Frida Premiere in Baltimore

Back in the days when Imperials had their place among American luxury cars, it wasn't unusual to see famous folks riding in them. Here's the story of how my Imperial art car and I got a chance to carry on that tradition.

I got a phone call from Marcia Semmes of the American Visionary Art Museum (AVAM) in Baltimore. She said she remembered my art car fondly from when I was there a few months earlier for ArtScape. (AVAM sponsors the art cars portion of ArtScape.) She asked whether I'd like to drive down and participate in an event to benefit the museum. On November 4, 2002, the actors Edward Norton and Salma Hayek were going to conduct a Maryland premiere showing of their new film Frida, with proceeds to be donated to AVAM to finance an expansion. Marcia said that ideally, the two stars would ride in my art car, but in any case it would be on display in front of the theater as a representative of AVAM's kind of art.

Well, how could I refuse an invitation like that? I'd been in love with AVAM since touring it during ArtScape weekend, so I would have been glad to do the museum any favor, let alone such a glamorous one. And I'm a fan of Edward Norton, having seen him in the movies Fight Club and Rounders, and the excellent stage play Burn This in New York City.

I didn't know much about Salma Hayek at the time, but her face was everywhere that month, including on the covers of magazines at supermarket checkout stands. A web search revealed that she'd been a rising star for some time, and that Frida was her much-anticipated masterpiece, years in the making. She has the lead role, playing the Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, and she's also co-producer. Edward Norton has a cameo role, but was more heavily involved as a writer of the screenplay (uncredited, for some reason).

AVAM mentioned my car in their press release about the upcoming event.

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