Art Cars Descend on New York

Artists are on a national driving tour promoting documentary, “Automorphosis”

By Maya Pope-Chappell
|  Thursday, Oct 15, 2009  |  Updated 7:15 PM EDT
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Art Cars Run New York

Maya Pope-Chappell

Hoop is one of the many car artists featured in "Automorphosis."

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“The California Fantasy Van,” covered in 5,000 pieces of brass and $15,000 in coins, has rolled into New York City

The mobile piece of art is in town on a national tour promoting a new documentary about art cars and their eccentric creators called “Automorphosis.”

“The film is an exploration of people who have transformed their car into rolling pieces of art,” said Hunter Mann, driver of the "fantasy" van built over a 22-year period by his godfather Ernie Steingold.

Mann was recently parked on 41st St. in Times Square along with the documentary's creator Harrod Blank, who drives his own art car called the “Camera Van” covered with thousands of cameras, and local car artist Stephen “Hoop” Hooper and his “Music Mobile.”

“[Car artists] are spread out across the country in these little pockets and they don’t know about anybody else that does this,” Blank, a Bay Area native, told “They’re kind of in a vacuum. You can almost say they’re in their own world.”

Blank's van is covered with 2,700 camera’s including six functional Cannon cameras that shoot print film. The van also has two operational video cameras that transmit live images to four TV monitors mounted on the passenger side of the van.

Hoop, a fixture in the art car scene who is also featured in the film, has been creating art cars he calls “Hoopmobiles” for 20 years. Hoop joined the small fleet of art cars on 41st with his “Music Mobile” covered in faux-fur, record players, 45’s, 8-tracks, CD’s and other music-themed items.

“A lot of my friends were graffiti people and they were doing walls and subway cars, which is illegal,” Hoop said. “ I said I’m going to decorate my car and make it into a piece of art and drive it around.”

The film will be screened during the Royal Flush Festival on Oct. 18 at 3:30 p.m. at the Anthology Film Archives in the East Village. Following the show, Hoop’s art cars will be included in an art show at Fusion Arts called “Art of the Crash,” which also features artists who create art using car parts.

"People always love it," Hoop said as people stopped and stared at the cars, many pulling out their camera phones to take pictures.  "I just keep trying to turn it out and make the people on the street happy."

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