Monday, September 10, 2012

Artcar Palooza in Marietta, Georgia

Every Labor Day week-end for the last twenty-six years an art show called “Art in the Park” has taken place on the Square in Marietta. Already in 2010 I wrote a post on this show, see here This year again we spent several hours at the show. But for the first time this year there was another show called “Artcar Palooza”™ on an adjacent street. There were several customized vehicles, artfully decorated. (Click on picture to enlarge and click twice on collages.)

The first “artvan” on the right had ears, eyes, lips, glasses and multicultural women faces.

Some of the “artcars” had painting all over and some had a little decoration and were quite sober.

I had to come close to some other artcars and study them well to see or read everything on the vehicle, such as the pick-up truck below.

More details can be seen in the collage below (click on collage to enlarge.)

I had to touch the next vehicle – it was quilted.

It must have taken many hours to get the quilting to drape just right over the car – a minivan, I guess.

The artcar below from Texas had a figure painted on his hood and a skeleton head.

This one was decorated with jewels and

its hood was covered with sparkling beads.

The car below had another little car on top driven by a mermaid.

Another had a flag color theme.

An artcar with “love” on the hood was near a camouflaged military artcar.

There were some decorated items for sale as well.

Then when needed decorated art-toilets were available too.

We then went to the regular art show but I took so many pictures that they will have to go in another post. Then on the following Wednesday, September 5th, we drove back to Chattanooga in Tennessee. We had been there in June and stayed on the Delta Queen, the historic steamboat. For some reason our room was not cleaned at that time and we received a complimentary stay. Since my husband is going to hospital for a procedure on September 13th we decided to go ahead on this little trip. I’ll have many pictures to show later. Unfortunately there was no television on board and little computer access so I was not able to watch the Democratic Convention. I did read about it in the newspapers though.

I read the “Truth-O-Meter” on the newspaper and saw that there had not been as many misleading claims as in the convention two weeks ago.

I did read online that most of the advisers for Mitt Romney, the Republican candidate, are part of former vice-president Cheney neo-con team and President Bush pro-war advisers, such as John Bolton who was a strong voice for invading Iraq. I do not think that this country needs a rerun of the last Republican administration (for example vice-presidential candidate Ryan had voted with Pres. Bush 94% of the time) and start a war with Iran or place Russia back in a cold war climate. President Obama has not achieved everything he promised but it seems that most of his efforts to pass legislation and bills to help the economy were obstructed by the Republicans, even when they had been previously in favor of the bills. It is easy to oppose and block all bills that could have helped and then declare that the current administration is a failure.

What is more dangerous, I believe, is the landmark case of Citizens United which overturned the existing ban on corporate and non-profit trade associations to fund advertisements for the election or defeat of candidates. Through these trade associations money has been pouring in from overseas (a lot from Saudi Arabia.) Millions have also been spent from secret corporate cash on misleading advertisements that the public believes. Oil industry lobbyists have funded the political campaign of 86% of freshman Republicans and then had them sign a pledge to oppose all climate regulation. All this looks pretty corrupt unfortunately.

I also spent some time reading, in French, from the text of “Democracy in America” written by the French political thinker and historian Aléxis de Tocqueville. One of the comments to my last post mentioned that the term “American exceptionalism” had been first said by de Tocqueville and not by Joseph Stalin as I stated. It took me a while but I found the passage. De Tocqueville had said then that America was “exceptional.” Actually he had said the same thing later about Algeria. Aléxis de Tocqueville (1805-1859) was a French man who spent nine months traveling throughout the United States. He came in 1831 when he was only 26 years old and went mostly in Boston, New York and Philadelphia. His two-volume study “Democracy in America” is a classic on the American people and their political institutions.

Aléxis de Tocqueville in 1850 by Théodore Chassériau

But reading the passage in French, then in English, I saw that what he had said was certainly not complimentary. He used the term “exceptional” in the first part of the second volume, chapter IX “La situation des Américains est donc entièrement exceptionnelle, et il est à croire qu’aucun peuple démocratique n’y sera jamais placé. Leur origine toute puritaine, leurs habitudes uniquement commerciales, le pays même qu’ils habitent et qui semble détourner leur intelligence de l’étude des sciences, des lettres et des arts ;” etc. (translation "The position of the Americans is therefore quite exceptional, and it may be believed that no democratic people will ever be placed in a similar one. Their strictly Puritanical origin-their exclusively commercial habits-even the country they inhabit, which seems to divert their minds from the pursuit of science, literature, and the arts-“ etc.

