ChewBaru - The Mobile Masticator
(Thank you, Erika, for suggesting this name)
It wasn't until I was "discovered"
by Erika Nelson that
I realized the BugWing was
also an art car. I had followed art car stuff online periodically
since 1997, and had followed one particular art car artist with his
car until it died, but it had never occurred to me to think of the
BugWing as an art car, or to attend art car events in it. After
my first trip to Omaha for the Central Art Car Exhibit and
Celebration in 2004, followed by the art car show in Hastings,
NE, right after that, though, I knew I'd be a part of the art car world
in some way since I had such a good time with the people I started meeting.
When I returned from those shows I talked to one of my sisters
who had a 1995 Subaru Legacy that she bought in 1999, only to have it
totaled by hail in 2000. She continued driving it until she bought
a new car in 2004. I told her I'd take it, and the photo above shows
how it appeared when I made a deal with her. The hail damage doesn't
look bad in that photo, but it's the worst hail damage I've ever seen on
a car. Mechanically, though, it's fine.
In 2005, I decided to skip what had been an annual
run to the motorcycle rally in Sturgis, SD, since 1991 (with the
exception of 1994), and use my vacation time to go to art car events.
The first one in 2005 was my run to Houston for the biggest art car show in the
country, where I was very surprised to win a first place with the
BugWing. I also had another trip to Omaha scheduled for August,
and I was scheduled to make the first-ever Route 6 Nebraska Art
Car Tour that went all the way across Nebraska on Route 6, from Omaha
to the Colorado border.
After I bought the Subaru, I
started thinking about what I was going to do with it. Several
ideas came to me, and I even started pursuing some of them by getting
some materials. However, none of them really grabbed me.
It was while going to sleep one night somewhere in western Nebraska
while on the Route 6 Art Car Tour that the idea for the ChewBaru came
into my head!! One of my favorite cars in Houston this year
was "Handy," (here's
a close-up of one part
of it) and, while going to sleep that one night I thought of that
car and wondered what other part of the body could be represented on
a car. As soon as I had that thought, the idea of dentures came
to me. I knew then what I was going to do!!
The next day I shared my idea with someone for
the first time and the comment comment I heard was, "Sick!!" After
I came back home from the Route 6 Art Car Tour, I told my daughter.
Her comment was, "Gross!!" However, she did also suggest
the name "Gumby" and she wants to drive it to work some time, even though
she says it's "sick stuff." When I approached one of my cousins
who is a dentist and asked him if he could be any help finding discarded
dentures for an art project I had in mind, I saw his face contort
in a way I've never seen on him before. When that happened (and
the look stayed on his face the whole time we talked) I REALLY
knew I was on to a good idea and I had to do it. When I told him
what I was actually going to do, he asked that I spell my last name with
a "U" instead of an "E." I told him I'd hang a large banner on the
car advertising his practice. He declined my offer.
Right away I started looking for dentures on eBay.
Not surprisingly, dentures
are for sale, but what did surprise me was the fact there was actually
a demand for them. I'm not sure what those sick puppies are
doing with them, but they were going for prices that would have
left me broke in short order if I had to buy enough of them to do
this car for the prices they were bringing. I had a few e-mail
exchanges with one dental student who was selling dentures he
made on eBay, and one guy was kind enough to donate a number of dentures and dental molds.
Since I wasn't sure how molds would hold up in the weather,
I decided to dip them
in Varathane and then let
them dry. Close up, this is what some of them look like.
In addition, I bought a number of tools from a couple of people,
and I also bought some individual dentures that were too good
to pass up. I also bought a large number of individual teeth that are
used in making dentures. Some people I bought an
upper plate from even had a sense of humor and included a box of mints with
the teeth I bought from them. Eventually, I won an
auction for 75 pounds of
recycled dentures, and I started soaking them in bleach water in the sink, and in a five gallon bucket, even after
they had been recycled in what appears to have been a hot environment.
After they were subjected to the bleach water, I then had
to sort and "grade"
the pieces from the 75-pound box of recycled dentures I purchased.
In addition to the dentures and molds, I also
found some large teeth
that were apparently used in a dental school somewhere, and I
bought a couple of articulators
used in making dentures, along with some large teeth and a toothbrush
apparently used for demonstration purposes. I've learned
some things (not many) about dentistry while gathering materials for
this car. In addition to the dental stuff, I've also purchased some
very small wireless infrared night vision video cameras that will be incorporated
into the design to record people viewing the car, and/or vandalizing it.
On November 6, 2005, I took the car to the car wash, and then
did a series of photos of it before I got started putting things
on it. I did one photo of the entire car, another one
of the front of the
car that shows the hail damage a bit more clearly, and one of the rear of the car. Finally,
I did a photo of the top of the car, and second
one of the top while standing
closer. Look good since it's all about to change radically.
