In the world of automotive art, there is no greater event than Houston's Annual Art Car Parade. These rolling sculptures are the stuff of dreams, or nightmares in the case of this goblin-esque 1984 Dodge Power RAM pickup (if you cheer loud enough the driver might shoot flames out its top). This year, more than 250 cars rolled through the streets of Houston.
Photo Credit: Oliver Bentley
Houston's NORML's Miss Marijuanica
Mike: Art and political activism are never far apart. The Houston branch of NORML, a nonprofit lobbying organization working to legalize marijuana, brought this thinly disguised Chrysler Sebring to this year's parade. Riding in the car (not pictured) was Miss Marijuanica, an alternative version of Miss America.
Elliot: Wow. Where does one even go with this? How about the White Castle drive-through window. Every day. Does anyone else find great irony with a police car sitting in the background of this shot?
Tribute to Flower Man
Mike: Roger Daltrey would be proud of this magic bus. Decorated with doll heads, Christmas lights, and strange eyeballs, the Tribute to Flower Man is covered with enough stuff to give any cheesy Italian restaurant a run for its money.
Elliot: If I was a little kid and my mom tried to put me on this bus, I would run so fast she’d have to issue an Amber Alert to find me. Therapy for the rest of my life? No thank you.
A condom with every pick up
Mike: Sponsored by the Association of Nurses in AIDS Care, “a condom with every pick up” promotes AIDS prevention. A shark face is painted on the giant condom on the front of the truck. I hope this doesn't give Spielberg any ideas for the next Jaws sequel.
Elliot: Are these guys serious? I know there is always the risk in traffic of knocking up the car in front of you, but c’mon, this is crazy. I’ll keep it safe, but I’m sticking with airbags and seatbelts, thank you.
Mike: Animal themed cars are popular at Houston's Art Car parade. In addition to this cute pup, this year's parade featured a giant chicken, a monstrous puffer fish, an anatomically-correct cockroach, a fire breathing dragon, and several others.
Elliot: Let’s just say that if someone gave this to me as a gift I’d call the Humane Society and put it up for adoption. Is that a nose on the hood or a body bag?
The Quest for the Holy Ale
Mike: No need for a beer run, this Art Car brings the party to you. In addition to the pull handles on the hood, this car features thousands of bottle caps, a St. Pauli Girl portrait, and two functional beer taps on either side of the vehicle.
Elliot: From what I’ve been told there are two times a year you do not want to be on the road: New Year’s Eve, and anytime this guy decides to leave his garage. Wild guess: MADD didn’t sponsor this one?
Mike: Covered in 75 pounds of recycled dentures and hundreds of real teeth, the ChewBaru takes the prize for the most grotesque vehicle at this year’s parade. I don't even want to imagine how the artist acquired all these materials.
Elliot: This car spawns so many questions. Who’s driving this thing? Hannibal Lecter? Do you clean this thing with a toothbrush or a sponge? When selling this, do you consult Kelly Blue Book or the Tooth Fairy?
Pinwheels for Peace at St. Stephen's
Mike: All this van is saying is “give peace a chance.” Pinwheels for Peace is an organization which promotes freedom from conflict by using the childhood symbol of the pinwheel. This vehicle was created by the students of St. Stephen's, a local Houston school.
Elliot: I’m down with bio-power, and this is ingenious. The sheer amount of wind created by laughter as this rolls down the street removes any need for the driver to touch the accelerator.
Mike: The music. Graceland. Velvet paintings. Elvis lives on in many ways. Now there is one more tribute to the legend: the hood of a Chevy Silverado. Long live the King!
Elliot: Cool Elvis airbrush on your hood, man. Especially the one on the left. Now I know why we can’t find Elvis; we haven’t been on the lookout for a lipstick-wearing middle-aged woman.
Mike: What makes an Art Car? There are really no requirements. If it can roll, and you think its art, then an art car you have. Such is the case for this highly modified lowrider.
Elliot: Is this kid’s pickup truck falling apart because that’s what domestic pickup trucks from 1991 do, or is this by design? If it’s by design, I’m sorry to inform you that you’ve already missed the Transformers II casting call.
Mike: If there was any doubt that the adage “you are what you drive” is true, then look no further than the Piecemobile. Created by Houston artist quilt-maker Kim Ritter, the Piecemobile is decorated with everything a quilt-maker needs: pins and pin cushions, scissors, buttons, and patches of material.
Elliot: Crayola just called, they said there’s a run on the world’s colors and I think I know the person hoarding them. Who commissioned this horse of a million colors? Dr. Timothy Leary?