The keys that turn a car from auto to art rev in the detail - the minimalism appeal of a flat black paint job honoring the sleek design of a 1950s Ford truck, the careful brush strokes needed for masterful pin striping, the intricate murals painted on the hood of a Chevy Impala.
There are miles between the average automobile, some refer to as "grocery-getters," and a show car, fit for an exhibition. This September, all ages in the community can appreciate the artistry behind these adorned automobiles.
The Oro Valley Classic Car and Truck Show, on Saturday, Sept. 21 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., will showcase the nearly 100 cars and trucks, live music, activities and all-American food at Oro Valley Marketplace, on the southwest corner of Oracle Road and Tangerine Road.
"We began presenting car shows as a way to expose all forms of art, challenging the norm and approaching the question 'what is art?,'" said SAACA Executive Director Kate Marquez.
Any enthusiast who spends $10,000 to $20,000 on a graphic paint job, masters the art of mural airbrushing or designs a charismatic car will support the artistic relevance of custom vehicles, car restoration and the art that drives the industry.
"The show is fun, educational and supports the arts, having raised thousands of dollars for arts education through the years," said SAACA Executive Director Kate Marquez. This year, proceeds from the event help support both free arts education for youth in schools and therapeutic arts programs for veterans.
As arts education continues to diminish in many schools, programs for youth to engage in art and music have become imperative for development milestones. SAACA has strived to fill this gap in education through free-to-attend music programs as well as present Music for Our Veterans, a series supporting the mental, emotional and communicative benefits of therapeutic arts.
The charity event also features an award ceremony, announcing vehicle winners, with trophies given for Best of Show, Best Interior, Best Paint, Best Engine and People's Choice.
Recently, SAACA commissioned a local artist to create the trophies. Artist John Benedict fuses metal pieces together to create a mechanical look to the trophies, making each a unique piece of art.
Mixing classic cars with classic food and music sets the show's lively theme. Attendees can fill up on kettle corn, BBQ, quesadillas, lemonade and shaved ice while listening to rock and blues from Rhythm Incorporated, Vintage Sugar and Thick As Thieves.
Admission is just $5 and children ages 10 and younger get in free. SAACA is still accepting applications for vehicle registration as well as exhibitors, sponsors and non-profits.
"The venue is great up in Oro Valley because there's other stuff around and plenty of parking," said Allen Showalter, former owner of a 1968 Chevy Camaro and who participated in last year's event. "It's a great show."
The engine behind design
"Cars are thought of so much as a product that it's a little difficult to get into the aesthetic side under the same terminology one would discuss art," said Chris Bangle, chief of design for BMW Group, during a lecture in Monterey, Calif.
"Cars-as-art brings it into an emotional plane, if you accept that," he said, "that you would have to deal with on the same level that you would with art with a capital A."
He contrasted this concept to automobiles which serve a purpose as a mode of transportation, not necessarily invoking an emotional side through visuals.
"Cars are a sculpture," Bangle said. "Every car you see out here is sculpted by hand."
He compared the vehicle designers, who often work in clay, with great sculptors - showing images of famous statues alongside car model designing within workshops.
"They put that same kind of tension into the sculpting of a car that you do in a great sculpture you would look at in a museum - that tension between the need to express, the need to discover.
"And at the same time, you have bounds of craftsmanship - rules that say 'this is how you handle surfaces,' 'this is what control is all about,' 'this is how you show you're a master of your craft'" he further explained the parallels.
Designers require an artistic approach when creating a car or vehicle. Although most designers understand what is likely to transfer from model to reality, it is the engineers that sometimes put the brakes on certain artistic aspects that may not transfer to machine.
"What we're interested in is finding form that's more than just a function," Bangle spoke on behalf of designers. "We're interested in finding beauty that's more than just an aesthetic."
Just as many artists would define a means to express themselves through their work, he brought the inspiration for designing cars to its roots.
"It's really a truth," he said.