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Gallery of the Lube

   by Kathleen Block for Re-Invent a Work of Art (2013)

Inspiration Piece: Gallery of the Louvre

Inspiration Artist: Samuel F. B. Morse

Samuel Morse hoped his painting would capture the experience of entering the grand salon of the Louvre, for people who would never see it because photography was not yet invented, nor was transatlantic telecommunication. When he returned to America from France with his painting, it was a unfortunately a critical failure, and he turned his attentions to the novelty he'd brought back from France, the daguerreotype (soon-to-be photograph) and his own invention: Morse code.
My piece, Gallery of the Lube, is set in a near-future Detroit (which was once called "the Paris of the West,") where a visionary mechanic and artist, Sam Morph, has converted his auto-body/lube shop into a teaching museum. It is a destination for car buffs, creative artists, and those who want to experience a beautifully curated gallery in the wake of the dissolution of the Detroit Institute of Arts (which will hopefully not actually happen!). He modeled his gallery on Samuel Morse's painting because of his admiration for that man who attempted to better mankind through gorgeous artwork and technology. And then he added a car wash! Now anyone wanting help with an art project, or wanting to learn more about building cars, or just needing a car wash can come to the gallery and meet with Sam and his two assistants in gray.
I built the gallery from the cardboard box and the large piece of plywood. The frames of the paintings are rectangles I cut from the blocks of wood, some of the thin slices of wood, and some more cardboard. On the face of each frame I glued a piece of canvas, and drew a painting on with permanent markers. I made the people from the chavant oil clay, and painted them with acrylic paint. The sculpture I made from the white polymer clay, and it rests on a base of cardboard, wood, and the friendly plastic that I added some color to. The boy's go-kart is made of wire and paint, and the "Gallery of the Lube" and "Car Wash" signs are also wire and spray paint. The car wash brushes are made from two dowel rods and the newsprint shreds. You can twirl them with your fingers! The car is oil clay and wire, and has front and side windows made of the plastic bag the friendly pellets came in. And the suds from the car wash are glue, paint, and friendly pellets for suds. The car's license plate reads I <3 MB.
The paintings have myriad significance. They're a mash-up of: classic Louvre paintings, paintings currently housed in the Detroit Institute of Arts, pop culture references to cars, racing, and the city of Detroit.

The paintings!
The first wall, clockwise from the top left:
1. A NASCAR victory
2. A self-portrait of James Whistler that hangs at the DiA. I noted a strong resemblance between James Whistler and Dale Earhardt...
3. The Chevrolet symbol, upended. The painting that hangs in this location in Gallery of the Louvre is based on a painting by Jean Jouvenet: Descent from the Cross. So this is Chevrolet, Descent from the Cross.
4. A Delorean!
5. A painting of the Cadillac Ranch, the iconic art installation in Amarillo TX
6. A Model-T

The column of 4 paintings down the left corner of the room:
1. Edsel Ford, from the Detroit Industry fresco cycle by Diego Rivera at the DiA
2. A piece by British artist Ian Cook, who paints pictures of cars by using remote controlled cars as his brushes.
3. Another detail from the Diego Rivera piece at the DiA
4. A victorious car race winner

Now, the big wall, in rows from L to R, top to bottom:
1. ROBOCOP as Icarus in Matisse's Icarus
2. A reproduction of Gallery of the Louvre
3. A soapbox derby racer
4. Cha-Cha, from the movie Grease when she signals the race to begin
5. The facade of the Detroit Institute of Arts
6. Danica Patrick, female NASCAR racer
7. A version of Donald Sultan's painting Oranges on a Branch, but with traffic signals in the oranges
8. Green poster that says Detroit Hustles Harder, a popular saying in Detroit related to community pride in the face of economic problems
9. Richard Petty!
10. Guido Reni's painting The Union of Design and Color, housed at the Louvre
11. The logo of the Detroit Institute of Arts
12. The... Mona Lisa
13. The Daytona 500

The column of 3 paintings down the right corner of the room:
1. My friend Zack Distel, whose studio I made this project in. He also has a MB submission!
2. Nascar victory lane girls kissing a winner
3. A Ferrari dashboard

The right wall, clockwise from top left
1. Ricky Bobby, from the movie Talladega Nights
2. Herbie the Love Bug
3. The sculpture of Joe Louis' fist, displayed in downtown Detroit
4. The Mystery Build logo!
5. The Nightmare, by Henry Fuseli, a fascinating painting in the Detroit Institute of Arts

Sculpture- "Diana the Mechanic" (based on the sculpture referenced in Morse's painting, "Diana Hunting" from the 2nd century BC)

In Samuel Morse's painting, he painted himself in the foreground, leaning over the shoulder of his daughter. In my sculpture, Sam Morph is leaning over the shoulder of his grandson in a go-kart!

So... Cars and Detroit and stuff! This was such a challenging project.

The paintings!
The first wall, clockwise from the top left:
1. A NASCAR victory
2. A self-portrait of James Whistler that hangs at the DiA. I noted a strong resemblance between James Whistler and Dale Earhardt...
3. The Chevrolet symbol, upended. The painting that hangs in this location in Gallery of the Louvre is based on a painting by Jean Jouvenet: Descent from the Cross. So this is Chevrolet, Descent from the Cross.
4. A Delorean!
5. A painting of the Cadillac Ranch, the iconic art installation in Amarillo TX
6. A Model-T

The column of 4 paintings down the left corner of the room:
1. Edsel Ford, from the Detroit Industry fresco cycle by Diego Rivera at the DiA
2. A piece by British artist Ian Cook, who paints pictures of cars by using remote controlled cars as his brushes.
3. Another detail from the Diego Rivera piece at the DiA
4. A victorious car race winner

Now, the big wall, in rows from L to R, top to bottom:
1. ROBOCOP as Icarus in Matisse's Icarus
2. A reproduction of Gallery of the Louvre
3. A soapbox derby racer
4. Cha-Cha, from the movie Grease when she signals the race to begin
5. The facade of the Detroit Institute of Arts
6. Danica Patrick, female NASCAR racer
7. A version of Donald Sultan's painting Oranges on a Branch, but with traffic signals in the oranges
8. Green poster that says Detroit Hustles Harder, a popular saying in Detroit related to community pride in the face of economic problems
9. Richard Petty!
10. Guido Reni's painting The Union of Design and Color, housed at the Louvre
11. The logo of the Detroit Institute of Arts
12. The... Mona Lisa
13. The Daytona 500

The column of 3 paintings down the right corner of the room:
1. My friend Zack Distel, whose studio I made this project in. He also has a MB submission!
2. Nascar victory lane girls kissing a winner
3. A Ferrari dashboard

The right wall, clockwise from top left
1. Ricky Bobby, from the movie Talladega Nights
2. Herbie the Love Bug
3. The sculpture of Joe Louis' fist, displayed in downtown Detroit
4. The Mystery Build logo!
5. The Nightmare, by Henry Fuseli, a fascinating painting in the Detroit Institute of Arts

In Samuel Morse's painting, he painted himself in the foreground, leaning over the shoulder of his daughter. In my sculpture, Sam Morph is leaning over the shoulder of his grandson in a go-kart!

So... Cars and Detroit and stuff! This was such a challenging project.

 


Gallery