HomeCar CultureLifestyleArtists explore the car and its role in American culture

Artists explore the car and its role in American culture


‘The car is so much more than a machine that moves people from point A to point B. It is a symbol of freedom, an emblem of America’s pioneering spirit, a status symbol, a mark of one’s wealth, and sometimes, a sad substitute for a home or a temporary place to lay one’s head. In addition to driving (pardon the pun) the nation’s economy and commerce, the car has played an important role in American culture – high and low—making appearances in advertisements, pop songs, film and fine art.”

— news release announcing ‘Vroom Vroom Beep Beep’

Out West, by Beñat Iglesias López, oil on panel, 10 x 10 inches
Out West, by Beñat Iglesias López, oil on panel, 10 x 10 inches

‘Vroom Vroom Beep Beep” is a group exhibition by eight artists and photographers celebrating American car culture in a show running through February 24 at the Susan Eley Fine Art gallery on Manhattan’s Upper West Side.

Noting that an automobile usually is the second most-expensive purchase made by American families, and with 255.8 million vehicles registered, the artists realize that things are changing.

“Ride-hailing services like Uber, advances in self-driving cars, expansion of light-rail services in cities like LA and Miami (are indicators) to shifting the notion that car ownership is essential,” their news release reports.

The artists point out that The New York Times recently reported that younger generations may not consider car ownership a goal.

“In ‘Vroom Vroom,’ we take a look at the role of the car in a range of contemporary art, from the nostalgic depictions of vintage cars by Charles Buckley and Ruth Shively, to the paintings set in urban and rural landscapes by Beñat Iglesias López, and Victor Honigsfeld and the hyper realist cityscapes painted en plein air by Valeri Larko.

Green Car, by John Conn, photographic print, 24 x 36 inches
Green Car, by John Conn, photographic print, 24 x 36 inches

“The selection of photographs by Carolyn Monastra and Maria Passarotti plays on humor and irony and feature several self-portraits,” the news release continues. “Highlights include Monastra sitting in a sand trap, surrounded by sand toys, while her golf cart idles nearby. Passarotti offers us a curious image of a woman in her suburban kitchen gazing out of the window, while a commuter car sits in the driveway. A man, perhaps her husband, sits in the driver’s seat with a faraway look.

“John Conn’s 2015-16 series of photographs of vintage cars in Cuba reflect how the island nation is a time capsule for American cars, manufactured before the US embargo in 1960.”

The images on display in the show range in price from $500 to $22,000.

Larry Edsall
Larry Edsall
A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

Recent Posts