ArtCars by Damon Cuccia

Featuring over 250 artists, this year’s Stone Arch Festival of Arts will play host to live music, crafts, and performances. On Sunday, the second day of the festival, painter Damon Cuccia will demonstrate his affinity for art on wheels by creating an art car.

CP: What type of car are you planning to use?

DC: It's a 1999 Chevy Grand Am. The guy that owns the car wants it painted with a Star Wars theme. So we're doing images, characters, and scenes inspired by the movies. I've done several car projects like this; we do it to promote the art cars and the parade. We've done them at the Midtown Farmers' Market, and one at the Spam Festival in Austin, Minnesota. Kids are fascinated, and parents are sometimes mortified. Everyone can help paint sections.

CP: Do you own other art cars?

DC: The name of my art car is Tropical Splendor. It has a tiki theme. On one side I have Easter Island heads. On the hood I have a Japanese woodblock print where I copied the famous Hokusai's The Great Wave Off Kanagawa. On the other side there's hula dancers and a band. I have a ukulele player, a slide guitar player, and a bongo player.

CP: Are you familiar with any of the other art car drivers around town?

DC: I know a few. We hang at Art Cars on ice, out by the shanties.

CP: Have you noticed different reactions from drivers and people on the street?

DC: I’ve been driving my art car for so long. I painted it three or four years ago, then I repainted it with the tiki scenes. But it’s always a positive reaction. People tell me, "Nice car!"

CP: What about car insurance? Are ArtCar more expensive to insure?

DC: My insurance company doesn’t really know about the paint job.

CP: You've created 10 or so art cars over the years. Is there an idea that you'd like to create but haven't yet?

DC: It's hard to come up with themes. With other people's cars, they have to live with it, so I adapt ideas to what they want. I didn't know I was going to do a Star Wars car, but I am excited to do it. I was one of those kids that saw it 10 times in the theater. Lately, I have wanted to do an Animal Farm car, the George Orwell book about exploitation. It's an odd story. I was kind of nervous because the pigs are a big part of the story; their oppression of the other animals is a parallel to the Bolshevik Revolution. I got kind of paranoid because the police might take the pigs the wrong way. I don't want to do anything too inflammatory! It's public art, and with the tiki theme, it just seems like something everyone would like.

Damon Cuccia will be painting between noon and 5 p.m. Sunday during the Stone Arch Festival. The rest of the festival is free Saturday and Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. For more info on the festival visit, or call 612.871.4444 for more art car info.