De Tocqueville did not follow the thesis of “American exceptionalism” (l’exceptionalité de l’Amérique) but meant that the country found itself in a unique situation. He went on to say: “En même temps que les Anglo-Américains sont ainsi unis entre eux par des idées communes, ils sont séparés de tous les autres peuples par un sentiment, l’orgueil. Depuis cinquante ans on ne cesse de répéter aux habitants des États-Unis qu’ils forment le seul peuple religieux, éclairé et libre. Ils voient que chez eux jusqu’à présent les institutions démocratiques prospèrent, tandis qu’elles échouent dans le reste du monde ; ils ont donc une opinion immense d’eux-mêmes, et ils ne sont pas éloignés de croire qu’ils forment une espèce à part dans le genre humain.” Translation: “Anglo-Americans are not only united by these common opinions, but they are separated from all other nations by a feeling of pride. For the last fifty years, no pains have been spared to convince the inhabitants of the United States that they are the only religious, enlightened, and free people. They perceive that, for the present, their own democratic institutions prosper, whilst those of other countries fail; hence they conceive a high opinion of their superiority, and are not very remote from believing themselves to be a distinct species of mankind.” So I don’t think American politicians use the word “exceptional” in the way de Tocqueville did.

Vintage postcard of the family castle of the de Tocqueville (where descendants still live)

I think that de Tocqueville was right about the culture of money being strong in the American soul but I do not believe that this has diverted their minds from science, literature and the arts. How can this be said with such writers as Mark Twain, William Faulkner, Henry David Thoreau, Emily Dickinson, Margaret Mitchell, James Baldwin, Edith Wharton, Ernest Hemingway, T. S. Eliot, Henry James – just to name a few.

How about American inventors such as the Wright Brothers, Thomas Edison, Nikola Tesla or an innovator like Walt Disney? How about musicians? Aaron Copland, George Gershwin or all the jazz musicians like Louis Armstrong? There is a multitude of American artists such as Mary Cassatt, Winslow Homer, Albert Bierstadt, Frederic Remington, Louis Tiffany and so many others.

House by the railroad by Edward Hopper, American 1882-1967

I may not agree with American exceptionalism, as in “manifest destiny,” but I think that there have been and still are exceptional talents here.

Illustration by Coles Phillips, American 1880-1927


OldLady Of The Hills said...

That ART SHOW of decorated cars is so imaginative and wonderful. It was great to see all the pictures you took----so much talent using simple things...This is such a wonderful idea.

I agree with your words about America. I wish you had seen some of the Democratic Convention because there were some really wonderful speeches....Maybe they are on YouTube or some other place...
Wishing your dear husband much good luck on the 13th, my dear...!I hope ALL goes well...!

DJan said...

I wish I could have attended that art car show. Very interesting! I especially liked the quilted one, and the jeweled one. I agree with everything you said about American exceptionalism, Citizens United, and the direction of our country.

BTW, I just saw the most wonderful French movie, called "Intouchables." Based on a true story, I checked the book (translated into English) out of the library, by Abdel Sellou called "You Changed My Life." Wonderful!!

Frances said...

Oh Vagabonde, only you could begin a post with extraordinary photos of outrageously decorated cars, and find a way to segue into a discussion of de Tocqueville and exceptionalism.

Merci beaucoup, mon amie!

Best wishes to you and your husband.


Perpetua said...

From artcars to de Tocqueville via the Americal presidentialelection - what a journey a single post of yours takes us on, Vagabonde, and always illustrated so beautifully and appropriately. Your blog is a real joy to read and a mine of information.

Ginnie said...

Exactly as Frances said, only you could segue so effortlessly from artcars to De Tocqueville...and the state of America! I just wish we had been able to see you and talk about all of it!

In the meantime, please let us know how the doctor's appointment goes on the 13th. Our thoughts and prayers are with you!

Sam Hoffer / My Carolina Kitchen said...

Those cars are just amazing. Think of the work involved.

Wishing your husband all the best with his appointment. I'll be thinking of you both on the 13th.

Hilary said...

Wow.. those cars are incredible. How I'd love to see that in person but you've given me the next best thing.

Down by the sea said...

I have never seen cars decorated in that way before so exceptional especially the quilted one!
Sarah x

Dee said...

Dear Vagabonde, like you, I do not believe in a "manifest destiny" for the United States, nor do I accept the de Tocqueville's theory that this country will not devote itself to science and the arts. But he is so right that we have pounded into us from an early age that Americans and their country are superior to others. This hurt us greatly during the Bush administration and once again, like you, I would so hate to see a repeat of that.

As to the cars: my favorites were the quilted one and the beaded-hood one. Thanks also for introducing to us so many salient points and interesting happenings. You always make me think and I like that. Peace.

bayou said...

