My Car Quest

July 24, 2019

Focus On An Artist: Larry Fuentes, Mendocino, CA

by Wallace Wyss –

So I’m in Mendocino, a little village on the West Coast about 3 hours drive North of San Francisco and I go into a bar, one of those old western bars that should have a swinging gates to enter, and I see this guy arrive in a Cadillac, an old befinned one from the Sixties, and it is encrusted with sea shells.

Hey, I got a good memory. Seems like 40 or so years before, on my Uncle’s ranch I saw a guy putting sea shells on a small English car called a Berkeley.

I said to him “Hey, why mess up a good car? Take those shells off and paint it red.”

And he said “No, sir, this is art.”

I was dubious. But then I wasn’t an artist (I became one in 2009).

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Now every once in a while, I check on Larry Fuente and his work. I remember being bowled over when I saw one of his seashell-encrusted works on the cover of National Geographic, a magazine I had read religiously as a child.

Since then he has been the subject of documentaries, shown in many galleries and even had his work in the Smithsonian.

I don’t know if there were “art cars” before Larry Fuente. But he has a style all his own, a combination of color, and texture. And a sense of style in picking the car that goes underneath–he seems to favor Cadillacs.

So, since I live in SoCal, I haven’t darkened the door of the local bar on Little Lake Road in Mendocino recently but I know, if I’m ever up on the upper coast, I’ll be able to spot Larry in one of his art cars a mile away.

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And I’m glad I didn’t talk him out of putting those shells on that car….

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The Smithsonian American Art Museum writes this on their web site,

Born in Chicago, Larry Fuente studied at the Kansas City Art Institute from 1967 to 1968, after which he followed friends to California. Since the late 1960’s, Fuente has concentrated on producing a body of work that is marked by an obsessive interest in surface ornamentation. He delights in covering readily identifiable forms with beads, plastic baubles, buttons and mass-produced items of no intrinsic value, transforming the mundane into unique objects.
Size is no deterrent to Fuente, who once spent five years coating a 1960 Cadillac sedan with one million brightly colored beads, sequins, buttons, plastic lawn ornaments, and other items. Such works are related to a Latino popular-culture tradition in which automobiles and other objects are embellished with a profusion of brightly colored ornaments.

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Let us know what you think in the Comments.

Wallace Wyss

Wallace Wyss


 
 
 
THE ATUHOR: Wallace Wyss is a fine artist specializing in capturing the essence of classic cars in oil. For a list of his available prints write mendoart7@gmail.com

 
 
 
 
 
 

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Summary
Focus On An Artist: Larry Fuentes, Mendocino, CA
Article Name
Focus On An Artist: Larry Fuentes, Mendocino, CA
Description
Since the late 1960's, Larry Fuente has concentrated on producing a body of work that is marked by an obsessive interest in surface ornamentation.
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Comments

  1. Robert Feldman says

    This is one car you don’t want to get into an accident with! Imagine reviewing the repair with an insurance adjuster and going over all that would be involved in changing a fender or “blending in” bead work from one panel to another. Yikes!

  2. Living in the Bay Area I see cars driving or parked, on occasion, adorned in some artistic/humorous way but NOTHING even close to the degree of attention and detail that Larry displays on his cars. Amazing!

  3. Raymond Zinn says

    I seem to recall that they have a contest/parade out there for the people that do this.
    What a shame to do this to an icon to the future, heck he hid all of that chrome, just sinful, SARC!

  4. SKIP HINOJOS says

    THAT MIGHT FLY IN THE PHILIPPIANS AND SOME OTHER COUNTRIES IN SOUTH EAST ASIA,S. BUT I DON’T DIG IT. ONE SHOULD NOT COVER ONE WORK OF ART WITH ANOTHER.

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