Where Have We Been and Where Are We Going?
Experience the Era and Celebrate America’s love affair with the Automobile
Let’s Hit the Road Again, the touring exhibition and companion book explores the car’s impact on American life and society and celebrates America’s love affair with the automobile.
During the first decades of the 20th century, the automobile transformed the way we live.
For the first time, people could now hop into their cars, hit the road and escape from the places and circumstances that bound them. The car gave people freedom – freedom to travel, freedom to explore, freedom to experience new ways of living.
The automobile transformed America — where we live, how we work, how we travel, what the cities and suburbs look like, our environment – all have been profoundly shaped by the car.
In Let’s Hit the Road Again artists from around the world have recycled discarded metal wheel coverings and hubcaps — and turned them into fascinating and sometimes controversial artworks.
Take a trip down memory lane and enjoy how 149 artists from the LandfillArt Collection have celebrated this unique era .
……… As long as art has existed, some of it has pushed people to look beyond their comfort zones ……. And the exhibition and book opens your eyes a little wider.
Artists have long used junkyards and trash heaps as source material. By taking something discarded, they turned it into something beautiful, compelling or provocative.
The artists represented in the LandfillArt Collection, have become a community encouraging and supporting the creative reuse and recycling of the earth’s resources. The artists have explored the potential of re-using materials – in their hands, workroom scraps, broken dishes, and even recycled paint have become art. They have turned the ordinary into the extraordinary!
With such a diversity of creative expressions and mediums, the artists created a body of work, that makes us pause, ponder, and plan to make a difference in our own world.
The following are a few of the surprises and stories that await you in Let’s Hit the Road Again
Explore the lore and popular culture that surrounds some of the iconic cars, and the well- known highways and byways. Several highways became outright legends on their own.
Often called “The Mother Road,” Route 66 became one of the most famous roads in the US. It originally ran from Chicago, before ending in Santa Monica in Los Angeles County, California, covering a total of 2,448 miles (3,940 km).
US 66 served as a primary route for those who migrated west, especially during the Dust Bowl of the 1930s, and the road supported the economies of the communities it passed through.
It was recognized in popular culture by both the hit song “Get Your Kicks on Route 66” and the Route 66 television show in the 1960s. The song “Get your kicks on Route 66.”became a monument to long-distance car travel..
Highway 61 North – known as the “Blues Highway,” rivaled Route 66 as the most famous road in American music lore. It was a major transit route out of the Deep South particularly for African Americans traveling north to Chicago, St Louis and Memphis.
The highway has a long musical history, being the supposed location where singer-songwriter Robert Johnson made a deal with the Devil for his successes. The road later gave its name to Minnesota native Bob Dylan’s album Highway 61 Revisited.
At its height, one in every six working Americans worked directly for the automobile industry, and Detroit was its epicenter.
Henry Ford in his own words……
“If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”
“Quality means doing it right when no one is looking.”
Cars of the Stars. The high end automobiles, such as the Cadillac and Mercedes, became status symbols and were popular with celebrities, and Hollywood stars.
By 1910, Cadillac was the first manufacturer to mass-produce cars with enclosed cabins. They invented climate control. By 1964, everything on your Caddy could be controlled by thermostat, the first vehicle to ever offer such a cool ride.
The fascinating story behind Al Capone’s infamous getaway car – a Cadillac – that was custom built for him. The gangster commissioned several armoured cars, but the most famous was a 1928 Cadillac – and thought to be one of the first cars to have body armour and bulletproof glass.
The Pierce-Arrow was a status symbol, owned by many Hollywood stars and celebrities. Most of the royalty of the world had at least one Pierce-Arrow in its collection.
Actor Sessue Hayakawa, from the film Bridge on the River Kwai, drove a custom-ordered gold-plated Pierce-Arrow.
In 1909, U.S. President William Howard Taft ordered two Pierce-Arrows to be used for state occasions.
Many television celebrities were used in car marketing.
One of the most successful was Dinah Shore . She was one of the first television celebrities whose name became synonymous with a product — and during the 50s and early 60s, she was probably most responsible for putting Chevrolet automobiles in the driveways of millions.
