My Car Quest

July 24, 2024

Road Art: A “Primitif” Discovers a New Venue

by Wallace Wyss –

When I heard there was going to be five collector car auctions in Monterey during Car Week I decided to call them up and see if they were interested in my automotive paintings. RM Sotheby’s and Gooding were not offering memorabilia. But the third company I called–Mecum–was.

They called that category “Road Art” and put me In touch with the young lady who handles that department. I sent her the article about my work in Hemmings, and told of the Museum that bought a painting, and emailed her pictures of my five paintings and mulled over whether I could afford the $100 entrance fee each should my work be accepted.

Wallace Wyss Art

My paper art they weren’t interested in, but they liked the idea of canvases. Mine are “gallery wrapped” an art term for the canvas going around a wooden frame and is stapled on the back. They can still be matted and framed but modern houses look better without stuffy old frames.

Work offered from me is actually all printed, not the original paintings. That’s because, at my tender age, 78, I can’t see that well enough to do a 20” x 30.” So I do it small, like 8.5” x 11” and enlarge the ones I like to 20” x 30”. That sounds big, but in some homes I have delivered a painting to a 20” by 30” is “lost.” One house had a living room so big you could kick a football and it wouldn’t hit the back window.

As far as subject I remembered Mecum auctions from the past—they seem interested in muscle cars, big block Chevys and Fords. Yet four of the five canvases I was thinking of submitting were Ferraris and the fifth a DeTomaso Pantera Pavesi targa—there’s only two such cars in the US. But at least it has an American engine—a Ford 351 Cleveland.

Are there Ferrari tifosi among the Mecum fans? In the end, I drove the 450 miles from Los Angeles to Monterey and decided to only submit two for auction. That’s because they were to be offered at No Reserve which meant a lucky bloke, early in the am when he didn’t have much competition, could bid one dollar and walk away with his prize.

The auction companies love offering No Reserve because the word “sold” can be repeated with rapidity to speed up the pace. So at the last minute I decided just to submit two, which I’d already paid the entrance fee on.

I turned them in to Mecum at their tent when I arrived in Monterey. I was surprised to see a glassed-in showroom with Ferraris, McLarens–“purist cars” not muscle cars. So I could see Mecum is not going to let RM Sotheby’s and Gooding have all the exotics for sale.

Wallace Wyss Art

Wyss usually offer prints in 11″ x 17″ on art paper or 20″x 30″ on canvas but only the canvas ones are embellished.

Then I went off to do my reporting. Two days later I got a message that I’d left the wrong red Ferrari. So I went back but since the “wrong” one was already in the catalogue we just changed the caption.

I went back to covering Concorso Italiano, the racetrack, a Porsche event, and the piece de resistance of the weekend, Pebble Beach and left town without checking the auction results. Now when I got home the very first thing I did was check the auction and they already had the sales prices posted

– $944 for the GTO engine art

– $1,770 for the “wrong” Ferrari portrait

What I liked about the one car portrait that sold is that there is a man in a white suit and hat in the painting. I figured this year that would be my new “image,” inspired by my old buddy Tom Wolfe, the writer.

I was floored. But in the same Mecum auction Leroy Neiman’s Ferrari painting sold for over $11,000 but everybody knows who he was. Me, not so much. I looked at the Road Art sale results by Mecum at their other auctions and found out a lot of their road art is signs, like a Bugatti porcelain sign that sold for $2,242 or the Bentley one sided tin sign that sold for $5,310.

So my sales, while big news in Wallyville, were par for the course. I know who buys these visual bits of memorabilia–guys with big garages for their classic cars, like Jay Leno.

And so it is. You still have to pay a sales commission but hey, they were better salesmen (and women) than me. Wish I could’ve been there…

Now, where’s my Winsor-Newton series 6 number 7 sable paint brush? Excuse me, I gotta get to work…

Let us know what you think in the Comments.

Wallace Wyss art

THE AUTHOR: Wallace Wyss can be reached regarding his archive list of prints


Wallace Wyss

Yer o’bient servant, with some unidentified fan

Road Art: A “Primitif” Discovers a New Venue
Article Name
Road Art: A “Primitif” Discovers a New Venue
When I heard there was going to be five collector car auctions in Monterey during Car Week I decided to call them up and see if they were interested in my automotive paintings.


  1. Jack A Nelson says

    I enjoy your articles & have been aware of your paintings .

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