Art Car Slide Show in 3D

Art cars and stereoscopic photography both occupy fairly obscure corners of the visual arts world, so it's always a rare treat to discover someone else who's interested in both of them. Perhaps the strongest connection between the two is Jan Burandt. Living in Houston in the 1980s, she drove Urv, the Psychedelic Saab, which appears in Harrod Blank's Wild Wheels book, and she's a longtime friend of Jackie Harris, creator of the Fruitmobile, the car that inspired the Houston art car parade. Jan has been attending the Houston parade for years and photographing the art cars in stereo. These days she lives in Boston, and is the New England Regional Director for the National Stereoscopic Association.

Jan is also half of the two-person company 3D Concepts. Ironically, I had long-distance dealings with Jon Golden, the other member, for quite some time before I ever realized there was an art car connection. When I learned that the two of them would be presenting "Laissez Les Bon Temps Rouler" ("Let the Good Times Roll"), her award-winning 3D slide show of art car photos, I knew I had to go see it and meet them in person.

The presentation was at the Gleason Public Library in Carlisle, Massachusetts, on 3 April 2003. I had hoped to drive my art car up from New York, but wintry weather was predicted, so I had to take my boringmobile instead. I arrived with only minutes to spare. Jon and Jan greeted me warmly, and plied me with much-needed cookies from the refreshment table.

I had brought along copies of Harrod's two books, and they got many chuckles as they were passed around the audience before the show. I also made sure everybody got one of my postcards.

As 3D glasses were being distributed to all, Jan introduced the show with some remarks about art cars and about stereo slide projection. Then, with Jon manning the huge four-lensed slide projector, they let the good times roll...

Wow, her photos were spectacular! The stereo medium is perfect for capturing the tactile vividness of art cars, and she has mastered the technique. It was interesting to listen to the audience. The two cars that got the most reaction from the adults were Shelley Buschur's Eelvisa and Dave Major's Aerocar, while the children loved any car or bike shaped like an animal. Lots of people in the stereo hobby have seen these photos, but I hope Jan will find more opportunities to show them to the art car community as well.

After that, Jon (wearing a T-shirt from some past Houston parade) introduced a sequence of his own 3D slides of various subjects. His photos were quite fantastic too! I usually make prints rather than slides out of my stereo shots, since they're much more convenient to deal with. But prints in a stereoscope just don't compete with vivid slides projected in the large on a screen. Of course, it helps that Jon is an outstanding photographer. It's wonderful to see passion, skill, and aesthetic sense converge.

When the show was over, I was invited to a small dinner party at the house of Jon's next-door neighbor Kay Fairweather. While I waited for Jon to pack up his projector and silver screen, I ogled his collection of antique stereo cameras and other 3D-related paraphernalia, on display through May 3 on two floors of the library.

At Kay's house, I enjoyed her collection of outsider art and her lamb-and-quinoa stew. Over dinner, Jon tried, with mixed success, to convince me that stereo slides aren't that much more troublesome to produce than stereo prints. Jan told me about her experiences at the Houston art car parades, and about the difficulty of getting good photos at that event, since the cars are always on the move. (I said she ought to come to Artscape in Baltimore, where the art cars are parked in the midst of the festival all weekend.) And I enjoyed talking with stereographer Eric Goldstein. He's a fan of the MacDowell Colony in New Hampshire, the oldest artist colony in the USA, and he thought I should apply for one of their residencies. "I'll bet they've never had an art car before!" he said. (Gulp! Little ol' me, at the place where Thornton Wilder wrote Our Town and Leonard Bernstein wrote his Mass? Could the domains of Leonard Bernstein and Leopard Bernstein really intersect?)

At last, I reluctantly said my goodbyes, needing to get on the road before the ice and snow arrived. But I went home with a heart full of good cheer and renewed inspiration in both my stereography and art car hobbies. A very good day!

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