I appreciate automobiles but I have never been a car nut. My own vehicle is a box on wheels called a Honda Element and I’m perfectly happy with it. Basically, I need something that will get me where I’m going in comfort and carry my stuff. Since I am a musician, that stuff includes guitars, amplifiers and sound equipment. The outward beauty of a car, truck or SUV is quickly overridden by cargo space and loading ease in my mind.
But in another time, another place, another life, I could have easily been seduced by the
lines, interior and sheer elegance of an automobile. That revelation came as I went through the Frist Center for the Visual Arts’ Sensuous Steel Art Deco Automobiles exhibit. On display in Nashville through September 15, 2013, the works of art that are automobiles will turn anyone’s head. Conceived during the Art Deco period of the 1920s and 1930s, these rides of a former lifetime bring a black and white era into vivid color in 2013.
Songwriter Victor Mecyssne cleverly laments in his Dear Old Dad that cars today look like orthopedic shoes, saying you have to “squint real hard to read the names and you can’t tell a Chevy from a Subaru.” I agree with him. The cars in this exhibit remind us that there was a time when cars were dreams on wheels. It was a thrill to catch a dream-ride in my mind in a sleek 1933 Pierce-Arrow, perhaps on the way to a speakeasy for some illegal rum and a little hot jazz.
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Text and photos copyright 2013 by Les Kerr.