SHREVEPORT NATIVE & HOUSTON ART CAR DRIVER WHEEL INTO TOWN TO PROMOTE FUNKY ART AND WILD CREATIVITY!
Shreveport shoppers will likely do a double-take when they see a car completely covered in purple fur parked in front of THE MOPPET SHOPPE from 10 a.m. to 12:00 noon, Saturday Nov. 2, 4840 Line Ave. This community event is free and open to the public.
Houston author Cathey Graham Nickell—a native of Shreveport—will present her children’s book, Arthur Zarr’s Amazing Art Car, at the Line Avenue children’s clothing store for a unique book signing event. Art cars, which are plentiful in Houston (but not so much in Shreveport!), were the inspiration for Nickell’s first story, illustrated by Bill Megenhardt, also of Houston. Nickell will bring it all to life by arriving at her hometown’s main drag along with a real art car this weekend.
Nickell’s second book, Yazzy’s Amazing Yarn, launched this year and is illustrated by watercolor artist Emily Calimlim of Houston. Yazzy’s Amazing Yarn also shares a playful outside-the-box message about outsider art—which Nickell explains is “the kind of folk art that you cannot hang on a wall.” A fairly new (and little-heard-of) craze called “yarn bombing” inspired this second book.
PENELOPE is the name of Elizabeth Gwynne’s whimsical art car, inspired by the 1958 novelty song written and performed by Sheb Wooley: The Purple People Eater. Underneath all that purple fur and silicon glue is a 2016 Hyundai Veloster. Gwynne explains that—like Arthur Zarr, the main character in Nickell’s book—she has acquired a whole new group of friends in Houston and beyond, all thanks to her wacky art car.
Wondering what an art car is? An art car is a vehicle that has had its appearance modified as an act of personal artistic expression. Art cars are often driven and owned by their creators, who are sometimes referred to as “cartists.” Most art car artists are ordinary people with no artistic training. They’re largely self-taught and self-funded, though some mainstream trained artists have also worked in the art car medium. Most agree that creating and driving an art car daily is its own reward. And if, like Gwynne, the art car is the owner’s primary or only vehicle, they are what’s called a “daily driver.”
Gwynne’s purple art car—Penelope—is also a multiple award winner! She won The Orange Show’s Best Daily Driver in the 2018 Houston Art Car Parade, third place at the Greenville, Texas Art Car Show in May 2019, and the 2019 Brian Bryan Award from the Houston Art Car Klub. What’s more, Gwynne herself said “I do” at the 32nd Annual Houston Art Car Parade festivities this year, when she married Kenneth Gwynne, also of Houston. That’s right… AT THE PARADE!
Nickell’s story is a little bit different, because she doesn’t even own a decorated vehicle! A few years ago, while driving through Houston traffic, she was zapped with the creative idea to write a book for children about art cars. In 2016, Arthur Zarr's Amazing Art Car became a reality. Today, Nickell presents her books in front of school children throughout Houston and beyond, having done more than 70 author visits to date. Through her author presentations, she spreads an artsy message about writing, publishing, creativity and inspiration. Nickell holds a journalism degree from Baylor University and a Master of Arts from LSU-Shreveport.
While in Shreveport, Nickell will deliver five presentations to students throughout the day from 8:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Friday Nov. 1, at St. Mark’s Cathedral School, 2785 Fairfield Ave. This school event is NOT open to the general public, but media inquiries can be directed to the school’s media contact, Caroline Andress (listed at top of page), for permission to film and/or interview students. Gwynne’s art car—Penelope—will be there, too and the purple wonder is not camera-shy at all. Nickell is excited to return to St. Mark’s where she herself attended eighth grade in the late 1970s.