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Art car enthusiasts gathering at Montana Folk Festival

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Mirrormobile by Bob Corbett and Renee Sherrer Photo by Harrod Blank MIR# 1
The Mirrormobile by Bob Corbett and Renee Sherrer will be on display at the Montana Folk Festival in Butte

Mirrormobile by Bob Corbett and Renee Sherrer Photo by Harrod Blank MIR# 1 (1) With the Montana Folk Festival’s theme this year being “The Culture of the Car,” festival director George Everett and the festival committee found it to be a great opportunity to reach out to art car enthusiasts, led by filmmaker Harrod Blank. Blank has done two films about this rare and unique medium. At least 12 art cars will be driven around Butte throughout the weekend.

Art cars are regular vehicles with some kind of artwork done to them or on them. Butte also had its very own car artist in Bob Corbett, who covered the exterior of his 1970 Oldsmobile with 694 mirror pieces in what he called, “not your father’s Oldsmobile.” Corbett, who was a good friend of Everett’s, died in 2008. The car was co-created by Renee Sherrer, who will be driving it this weekend.

Some of the other cars on display will include:

Blank is bringing his father Les Blank’s car covered with bird paintings titled “For the Birds.”

Blank said he got into art cars when he was in high school and has been involved with it since then. He said one thing he’s found during his time following the art car craze is that once it spreads, more people start getting into it because they come to understand that it’s possible. Even then it takes a certain type of person to make their vehicle into art.

“I think that’s how culture works,” he said. “If you don’t see something, you don’t know it’s a possibility. We’re so conditioned that our car has to be a certain way and even if you told me you’d like to have a car that was unique and showed something about yourself, if you really set forth to do it, it’s very difficult because you’d start thinking, ‘Oh God, what about the resale value of the car? If I glue turtles on my car who is going to want to buy it?’ and that stops a lot of people in their tracks. It’s a very fringe thing and we’re so conditioned to believe we can’t do this to our cars and that’s why it’s so on the fringe.”

The Radio Flyer car from  Bob Castaneda
The Radio Flyer car from  Bob Castaneda. Photo courtesy of Harrod Blank

Blank said while this is the first time having art cars associated with a folk festival, he said he thinks it’s particularly appropriate to have these cars in Butte. He added that anyone who might have an art car, they are welcome to come to him and have their car included in the display, also.

“Like folk music, which is non commercial handmade from the heart of people playing music, the art car is similar. It’s also from the heart … it’s a perfect match.”

Both of Harrod’s full-length documentaries, “Wild Wheels” and “Automorphosis” will be shown during the folk festival at St. Mary’s Church, starting at noon on Saturday and 1 p.m. On Sunday.

Blank’s father also was a filmmaker, best known for his portraits of American traditional musicians. Blank said being able to pay homage to his father at the folk festival is fitting as well.

Les Blank’s movies will be shown at the Butte Archives Auditorium starting at 1 p.m., on Saturday and Sunday, with Harrod offering a brief introduction on Saturday.
For more information on Art Cars or Harrod Blank, visit www.harrodblank.com

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