If you're a motor racing fan the weekend of May 25-26 is a veritable feast, with two of the world's greatest races, the Monaco Grand Prix and the Indianapolis 500, happening on Sunday. They couldn't be more different. Monaco is an F1 road race through the twisting streets of the municipality, backed by spectacular scenery. The Indy 500 is an oval race over a 2.5 mile course with four slightly banked turns. There is no scenery but plenty of spectacle.
I'll be watching both on television, which means that on Sunday I'm a couch potato, except for a brief break to get out for a walk and some fresh air. But if I could choose to attend one of the events live it would be Monaco, a race I've seen twice and a place I've visited several times as an automobile journalist and an ad writer. With all due respect to Indianapolis, I'd rather watch the 500 on TV.
That this is the biggest race weekend of the year gives me an opportunity to post a blog about CarArt.us, which has just undergone a major redesign of its Web site. "Symmetrical, clean, classic, and consistent," is how it describes itself, with a home page that features a slide show six times bigger than before.
To put this in perspective, CarArt.us has grown to include 1,300 artworks by 75 international artists, whose talent originates from 18 countries and is categorized into 35 special interest galleries. Founder Peter Aylett, in paying tribute to those who offered advice, ideas, feedback, and encouragement during the redesign, kindly included yours truly. And that gives me an excuse (not that I needed one) to show our viewers examples of the racing art available from the site, chosen to display the vastly different styles, each as unique as the cars themselves.
Those who know their racing history will immediately recognise the car in Dennis Brown's painting (above), for the Lancia D50 had its fuel tanks on each side, between the wheels. Very scary if you think about the risk of fire in a crash. Dennis paints in a variety of mediums, but the majority of his work starts out as an outline in pen and ink, followed by filling in with transparent watercolor or acrylic. He likes layering deep, vivid colors with bright, hot highlights – the colors glistening so much the car looks freshly painted and still wet from the spray gun.
Using a more traditional technique, Walter Gotschke takes us back to 1937 and the Czechoslovakia Grand Prix. Bern Rosemeyer's Auto Union wins at Masaryk, a famous racing circuit named after Tomas Masaryk, the first president of Czechoslovakia. This historic track led through streets of a town called Brno and neighboring villages such as Bosonohy and Zebetin. The self-taught artist was born in 1912 in a village of imperial Austrian Silesia (now Czech Republic) but lived and worked in Stuttgart, Germany from 1938. By special arrangement with Gerhild Drücker-Gotschke, Car Art Inc. is offering the Memories of an Enthusiast Collection – a series of signed limited edition prints.
This Hawaiian Islands resident lives thousands of miles from any race tracks but that doesn't prevent Niles Nakaoka from bringing a fresh new look to the art of motorsport. Though he tries to attend at least one major open-wheel race a year, Nakaoka relies mostly on friends to supply him with photographs for subject matter. Inspired by the work of Hector Bergandi he prefers F1 cars because their open wheels impart a feeling of speed. A member of the Automotive Fine Arts Society, Niles is a recipient of their two most prestigious awards: the 2002 Peter Helck Award and the 1996 Athena Award of Excellence.
I like Alan Fearnley's philosophy about his audience, for it parallels mine in producing Marque1. Alan is convinced that if the enthusiast school is ever to be recognized and valued as it should, it must produce pictures of such artistic quality that they can be appreciated and valued by all art lovers. They must also have pictorial merit to hang anywhere – not only in the studies of car enthusiasts. Alan once specialised in railway and landscape compositions but about thirty years ago, to our everlasting benefit, he started a move towards motoring and motor racing. In Wet & Dry he captures the drama of Belgian's Spa, with Michael Schumacher racing to victory in 1995.
No circuit anywhere in the world can match the glamour or beauty of Monaco, where the streets may be narrow and passing difficult yet every race is unpredictable right to the last lap. Alfredo De la Maria takes us back to the 1957 Monaco Grand Prix with Juan Manuel Fangio in the winning Maserati 250F hotly pursued by Stirling Moss in his British Racing Green Vanwall and Peter Collins in the Lancia Ferrari 801, as they climb the Montée Beau-Rivage. The Latin-American artist was born in Montevideo, the capital of Uruguay, studied architecture at the Facultad de Arquitectura and painting and sculpture at the Escuela Nacional de Bellas Artes (National School of Fine Arts) in Montevideo.
The artists whose work is shown here have all succeeded in meeting the most difficult challenge in painting automobiles: creating the illusion of speed. Check the new CarArt.us site for more examples and enjoy the race this weekend, whichever one you choose to watch. That's both for me.