I agree totally with Frances' comment: you are unique! And I love these quilted and painted cars,( I don't believe one could take them out on the road here)as I love those toilets :-))). Will be thinking of you tomorrow.
I love the sentence: l'orgueil des américains. Written long ago and still so true. But the rest you wrote is true, as well. And I do hope for the Americans and for the rest of the world, that Obama stays and continues correcting the errors of the previous government.

rhymeswithplague said...

I agree with you when you say, "I do not think that this country needs a rerun of the last Republican administration" but neither do I think that this country needs a continuation of the current Democrat administration either. I will be voting for the lesser of two evils. Hopefully Messrs. Romney, Ryan et al will not govern after the style of George W. Bush.

It's good to see Marietta Square again after moving to Cherokee County nearly nine years ago!

Elaine said...

I love the artcars, especially that quilted one. It must have been a fascinating show to see. I have to agree with you on the analysis of the presidential election. If only the partisanship could be tempered and our leaders could actually accomplish something.

I'll keep you and your husband in my prayers tomorrow. I know it will be a long and difficult day for you.

joared said...

These cars are certainly colorful and fascinating. Always interesting to see the many ways people choose to spend their time and what provides them such pleasure.

I continue to be intrigued with your commentary, and follow-up with Eng. translation of De Tocqueville relative to his use of "American exceptionalism." I wholeheartedly agree that American politicians are not using the word "exceptional" in the way de Tocqueville did.

I agree also with his observations about our having a strong culture of money, but think he may be partially correct that many minds have been diverted from science, literature and the arts.

I don't know where the ever-increasing (at least in my lifetime) American obsession of so many with celebrity fits in exactly, but maybe de Tocqueville was aware of the beginnings of that cultural aspect even in his time. Perhaps, I'm wrong,but I've thought our American culture exceeds the European cultures, generally, in that regard -- an increasingly less discriminating aspect which I think of as not one of our better qualities.

joared said...

Thinking of you and your husband this date. Hope all has gone well and his recovery from surgery is uncomplicated. Do take good care of your own health during this challenging time.

Thérèse said...

J'aime beaucoup la dernière image comme si celle-ci remettait tout en place gentiment. Rien n'a été dérangé!
My only wish: no re-run of the Republican gang...
Je suis justement en train de lire (je ne l'avais jamais lu le deuxième volume "de la démocratie en Amérique" en français. I wish I had the translation on the side.
Quel joli billet intéressant.

joared said...

I just read your comment left on another blog. I send positive thoughts your way for you and your husband -- Hugs!

Kay said...

It was so much fun seeing all the art cars. Thank you for posting all the fun photos.

I didn't know all that about Romney. I most certainly would NEVER vote Republican after what they've done, but some people have very bad memories of what Bush and the other Republicans did to us.

Jeanie said...

As always, a thoughtful and in-depth post that starts one place and takes us to so many others! The car show was a photographer's dream and the second half, spot on in your observations, at least from my point of view!

I haven't posted about this yet (right now, I've just started the Netherlands after a few posts about Romantic Country, my current art projects and a few other things.) But I have a new cat-friend. She came to live with me last week. Elizabeth Cosette (after the queen and also after Victor Hugo's orphaned and adopted character in Les Mis.) Makes me smile!

Fennie said...

The Americans are certainly an exceptional people; but then so are the French, the British, the Chinese, the Russians. Each though is exceptional in its own way so that to its own eyes it doesn't appear exceptional at all.

A thought provoking post, Vagabonde!

Emm in London said...

What a fascinating post on so many levels! Let's start at the beginning... I love those art cars. Well, I like the art trucks and vans the most as they seemed to have the most character.

It must be such a daunting time with the elections coming up. I hope Obama wins but I'm not American so I don't get a say! Then again, I vote in the UK but I've given up voting in the South Africa elections.

Your discussion of Tocqueville and his intention in using the term "exceptional" was just intriguing. I agree, you cannot judge an entire population based on the actions of its politicians but especially when so many Americans have been altruistic, inventive, creative, charitable and humanitarian.

I had to laugh though, at your inclusion of Nikola Tesla. I had not realsied he had gone to America. It is just that he is a Serbian hero, he is on their money, airports and buildings are named after him and they are considering making a film about him. Given how anti-American Serbians are (on account of the 1999 NATO stikes), I wonder what they'd think of him being called American!

Shammickite said...

A quilted car!! WOW what a fantastic idea. I love it. That must have taken a lot of careful measuring and sewing!!!! And imagination.

The decorated cars are lovely.... something a little different from the vehicles normally parked on that street.

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