Before long, I'll place this bumper sticker on it. It
was given to me by a friend from Minneapolis
who may know something about what the sticker says since he used
to drive this.
After doing those photos in one of the local parks,
I glued on the uppers
I bought from the people who sent the mints, and I also glued
some individual teeth on the grill below those uppers that now
serve as the hood ornament. I'm using some stuff called "Goop,"
and I'll use clear silicone and E-6000 for some of the gluing of objects.
I thought about using my 1986 BMW 325es seen in the background,
but the mannequin will interfere with the sunroof. Stay tuned
for a LOT of additions since I'm preparing to move it into a garage
where I can lay my teeth and other stuff out and get serious about
gluing and screwing stuff to it. 100+ pounds of stuff I have
so far will probably not be enough, though.
November 21, 2005
All this creativity, combined with my usual
work, takes its toll on me and wears me out so I took the week
off from my "normal" job and decided to devote myself to the car.
The day started by going to the post office where I had a surprise waiting
on me. Tami and Ed
(second and third from the right, back row), two new art car artists
I met for the first time in Omaha in August of this year and got to yuck
it up with all the way across Nebraska on the Route 6 Art Car Tour, mailed
two teeth to me; one of which was a gold tooth!! Of course, it
didn't take long for me to glue those two attached teeth in a place of
honor in the car. They're now on top of my rear view mirror, right
in the middle. I didn't have my close up stuff with me so you'll
have to wait on a photo. I happened to be sitting with Tami and
Ed, and Anne, one evening in the Pioneer Village restaurant in Minden,
NE, when I nicknamed Anne "Dymbagg" (Tami's idea to spell it that way).
It's a long story, but that, and other stuff related to it, amused us
for the rest of the trip and still does......doesn't it, Anne?
It may not look like I accomplished a lot today (because
I didn't), but I did manage to get a piece of plexiglas cut and
bent for the demonstration teeth, and I had it bent so they'd appear
to be "open." These
will be mounted on the neck of the mannequin I will acquire somewhere,
some time, and it will be mounted on the roof of the car, near the
back. I added a red LED light to the lower part that will illuminate
the mouth. You'll have to wait to see what I do with the hands
of the mannequin. I also painted the eyes of this guy who will accompany me on
my travels for some reason, and I got some wire, glue, screws and bolts,
and other materials I'll need for some of the ideas I have.
I did have some interesting
e-mail from three friends today. Their comments
You are sick, sick, sick. Your daughter is right.
Gumby is sick and gross. <grin>. But you know, your link was
one of the more entertaining websites I have visited recently.
Thanks for making my day. I am sure your "current project" will
keep you young. I wish you Godspeed. Got to stimulate those
brain cells on somehow, right? I don't care what you do, just
And you know, like you, I once had a used 1986 325ES.
Now I have a Subaru Outback. It is similar to your Subaru Legacy,
but I am not going to glue dentures to it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
(2) Perfect timing...just got
off the phone with my daughter, having a conversation in which
almost everything was funnier that the sum of the conversations'
parts! Then I opened up this email. My, oh my, oh my, oh
my!!!!! All I can say at this point is: you REALLY ARE secure!!!
This whole idea of Gumby and, well, the world of art
car-ing, is going to take a little getting used to. May I
please have some time to digest the whole concept? ---
If there are ANY lulls in our (partial family) Thanksgiving
get-together, we'll be crowded around the computer monitor later
this week. Fortunately, I got a new, larger monitor this past
Have a great Thanks-to-God-giving......
(3) ... you've officially lost your
November 22, 2005
I had a meeting with Erika and Karla
at Erika's place in Lucas today. Karla works for the Salina (KS)
Arts and Humanities Commission and asked the two of us to help with the
planning of the invitational art car event that will be part of the upcoming
30th Annual Smoky Hill River Festival
in Salina, KS, June 8 - 11, 2006. This is a big event
in Salina and one I've attended previously and enjoyed a lot. The
art car part is new, however, and this was our second meeting to go
over some things related to that.
During our meeting, we took a break at one point and
I presented Karla
and Erika with some teeth.
That's all they're getting for Christmas. After I made
my presentation, Erika brought out a small container and presented
me with a wisdom tooth her
friend Tish gave to her after it was removed from her jaw when they
were 12 years old. When we completed our planning meeting, Erika
was asked to place it anywhere she wanted to place it in the car, so
she chose this spot on the
rear view mirror and glued it in place. I also asked Erika to glue
the first piece to the car (other than the one I put on the hood last
week) since she is the one who was first to invite me to art car events.
I had a number of pieces with me that she could choose from, so
she chose a mold and glued
it onto the trunk. Her pickup, Scout, is sitting in the background,
and her bus can be seen here.
