Hyattsville’s Car Artist

Photo of Clarke Bedford art car by Flickr user richardc020

Photo of Clarke Bedford art car by Flickr user richardc020

Clarke Bedford’s medium is cars.

The Hyattsville resident, who works at the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, was recently featured in a spread on art cars at the Artscape festival in Baltimore.

One of his pieces, Vanadu, features a bust of English poet John Milton as a hood ornament on what started life as a 1988 Ford Econoline 150 van. He drives the van daily to work, so it’s a well-known site on the Beltway.

Here’s more on the van from Artcar Nation:

…one of the things that is special about Vanadu is that it is covered with metal automotive and architectural fragments that are bolted on. Because it is a daily driver (and in the North) it is constructed in a very practical and rugged way, using a lot of metal objects.  On his website, Clarke explains that he didn’t weld objects on the van, as many artcar artists have, because he didn’t want to distort the metal or ruin the original finishes of the found objects he used.

And more on why Bedford adds art to cars from an interview with InTheCapital:

It’s not only about exposure for yourself, but the shock to the viewer. He talked about driving to the grocery store and seeing people “with their jaws down to their shoes.” Out of all these people, he estimates that 98 percent of them do not visit art museums.

“[Public art] is a way of bringing art to people without trying to drag them in,” Bedford said. “It’s not unsophisticated, but it’s accessible.”

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