cars

IS life a highway? Art exhibit on car culture says it is.

By Claes Oldenburg. Courtesy Toledo Museum of Art.

Here at StuckatTheAirport.com we love airports and air travel, but cars and road trips are a close second.

And we’re delighted to learn about the new exhibit at the Ohio’s Toledo Museum of Art (TMA) exploring the  automobile as a popular visual symbol of American culture.

Work by Don Eddy. Courtesy Toledo Museum of Art

Life Is a Highway: Art and American Car Culture includes about 125 pieces of art by 20th-century artists in a wide variety of media – including painting, sculpture, photography, film, prints and drawings.

The show will be on view at the museum through September 15, 2019.

So it looks like a good stop to add to your summer road trip.

By John Baeder. Courtesy Toledo Museum of Art.

Car culture is not only a key element of the country’s postwar boom economy of the 1950s and a symbol of freedom, individualism, renewal and middle-class prosperity, the TMA notes that cars are an inextricable part of the region’s identity:

“A significant portion of Toledo’s economy has been related to the automotive industry since the beginning of the 20th century. It is the home of two production facilities known as the Toledo Complex, an automobile factory that began assembling Willys-Overland vehicles as early as 1910. Since 1940, Jeeps have been assembled in the plant, which is now owned by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. Powertrain Toledo, a General Motors (GM) transmission factory, was founded in 1916 and has been the production site for many of GM’s transmissions.”

By Edward Burtynsky. Courtesy Toledo Museum of Art.

Artists with car-centric work in the show range from Thomas Hart Benton and Walker Evans to Ed Ruscha, Andy Warhol, Judy Chicago, George Segal and more than 100 others.

Stuart Davis: Landscape with Garage Lights, courtesy Toledo Museum of Art

Bonus events

In addition to the exhibition, the TMA is hosting some cool car-themed events.

There’s a film series featuring movies exploring the role of cars in American culture that includes a showing of the George Lucas classic American Graffiti in the museum parking lot on August 23. And throughout the summer, there will also be occasional car shows in front of the museum. More details here.

Work by Robert Indiana. Courtesy Toledo Museum of Art

Stuck at the airport: video made at DFW goes viral

How did they get away with that?

That’s what a lot of people were saying when they saw the video – Stuck – Joe Ayala and Larry Chen made while they were stuck at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport earlier this month.

STUCK from Joe Ayala on Vimeo.

Ayala and Chen are professional automotive photographers and they were on their way home from Formula Drift Palm Beach when they got stuck at the airport with their photography equipment – and their creativity.

The video shows them racing wheelchairs through the terminal, goofing around on the escalators and engaging in a wet-towel fight in a bathroom. It also shows Chen pounding on a computer keyboard at a gate and helping himself to a beer in what looks like an unattended restaurant.

The video has gone viral and, as I wrote on msnbc.com’s Overhead Bin,, it also has raised some concerns about airport security concern.

Airport spokesman David Magaña said that while DFW appreciates the creativity and humor demonstrated by the filmmakers, it does not condone the fact that they entered an eatery after business hours. “The video did point out the need to better secure this restaurant, and that issue is being addressed immediately,” he said.

Magaña added that security agents did observe the filmmakers at the airport, but “because the filmmakers were presenting no threat to themselves, to others or to flight safety, and were causing no damage, there was no imperative to curtail their activities.”

They had already made it past the security checkpoint, “and they also picked up after themselves, including the restroom,” Magaña said.

The high quality of the video made a lot of people wonder if the film was indeed made during a night spent stuck at the airport, but in an interview with Jalopnik, a site about cars, the filmmakers described how they made DFW look so good.

“What do I usually do when I pass the time when I’m bored? I usually shoot skits,” Chen told Jalopnik. “I have all this camera gear so I thought, ‘Why don’t we shoot one here?’ ”

Chen said they arrived at the airport around 11 p.m., planned out their video and were shooting until 4:30 a.m. “We didn’t have a tripod with us, but I had gear to shoot cars, so we used a suction cup mount, and we used a magic arm mount that is something that clamps on to anything,” Chen said. “We clamped it on to the stalls in the bathroom, and to this railing for the escalator shot. But like, it’s just like normal stuff, grip stuff that any professional photographer would have.”

“When we’re stuck at an airport we’re sort of like ‘Let’s take pics of each other!’ It’s part of a way of enjoying life and not taking things to seriously.”

Good advice.