In addition to those vehicles she will also be getting a new
bus to take the place of the old one. This link also
contains another link to the story of the trip made to get the new
I think art often does, and probably should, evoke emotion
when we view it, and I think it often, but not always, reflects some
emotion(s) felt by the artist.............except in this case. For
me, I just had an idea that sounded like fun, and I see no hidden,
deeper significance to it. While at Erika's place, though, I made a
comment about the fact this project has seemed to stir some visceral
reactions in some people. The e-mail noted above from good friends
who know me show some of that perhaps. Better examples may be found
in the fact that some people I've purchased material from on eBay, who
wanted to be informed how I was going to use it and asked me periodically,
have been totally silent after they were informed. Erika commented
on my experience, and, with her art knowledge and background, mentioned
a particular category of art into which this project could be placed.
That was news to me since, as I said, it was just an idea I had.
I did a little research on that category. For
example, one person had posted a long article that included references
to this category, and others. One small segment related to this
"Psychoanalytic theory became increasingly important
in Julia Kristeva's work during the seventies, as she began to theorize
the workings of poetic, transgressive language. In her work from
this era she envisions the signifying process as a dynamic consisting
of two processes which together make up any production of meaning:
the semiotic and the symbolic, concepts directly related
to the psychoanalytic theories of Jacques Lacan. According to Moi, "Kristeva
transforms Lacan's distinction between the imaginary and the symbolic
order into a distinction between the semiotic and the symbolic," this
being part of Kristeva's examination of "the status of the subject
and of the question of identity in psychoanalysis." (KR: 12)
To describe the semiotic Kristeva
introduces the somewhat obscure term chora. It is borrowed
from Plato's dialogue Timaeus and means in Greek "mark", "receptacle"
and "womb." Plato understands this term as something nourishing and
maternal, with strong feminine connotations. It is describe by Kristeva
as: "an essentially mobile and extremely provisional articulation
constituted by movements and their ephemeral stases.... Neither model
nor copy, the chora precedes and underlies figuration and thus specularization,
and is analogous only to vocal or kinetic rhythm." (KR: 94). The chora
is a pre-symbolic instance, a "rhythmic space," the psychosomatic origin
of meaning. It is deprived of unity or identity, but is nevertheless somehow
organized. Kristeva describes it as an "ordering of the drives" through
its being subject to "natural or sociohistorical constraints such as the
biological difference between the sexes or family structure". (ibid)
When the child enters the symbolic
order of language the chora becomes repressed, while continuing
to be a heterogeneous force inside the symbolic. In the words of
Moi, following Kristeva: "The semiotic continuum must be split if
signification is to be produced.... [This] enabling the subject to
attribute differences and thus signification to what was the ceaseless
hetereogeneity of the chora. Following Lacan, Kristeva posits the mirror
phase as the first step that permits 'the constitution of objects detached
from the semiotic chora,' and the Oedipal phase with its threat of castration
as the moment in which the process of separation or splitting is fully
achieved. Once the subject has entered into the symbolic order, the chora
will be more or less successfully repressed and can be perceived only
as a pulsional pressure on or within symbolic language.... It constitutes
the heterogeneous, disruptive dimension of language..." (KR: 13) This
is the core of Kristeva's theory of transgression, as the heterogeneous
other to the symbolic order."
I was thinking something just
like that the other day. Further down in the article, I found
"Kristeva starts by describing the abject as something
which is neither subject nor object, but an untolerable threat against
a not-yet formed subject. It is not a defineable object but something
violently expelled, abjected. In her own words: "What is abject ...
is radically excluded and draws me towards the place where meaning collapses....
On the edge of non-existence and hallucination..." (PH: 2) The abject
is thus something which threatens the subject and its boundaries, something
which must be excluded. Kristeva describes food loathing as "perhaps
the most elementary and archaic form of abjection" (ibid.) She exemplifies
it by the skin on the surface of milk, a primary substance associated
with the mother's body. She mentions the corpse as another example: "refuse
and corpses show me what I permanently thrust aside in order to live....
There, I am at the border of my condition as a living being." (PH: 4)
In more structural terms: "It is thus not lack of cleanliness or health
that causes abjection but what disturbs identity, system, order. What does
not respect borders, positions, rules. The in-between, the ambiguous, the
composite." (PH: 5) Kristeva underlines the importance of this ambiguous
aspect of the abject: "We may call it a border; abjection is above all
ambiguity. Because, while releasing a hold, it does not radically cut
off the subject from what threatens it... Abjection preserves what existed
in the archaism of pre-objectal relationship, in the immemorial violence
with which a body becomes separated from another body in order to be..."
may be on to something here. Oh, well..........like I said,
it was just an idea I had and I had no clue it may fit some category
November 23, 2005
I took the car to Salina yesterday to have the gear
shift fixed since it wouldn't always go from park into reverse
or drive, especially if it's colder. If I had known how simple
it was going to be to remedy the situation by shooting some brake
cleaner and lubrication on the shaft where the solenoid under the gear
shift lever is located, I could have done it myself. On the way
home I made a stop at a place I'd never visited before, even though
it's not far from home; Mushroom State Park. It has some really
unusual rock formations, so I did a few
photos of some
of them while I walked around.
