Reported By Holly Klemm
The Houston Artcar Parade, coming on May 12th will literally be bumper-to-bumper with every conceivable artcar and contraption. Many of these vehicles you have seen before, if not in person at least in a photo. But there is an artcar that will be there for first time that you probably have never seen.. Vanadu, Clarke Bedford’s Ford van will be coming to Houston for the event, all the way from the Washington, D.C. area.
Via Clark Bedford
Clarke’s drives Vanadu daily to his position at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, a Smithsonian Institution, where he is Conservator of Paintings and Mixed Media Objects. But if you haven’t been lucky enough to see it on Washington’s Beltway or at Baltimore’s Artscape Festival you have probably missed out.
Vanadu is a mobile assemblage as are many artcars. But one of the things that is special about Vanadu is that it is covered with metal automotive and architectural fragments that are bolted on. Because it is a daily driver (and in the North) it is constructed in a very practical and rugged way, using a lot of metal objects. On his website, Clarke explains that he didn’t weld objects on the van, as many artcar artists have, because he didn’t want to distort the metal or ruin the original finishes of the found objects he used. Having a penchant for the 30’s and 40’s, the van incorporates a late 1930’s grill shell, a galvanized steel kids’ sled from the 1940’s, chrome salvaged from a classic Pontiac, and a 40’s Pontiac trunk ornament. Add to that a some eerily glowing lanterns, a VW insignia, and old refrigerator parts and you have very unusual work of art. Clarke’s fine art background combined with his wry wit and sense of humor make Vanadu a real treasure..
Via Clarke Bedford
But that’s just the beginning of the wonder that is Clarke’s 1988 Ford van. It has been described as futuristic, Gothic and Steampunk, you’ll have to decide that for yourself. But the inside is a different story altogether. It is decorated in great detail to look and feel like a cottage in Maine. From the bent wood furniture to the handmade screen doors to the antique pictures, it makes you feel like you are in the north woods in the 1940’s. Clarke’s attention to every detail sends you back to another time and place.
So, if you are fortunate enough to be in Houston for this year’s Artcar Parade don’t forget to look for Vanadu and meet Clarke. Vanadu will be number 202 in the parade line-up. Don’t miss this opportunity to experience this wonder up close. And don’t forget to peek inside!
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