Over the weekend Husband and I decided to get a little artsy, or at least feel a little artsy. It’s only been a few weeks, but we’re already missing the MET, MOMA and the Guggenheim. We repainted some furniture, but that turned out to be not very creative work. After we finished our “artwork” we headed to Nashville’s Frist Center to enjoy some actual artwork.
The Frist Center is in downtown Nashville in what used to be Nashville’s very first post office. We used to visit fairly often when we first lived in Tennessee. I even took my classes there on field trips, but it’s been at least four years since my last trip. This weekend was an especially good weekend to visit because the new Art Deco Automobile exhibit just opened. Now, I know what you’re thinking…Hilarie? Cars? What an obvious combination!
No. I’ve never mentioned any sort of car, because I don’t give a rat’s tushy about cars, however; these cars aren’t just cars. They’re art.
To be honest, when I got the opportunity to checkout and review these cars I was not enthused. I got myself pumped up by dressing up, wearing an art deco style necklace and with coffee, of course. When I arrived, I was greeted by a very friendly woman named Ellen who is the Frist’s director of communications. She was warm, informative and just thrilled to tell us all about the new exhibit, Sensuous Steel: Art Deco Automobiles.
The cars (and motorcycles) in this exhibit are all from the 30’s and 40’s, influenced by the art deco styles and soooo pretty.
They may not be very economical and certainly not gas efficient, but who cares!? Can’t you just imagine Audrey Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart being chauffeured around town in one of these?
If you are like me, and not easily impressed by cars, let me tell you a few secrets (facts I did not know) I learned while touring this exhibit.
-Many of these cars were created in Paris. Now, imagine sitting at a little sidewalk cafe, sipping espresso, smoking a cigarette and watching these cars drive by…nice, right?
-Some of them had sunroofs! Like this 1936 Delahaye 135m Figoni and Falaschi, for example. Impessed? Who new sunroofs existed that long ago??
-Frank Lloyd Wright owned this orange 1929 Cord L-29.
-These futuristic motorcycle looks like a superhero should be drifing it, but it’s actually too heavy, impractical and hard to ride. Nice to look at though…
-The “Xenia” was named after the designer’s ex-wife, after he already re-married. Hmmm wonder how his new wife felt about this? I liked that this car looks like a rocket ship in the back. Also, there is custom-made luggage that comes with the car! So, you know your suitcases will fit perfectly in the trunk. Genius!
-Some cars have a speedometer in the backseat so the people being toted around can very easily annoy the driver and tell him he’s going too fast, or too slow. I wonder if this is when the phrase “backseat driver” was coined?
-Many of the cars were inspired by aviation. This van, which looks it has a cat face, has mobile seats and a card table. It’s meant to feel like a flight, but actually looks much roomier. It was also designed to look like a scarab. Several cars had some Egyptian influence.
Husband’s favorite car is the 1914 Chrysler “Thunderbolt”. Only five of these cars were made, and only 4 of those have survived. It’s very rare. It has a fender that goes around the entire car and looks like it belongs in a drive-thru.
We had a lot of fun looking at these cars and reading and hearing about their past. If you are interested in seeing this new exhibit then click here for visiting info. The Automobile exhibit closes on September 15th, but the Frist is always offering new exhibits, and activities for the whole family. *BUT, try your best to see the cars Monday-Friday. It gets very crowded on the weekends.
AND: If you check out Sensuous Steel, then you will get a discount at Nashville’s Lane Motor Museum. Just bring your ticket stub!