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“Dream Cars” Exhibit Set to Impress Even Non-Car People

Apr 2 2014

by Anna Ferguson Hall

I drive a 2005 blue Toyota Corolla. It’s not the LE or S edition; it’s the standard, basic version. It has automatic locks, but crank-style windows. The beige interior is decorated in coffee and mud strains. This car has been in a few accidents (none my fault, really) and repaired flawlessly after each fender (or door, or side paneling) bender. Needless to say, I don’t drive a fancy automobile, but this blue baby has been with me for almost a decade of my life.

A decade during which I moved far, far from home and continued to move around for a few years before settling down, getting married and buying a house. This car has seen me shift from a 20-year-old/new to the world youngster, to being a 30-year-old adult, more schooled in the ways of life but still, a bit naïve. At least now, I realize the naivety is there, and that’s what, I think, maturing is all about. (But that’s a different blog for another time.)

From looking at my almost 10-year-old vehicle, it’s quite easy to see that I am not a Car Person. Flashy wheel rims and decked out windows and whatever else Car People look for in their ride, I don’t look for. Heck, I don’t even know what it’s called.

My husband, on the other hand, he is a Car Person. He doesn’t build them or collect them- yet– but he lives for “Top Gear,” orders plenty of car magazines, and driving anywhere, he points out this cool car, and that cool car, and this retro gem and yada yada. I nod, smile, and mutter, “Oh, wow. Sure, yeah.” Whatever.

It’s the equivalent of taking him to Anthropologie with me, as I goggle over the fabulous new line, the gorgeous sundresses, dazzling accessories and the sparkly tops. He stands awkwardly, pretending to care, only to excuse himself to go check out, well, anything else nearby.

But, this distinct car-care-less attitude I behold was changed, drastically, several years ago, with the High Museum in Atlanta showcased the “Allure of the Automobile” exhibit. This brilliant display of 18 vintage vehicles included automobiles from the 1930s to the 1960s, with masterpieces such as Bugatti, Duesenberg, Jaguar, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche and Ferrari expertly placed throughout the gallery.

Some of these one-of-a-kind vehicles were owned by the very rich and very famous folks, including two owned by Clark Gable (swoon). One piece, particularly, resides in memory. It was a coupe, with plaid interior, which I think was the 1961 Aston Martin DB4GT Zagato, if memory (and Google) serve me correctly. Museum staff at the time told us, the media mavens, that the autos were “rolling sculptures.” I didn’t disagree.

Now, the High is again showing off the significance of art in autos, with “Dream Cars: Innovative Design, Visionary Ideas.” Debuting mid-May and going through Sept. 7, the gallery will present 17
concept cars from across Europe and the United States. Cars tapped for the gallery will be innovate variations of vehicles from the 1930s to the 21st century. These will not be 2005 Toyota Corollas, but rather, cars that pushed the limits, boundaries and ideas of what a vehicle could be. These are vessels that foreshadowed the future of design, and proposed utterly unique and savvy ways of driving on the road (or off, in some cases).

The exhibition will feature more than just the autos, though. Also on display alongside the cars themselves, will be conceptual drawings, patents and scale models with realized cars, demonstrating how their experimental designs advanced ideas of progress and changed the automobile from an object of function to a symbol of future possibilities.

“The concept cars presented in ‘Dream Cars’ demonstrate how design can transcend the present and offer new paths and opportunities for the future,” said Sarah Schleuning, exhibition curator and curator of decorative arts and design at the High. “While these cars were never mass-produced, they shaped the future of the automotive industry by challenging the notion of what is possible, technologically and stylistically.”

Concept cars, according to Museum staff, are a way for automakers, coachbuilders and independent designers to showcase and demonstrate innovative and progressive designs. Most concept cars are never intended for series production and are created as a way to explore ideas through styling and design aesthetics, as well as experiment with new technology.

So think of this as a sneak peak to the new spring line, if you will.

“This exhibition presents 17 historic four-wheeled fantasies that push the envelopes of automotive styling, engineering and design to impressive heights. Visual and tactile tributes to ingenuity and imagination, these remarkable cars will intrigue visitors with their audacity, just as they did when they first appeared,” said Ken Gross, automotive expert and consulting curator for “Dream Cars.”

For not being a Car Person, I am overly-excited about this show. I can’t wait for May to arrive so I can see inside the world of these historical hotbeds that merge art with transportation. I can only image what a Car Person would be feeling. (My husband, a photographer and fellow journalist, is coming with me. He can’t shut up about the exhibit, and we still have, like, six weeks to go. I’d say he’s pretty darn excited, too.)

Just what will be on display when the exhibit open in May? Highlights of “Dream Cars” include:

Just as exciting as seeing the cars, will be seeing the full-color, 160-page catalogue which will accompany the exhibition. inside, we’re promised to see stunning photography and an extended essay by Schleuning exploring the effects of aerodynamics and aeronautics on car design, the design process from conception to completion, and how groundbreaking events such as General Motors’ Motorama fueled the creativity of automobile styles. A Car Person? Maybe not so much. But Publication Person? Oh, I have that market on lock down.

For more information about the upcoming exhibit and the High, visit high.org.

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