rain was something of a damper on the eighth annual Artomobilia in Carmel’s Arts & Design District on Saturday, Aug. 27. That's because there were some car owners who decided against unloading their vehicles in the rain. In the end, however, Artomobilia went on mostly as planned.
After the rain, Carmel Artomobilia participant Scott Hall was busy wiping the rain off his baby blue 1960 Jaguar.
“I have a number of Jaguars,” said the 63-year-old Hall. “This particular car is known as the Queen’s Car, that the queen [Queen Elizabeth II of England] had. But it's a cool old car that you don't see. We call it our dinner car."
The Jaguar was parked right outside The Hoosier Salon Gallery. And Hoosier Salon artist Beth Clary Schwier was taking advantage of its placement to paint a depiction in oil on canvas.
“I was invited by the Hoosier Salon to come and paint cars in Artomobilia," she said. "We’ve got an Artomobilia themed show at the Hoosier Salon Gallery this month,” she said. “And I along with a lot of other Hoosier Salon artists are displayed in the gallery.”
Renowned automobile artist Bill Patterson was also on hand painting in front of the Hoosier Salon. And in the Hoosier Salon itself were a number of “Welcome Race Fans” paintings that were commissioned by the Arts Council of Indianapolis in celebration of the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 this past May.
But there was also a truck that was being painted at Artomobilia and it wasn’t even officially a part of the competition. It was a ’51 Ford truck, the truck-bed of which was being painted by Gavin Goode, 40. A former Marine and actor—among his credits are Syriana
and Walk the Line
– he used the money he made from acting to start Semper Fly Studios, a mural painting company based in Carmel.
“We do murals on wood, brick walls, a floor,” he said, taking a break from painting the truck bed. “Any surface you can think of, that’s kind of what my company does. We apply art to anything.”
“This was a farm truck that I bought from a city in Southern Indiana,” said Goode of his vehicle. “It was green and had a Chevy vent on it. So I took it and I knocked the vent off with a sledgehammer. Then I sprayed this with airplane stripper. Then I would spray it, sand it down, spray it again, sand it down, clear coat it. Then I hand painted the vent, and made the fenders."
Goode was able to park his vehicle where he did because he knew the Lazzara
family, which owns the mostly empty lot where he was parked as well as Bub's Ice
Cream and Burgers across the street. The mostly empty lot on the corner of Monon and Main will soon be developed into one of those multiuse complexes becoming increasingly common in Carmel. This one will house ground level retail, office space, town homes for sale, and a high-end steakhouse.
Another counterpoint to the high-end collector cars and high-octane sports cars available for oggling was a set of two Volkswagen Beetles on display on Main Street, the two door economy car alternately known by the name "Bug" or "Punch Bug."
If you are of a certain age you may recall shouting out "punch bug" to your friends whenever you saw one of these vehicles on the road. That's because in the mid-70’s the Volkswagen Beetle was just about everywhere. While it’s rare to see them these days, there were two of them on display at Artomobilia, one manufactured in 2001, the other manufactured in 2003. Both were manufactured in Mexico.
Edgar Ibenez, 34, was the owner of these two vehicles, one of which he bought in Cuernavaca Morelos, two hours south of Mexico City. He had driven from that city all the way to Carmel, IN. in the spring of 2014.
“I left Cuernavoca Morelos on a Thursday and I arrived here on Sunday, Easter around noon,” said the Mexico-born Carmel resident. “It was a great experience. I went through lots of rains. The hottest experience was going through Texas. Because these are air-cooled. They don’t have air conditioning. So that was a long trip. I crossed over from Laredo, to Nuevo Laredo, Texas. And it was sitting a little bit low because there was a lot of Mexican cheese, bottles of Tequila, I had a lot of stuff from Mexico that I brought over the year and a half that I lived there.”
The Volkswagens were manufactured in Mexico up to 2003 largely because they were used as taxis in Mexico City.
“In 2002 the Mexican government didn’t allow any more of the two door cars to be taxis. So the sales dropped on the Volkswagen,” said Ibenez. “And they stopped making them.”
Across from these Beetles on Main Street was a 1960 Ford F100, the exterior of which was painted on the outside with the logo of the long defunct Railway Express Agency, the forerunner to UPS and FEDEX. “I did that as a Tribute to my grandfather and my father,” said the wheelchair-bound Dan Distler, 58, whose father and grandfather both worked for the Agency.
His vehicle, which he uses for personal transportation, is a unique blend of old and new.
“My situation is I got put in a wheelchair do to health issues [a condition similar to MS] about ten years ago,” he said. “And I’ve been collecting cars, restoring cars for about thirty years. And once I got put in a wheel chair, I thought, now I’m not going to let this stop me.”
Distler, who is an electrical engineer, used that skill set to design a vehicle that he could drive.
“So once I started doing measurements and looking for equipment available that was on the market,” he said. “Nobody makes anything at all for vintage vehicles as far as handicapped equipment. So I went out what was on the market and then I found a truck that it would all fit in. Then I customized everything so it would fit together. And I actually wrote the computer program that controls everything. It’s all controlled off a key fob. I push the button the back door comes down, and I can get in there.”