On her TV show she sang “the Chevy jingle” and the song became an anthem for the era; a tune approaching patriotic status. By 1962-63 Chevy sales alone were more than 2 million a year, and all of the General Motors in those years amounted to half of all vehicles sold in the U.S.
Groucho Marx was another who became identified with a car make. DeSoto sponsored the popular television game show You Bet Your Life from 1950 – 1958, in which host Groucho Marx urged viewers to visit a DeSoto dealer with the phrase “tell ’em Groucho sent you“, and to “drive a DeSoto before you decide“. The DeSoto was named for Hernando de Soto to symbolize travel, adventure and pioneering.
Why did Pontiac use an Indian as their symbol. The earliest Pontiac logos, show a side view of a Native American with a distinctive headdress.
Pontiac, or Obwandiyag (c. 1720 – 1769) was an Odawa war chief who led Native Americans in a struggle against British military occupation of the Great Lakes region.
Pontiac’s War began in May 1763 when Pontiac and 300 followers attempted to take Fort Detroit by surprise. They laid siege to the fort, where they were joined by more than 900 warriors from a half-dozen tribes.
America’s love affair with the automobile was most evident in the music of the era.
The Day Music Died ….
“So bye-bye, Miss American Pie, Drove my Chevy to the levee, but the levee was dry And them good old boys were drinkin’ whiskey and rye Singin’ “This’ll be the day that I die, This’ll be the day that I die.”
“Chevy to the levee” is from “American Pie,” which topped America’s music charts in 1972. Singer and songwriter Don McLean wrote it to mourn the death of three musicians in a 1959 airplane crash. Those who perished the “day the music died” included Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and Jiles Perry Richardson Jr., “the Big Bopper.” The song’s familiar chorus is now part of American pop culture.
“Oh, Lord, won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz.” –Janis Joplin
The Volkswagen Beetle is arguably the most recognized industrial product shape ever produced.
But more than that, it has endured for generations, becoming a part of many families’ cultural history.
The Jeep is the oldest four-wheel drive mass-production vehicles now known as SUVs.
“You know it’s important to have a Jeep in Los Angeles. That front wheel drive is crucial when it starts to snow on Rodeo Drive.” –Christopher Guest
Tail Fins and the Designers
With America’s passion for the jet age in the 1950s, the public was obsessed with the need to go fast.
During the 1960s American automobiles came to resemble the jet with it’s tail fins. Large tailfins, designs reminiscent of rockets, and radio antennas that imitated Sputnik were common, due to the efforts of design pioneers such as Harley Earl. So before the 1950s and 1960s were over, designers were adding fins to every car they could.
“Dad called General Motors designer Harley Earl’s designs “chrome-plated barges,” .. he said that, if left to his own devices, Harley Earl would put fins on a TV or refrigerator.” Raymond Loewy
Frank Lloyd Wright’s Vision of the Future
Frank Lloyd Wright had three loves: cars, architecture and the American landscape. His annual road trips to Taliesin helped him refresh his architectural perspectve and vision. And gave him a clear view of the country’s changing landscape, and how automobiles were transforming American society.
In his architectural projects, he designed many car-influenced structures that included a filling station, a self-service parking garage, a “paradise on wheels housing project,” and, of course, his Jaguar showroom in New York City.
For more information about the exhibition, see here. To schedule the exhibition or propose an exhibition site, please contact Shirley Reiff Howarth at firstname.lastname@example.org
The book, Let’s Hit the Road Again is now available and you cn see a full 182 page preview, with over 230 photographs by clicking on the photograph below: Order single copies from that preview by clicking on the shopping cart at the top of the preview page
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Thank you for your interest
Book Title: Lets Hit the Road Again
Author: Shirley Reiff Howarth
184 pages, 230 illustrations
ISBN: 978–0–943488-27-1 Paperback
ISBN: 978–0–943488-26-4 Hardbound
Published in the United States of America
Book layout and design ©2019 The Humanities Exchange / Shirley Reiff Howarth
Website: : www.humanities-exchange.org
Available from The Humanities Exchange, Shirley Reiff Howarth,
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“I pesently own a Chrysler 300, and each time I drive to work in New York City I pass the beautiful Chrysler Building I chose to create a hubcap showing antique Chryslers as well as the historic Chrysler Building.” — Susan Hammond