> What will the neighbors say?Nothing!
What will the Neighbors Say? Nothing!
- Isn't that what they usually say? Just Create  your  Artcar and Live!
There is nothing wrong with respecting the views of your neighbor. However, neighbors should not be allowed to intrude upon your legal freedoms and self expression. It is in-fact  their reciprocal obligation to respect it!  The instinct of Americans to love and cherish their neighbors has not been ignored by corporate America- it has become  their most important marketing tool. What would be sold if not for the American tradition of "Keep up with the Jones's"?  How many new cars would not have been sold were it not for that other American tradition of concern  for "what would the neighbors think?"

I have had parents refuse to bring their kids to my home because  of my art. Even my otherwise tolerant Lutheran pastor did not bring children to my house: "what would their parents think?" This is intolerable discrimination. We as cartists however, dont help matters by referring to ourselves in negative terminology such as crazy and wierd or silly.....We have to do our part as well. We have to pave the way for tolerance by refraining from intentionally upsetting and creating hostility. I remember college age cartists wanting to run through an antique car event just to irritate the car owners exhibiting there. They did not realize that antique car owners are our best friends and greatest resources when we are trying to fix our cars! Once I explained to them that my art was protecting the 1966 Catalina they became most supportive and helpful!

My good friend was forced to give me his perfectly good 1966 Catalina because of what his wife thought the neighbors might think of them for owning a newer Toyota while parking the old car next to it. Perfectly good cars have been taken to the dump to add to pollution and landfill simply because they were not looking like corporate America demanded they should look like. I think it is time for a change- if only to cut down on the waste.  Neighbors also do not say all that much! If neighbors harass and persecute, they are the ones who have to change. No one's personal rights and freedoms within the law should be at risk because of their choice to create and drive an artcar. I have personally lost jobs and opportunities. An artcar is like the color of one's skin- it is the skin we drive and is no different. This is why we can have no tolerance for those who describe artcars with bad words such as weird, strange, odd, silly.....These words only serve to encourage those who discriminate and persecute. 

Perhaps my neighborhood is different but, most of my neighbors say nothing beyond a few words concerning the weather now and then. In-fact it was only after I created Stickercar that they talked at all! Artcars connect with people and actually cause a sense of interaction to develop. Worrying excessively about what your neighbors think is also not in keeping with the American concept of "life liberty and the pursuit of happiness". The common good needs to  include elimination from intolerant acts and persecution for anything that is legal under the law.
Surely self expression is an essential  goal and right. Self limitation and confinement to styles and expressions promoted and sanctioned only by corporate America and elite sub-cultures should be anathema to all residents of a free society.

New Hampshire still promotes itself using a time honored American expression: "live free or die". While I would not recommend suicide I would suggest that this guiding principal should become more of a reality in America today and the freedom to create an artcar is an essential first step toward that reality.

In past times Americans were in awe and wonder at that which came from the new modern era assembly lines. They began to worship the wonder of the mass produced form. They enjoyed dancing the dance and, marching to the beat of the cultures created by the  corporate empires. Self expression was limited to a good wax job and car wash. (except in the cases of a few brave souls -generally teen agers who applied stylistically rigid custom paint jobs to their "Hot Rods")  Rigidly enforced  style was important. It gave order to American social identity in an expanding era. There was a time for that. It was new. Now, as we enter  the new century it is time to move on.  We can continue to wonder  at the mass produced form and new designs but,  we must try to move one step further to recognize that these designs are just the first step-the framework. These designs and forms are simply blank canvases provided for us to express ourselves. The manufactured object is now and should be the starting point for design. Manufactured goods are not ends in themselves.

An interesting manifestation of this recent trend is the expansion of craft stores. Such stores make manufactured items and component parts which are unfinished. One can furnish one's home with objects that enter the home as blank canvases upon which one  can exercise personal creativity and expression. So it is with the automobile in the 21st century. We have an opportunity to seize control of the canvas.

When one buys a new home the question asked is "how will you paint and furnish it?" the same should be said of the new car.

Car owners  can and must be encouraged to complement and extend  the work of the corporate designers with our own expressive artwork and individual visions. With confidence in our being and survival  we can break apart from rigid  nationwide styles to create a multitude of new soco/cultural entities those entities can find expression in our automobiles. We can do more than a good car polish and wash to extend and develop our own personalities and self expression.

As custodians of the artcar concept we must, however, be very careful with our new medium. It is all too easy to let ourselves create standards and nationally popular styles. It is too easy to think that we are being creative only to find that we are purchasing our creation from the marketplace of ideas rather than creating it ourselves. In America we see this in gardens and homes. All too often people look to magazines and stores for their inspiration. They rarely design a-new from the  heart.  Today as styles of artcar are starting to emerge we must remember to grasp our creativity firmly and resist selecting ready made ideas from the marketplace. If it is anything the artcar must be the very opposite of the ready made. It can not come "off the shelf".  Artcars are free spirits on wheels and must remain that way! 

Take up your freedom, act on it! Drive an artcar and live free! 

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Conrad Bladey ©1999, 2012

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