Blank, Harrod 1963(?)-
BLANK, Harrod 1963(?)-
ADDRESSES: Offıce—2248 Summer St. Berkeley, CA 94709-1428. E-mail—[email protected]
CAREER: Filmmaker, photographer, and author. Producer, director, and editor of the documentary films Wild Wheels, produced by PBS, and Driving the Dream, part of National Geographic Explorer series, 1997.
AWARDS, HONORS: Best Book for Young Adults, American Library Association, c. 1993, for Wild Wheels.
Wild Wheels, Pomegranate Communications, Inc. (Rohnert Park, CA), 1993.
Art Cars: The Cars, the Artists, the Obsession, theCraft, Lark Books (Asheville, NC), 2002.
WORK IN PROGRESS: I've Got Vision, a book containing photographs of people reacting to their first sighting of the "Camera Van"; Wild Wheels II, a documentary.
SIDELIGHTS: Harrod Blank has parlayed his love of "art cars" into a career as a filmmaker and author. It all began when Blank moved from a commune, where he lived with his mother, to downtown Santa Cruz, California, when he was seventeen. While other teenagers may have turned to oddly colored hair and body piercings to express themselves, Blank took a 1965 Volkswagen Beetle and began spray painting it in fluorescent colors. He added a spinning globe to the hood and then planted a television with a skull inside—(a commentary on television violence)—on the roof. More weird and exotic additions soon followed, like plastic baby dolls, which Blank attached as a statement on overpopulation. The reactions he encountered as people saw his car led him to name it "Oh My God!" Several years later, after attending college, Blank set out on a two-year cross-country trip to film a documentary called Wild Wheels on the art car scene, which ultimately resulted in a companion book.
The 1993 book Wild Wheels includes 100 photographs and descriptions of forty-two art-car aficionados who decorate their cars not only for the attention these vehicles draw but as a personal statement of their beliefs, which are often stranger than fiction. Perhaps the most peculiar of the lot is a man in Alabama who believes he was told by God to "clean up his act" and, as a result, decorated his old Chevrolet with a plethora of faucets. Another participant in this pop-art phenomenon covered his car with grass, of the lawn-type variety. "They're all eccentric but giving," Blank told Janice Min in an article in People. "Their cars entertain."
In his second book, Art Cars: The Cars, the Artists, the Obsession, the Craft. Blank presents more than 100 new art-car creations, including the Skull Truck, the Cork Car, a car with a working waterfall, and the "Stinkbug!" covered with old cigarette butts. The book also includes an introduction that places the art-car movement within the context of other types of folk art and testimonials by various art-car creators as to why they create art cars and how they achieve their visions. Rebecca Miller, writing in Library Journal, commented that the book "could convince even the most stoic skeptics to give it a go with their own wheels." As a result, Blank also includes a how-to section for those that may be inspired to create their own art vehicle.
Another one of Blank's projects developed after he had a dream that he drove around the country in a car covered in cameras to chronicle the reaction people would have to it. Blank began browsing thrift shops for old cameras and asking friends and relatives for their obsolete cameras. He then took a 1972 Dodge van and covered it with more than 1,000 of them. However, hidden among the old broken-down cameras were motorized models that worked via a remote control device installed near the driver's seat. As a result, when people came up to the van to gawk at it, Blank was able to capture their uninhibited reactions. The result was more than 5,000 photographs, which Blank planned to develop into a book titled I've Got a Vision. "One of the fringe benefits of doing this," Blank told People about his art car passion, "is seeing the smiles, the thumbs-up, the awe in children's eyes."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, September 1, 1994, Nancy McCray, review of Wild Wheels video, p. 62.
Library Journal, April 1, 2002, Rebecca Miller, review of Art Cars: The Cars, the Artists, the Obsession, the Craft, p. 99.
New York Times, August 21, 1992, William Grimes, "No, It's Not a Mad Vision. It's an Art Car. Want a Ride?," p. B3(N), ; August 26, 1995, "A Total of 1,705 Candid Cameras," p. 37.
People, April 18, 1994, Janice Min, "Auto Auteur: Harrod Blank Films Vehicular Fantasies," pp. 57-58.
Publishers Weekly, January 28, 2002, "You Auto See This One!," p. 247.
School Library Journal, December, 1994, Burton H. Brooks, review of Wild Wheels (video), p. 61.
Harrod Blank Home Page, http://www.harrodblank.com (September 11, 2002).
Kodak Web site,http://www.kodak.com (May 30, 2002), "Art Cars: Photography by Harrod Blank."*