It looks like the weather is starting to get cold.
I'm in the process of finding a place warm enough to work
on the car so new additions will be posted as they happen.
November 25 & 26, 2005
A few things were accomplished with the mannequin. I found
a place that had a band
saw big enough to do the cutting I needed, and I had the head removed, along with the lower
torso. Following that, I put some "hair" on the head and drilled
holes where LED lights will be placed in the eyes. Some painting was done on the torso
to dress him up, and some tools were given to him for use in his
work. I'm not sure what is being said here as they look at each
other in the positions
they'll be placed in on the roof of the car, but this is the view looking
toward him from the position
of the head.
December 31, 2005
I received an e-mail from Erika today, and, in it, she proposed
a name for the car I REALLY liked and decided to adopt. Erika
suggested "ChewBaru - The Mobile Masticator." Changes
in the page will be made to reflect the new name which will replace
the one I had been using, but really had not liked that much. Thank
April 3, 2006
Things have been moving at an agonizingly slow pace as
a result of the weather and some unexpected events, but here is where
it stands right now. I got the trunk covered with dental
molds and some tools, I got the hood almost covered with
dentures and denture pieces, and the roof has what's-his-name
up there now. Overall, the car looks like this. Within the next
night or two I should have the roof covered with denture pieces, and
I hope to have the spaces between the dentures and denture pieces filled
in more with individual teeth. I have some other material on the way from
some eBay auctions and that stuff will be placed on the sides when I get
April 4, 2006
The pace has picked up. I've been able to work
on it the past two evenings and things are progressing, finally. I've
been working on the roof
of the car, and here it is seen from another angle. The
hood will have more on it than this, but it's getting closer.
Here is a photo of the entire car, although the
trunk can't be seen. Work on the sides should start this weekend.
April 22, 2006
Work on the sides didn't start that weekend. As usual, things
take much longer than I anticipate and unexpected events take place, too.
I've been working on it but just haven't posted any updates. A
few days ago I did this
shot when I pulled it inside for the night, and, just yesterday, I received
these goodies from one
of my good friends who is an electronics wizard. Actually, I have several
friends who fit that category, but Tom tackled this project for the camera
system I have in the car. He made a box that does things I won't
reveal here and it works perfectly!!
I have been putting photos and illustrations from old dental school
books on the sides of the car and managed to make progress today. Here's
the right front, the
passenger side door,
the right rear, and part
of the driver's side door.
The passenger side
looks like this as of this evening. It took me a while to figure out
how best to stick the photos and illustrations to the car, but once I mastered
that, the pace picked up again. Also, I had some more donations of
toothbrushes and toothpaste tubes which also helped the effort.
April 29, 2006
I'm getting closer
to having everything on it I've been able to acquire so far. 75 pounds
of recycled dentures don't go as far as you think they might when you
get them spread out and glued down all over a car.............
May 9, 2006
I went out for a little drive this evening to see
how it handled on the road. While out, I discovered Curt and Chet were at Curt's place so
I stopped there to show them. It's quiet on the road and you'd never
think anything was out of the ordinary, except for the rubbernecking I noticed
as I drove around. We've done all we can do
with the time and materials on hand, so it's time for us to hit the road to Houston.
May 19, 2009
A lot has happened since the ChewBaru first hit the road three
years ago. I hit a deer in southern Arizona after leaving Harrod
Blank's museum, four days after it first hit the road. However, I
didn't lose any dentures since the GOOP Marine glue holds really well. So
far the ChewBaru has been in Houston three times, Omaha three times, Tulsa
twice, Seattle once (with second trip coming in June, 2009), Corning, Iowa
once (with second trip coming in July, 2009), Louisville, KY, once (with
second trip coming in August, 2009), and Eureka Springs, AR, this coming
weekend. It took a third place in Houston last year. Although
it wasn't driven to attend any art car shows, I also took it to Palm Springs,
CA, in January, 2009. As usual, whether driving the ChewBaru or the
BugWing, amazing people are encountered every time I take one of them out
for a trip.
Here, you'll find a few
photos of it taken during the past three years, and here's what it looks like
This photo was done at the Tulsa Art Car Weekend in May, 2009 so it could
be used in making postcards. I fired it off to a good friend of mine
who does graphics work and just told her what I'd like it to say on the front
and back. I cut her loose to come up with something and here's what
she did. It was WAY beyond my expectations!!