Gas prices and the ozone be damned, there is just something erotic about a Charger that you’ll never get from a Prius: masculine muscle, feminine curves, and complete freedom, at least until you can’t afford to fill up the tank anymore, or you get stuck in traffic.
Painter Cheryl Kelley is the best thing that ever happened to car shows. As she notes below, “The first thing that I am drawn to is the beauty. I find myself getting lost in the reflections of beautiful cars when I stop at traffic lights. People honk at me when the light change.” Kelley studied at the University of Houston. Her current solo show “Chrome” is currently up at Lyons Wier Ortt in New York. All images © Cheryl Kelley, courtesy Lyons Wier Ortt, all rights reserved.
Let’s start with the car. Where does your love for cars begin?
I love to drive—fast. I played in the dirt with Hot Wheels cars when I was a small child and was fascinated by their curves. I remember in the ‘70s announcing to my family that I would drive a Corvette someday. In middle school, my imagination got away with me and I pretended to have a Corvette and frequently made fake appointments on the telephone to have my fake car worked on by Carney’s Corvette Service. Now I do own a ‘77 ‘Vette, and have had it serviced at that very shop. They think my story is funny.
What are the first tenets of car design that come to mind for you? Beauty? Sex? Function?
The first thing that I am drawn to is the beauty. I find myself getting lost in the reflections of beautiful cars when I stop at traffic lights. People honk at me when the light changes. They are, of course, sexual, and an obvious expression of a sexual nature. The function of the car is less important to me as an artist. Some of the most beautiful cars never touch a road, but are carried from car show to car show.
You’re in Texas and Texas is car country, though it’s getting expensive to fill up the tank. What are we losing when gas costs so much?
We are losing the joy of driving, the joy of big-engine cars for speed’s sake, and the idea of cars as art. Most cars on the road in this part of the world are all alike. People choose cars for gas mileage or cargo space. It’s just boring.
Take a painting like “Bentley.” Is it the image of the car (the idea of a Bentley) or the car itself that attracts you?
Honestly, I did not know it was a Bentley at first. I was mesmerized by the way the subtlety of the shape created such dramatic reflections. I had to ask what car it was.
What are you working on now?
I am starting a series of car paintings with abstract backgrounds, painted on aluminum. This is for my show in Houston, Texas, in January 2009. I am really excited about it.