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Bugwing & chewbaru

Rex with ChewBaru and Sunset 2_edited.jpg

Meet the Artist

I am a native of Central Kansas, and a former Navy CTR in the Vietnam Era, and retired mental health professional with a passion for photography, art cars, and motorcycles. I built two custom "art cars" with unique attributes that got people talking. For example, the ChewBaru has become well-known for many appearances at events all over the country, in addition to being featured in a documentary seen in 16 film festivals in the U.S.A. and six other countries. Below you can read about the two custom builds I created and the stories behind them. BugWing and ChewBaru are truly unique works of art that have been featured at countless car shows and on national media!


The Bugwing 

The idea for the BugWing custom trike developed in 1998 while riding a motorcycle on one of 15 trips to and from the rally in Sturgis, SD. Within a week of having the idea an old VW was spotted in a guy’s yard while I was out on a lunch break, so I knocked on his door, asked if it was for sale, and made a deal with him.

That weekend I made some measurements in my attempt to determine how much to cut out of the body and went to work, even though I didn’t have a motorcycle yet to put into it. A section was cut out of the body, but then those sections sat for three years since I didn’t have a tubing bender with which to make a frame, nor did I have she skills to do all the work needed anyway. I then purchased a GoldWing motorcycle from a cousin to put into it.

Three years after cutting the section out of the VW body I had a conversation with a co-worker who was married to a guy who raced funny cars at drag strips. After expressing my frustration to her about not making any progress on my idea that was now over three years old, she told me about a guy who built cars for the drag strip and also did tech inspections on cars at the track. I approached him, explained my idea, and then he and another guy who built high-end sand rails took the project on, each doing what they specialized in doing in their own shops.

Eight months later, in 2002, it rolled out of their shops, completed. The longest trip it has been taken on from Central Kansas was to Washington, DC, in May, 2003, on the Run For The Wall. It took First Place in its category at the largest art car event in the world in Houston, Texas, May, 2005. In addition, I drove it to and from the rally in Sturgis twice, and it has been involved in other art car events and many motorcycle rallies.

Original Bugwing - before restoration.jpeg
Rex with Bugwing.jpeg


After attending several art car events with the BugWing, I decided I wanted to glue something to something myself in order to do a more “conventional” art car. Shortly after making that decision I purchased a 1995 Subaru Legacy from a sister, after it had been totaled in a hail storm. It was still very sound mechanically, however, so I started brainstorming for ideas about what I could do to transform it into an art car.

After a year of thinking about possible themes, the idea to cover the car with dentures came to me while traveling in the BugWing across the State of Nebraska on a week-long art car tour in September, 2005.

I started a search on eBay immediately and could find dentures for sale, but the price for a single upper or lower usually ran between $25.00 and $40.00. After a few months of searching and running into the same prices, I decided I’d have to abandon that idea and do something else. However, I thought I’d try one more search that evening before I gave up on the dental theme.


To my surprise, I found a 75-pound box of recycled dentures for sale by a recycler in California, so I bid on the box and won the auction! After the box arrived I soaked all those dentures in a strong bleach solution and then went to work in April, 2006, gluing them to the car. I also told family, friends, and co-workers I needed anything related to dentistry to glue to the car, and I started getting all kinds of donations.During that month I used all the materials I had gathered up to that point in time, including hundreds of photos and illustrations I cut from old dental school books to place on the sides of the car, and then took it to the Houston Art Car Parade in May, 2006, to its first event.Since that time it has been driven to 75+ major art car events in places such as Houston, TX, Tulsa, OK, Baltimore, MD, Pensacola, FL, Chattanooga, TN, Louisville, KY, Omaha, NE, Minneapolis, MN, Seattle, WA, Trinidad, CO, and Alpine, TX, along with many smaller events in surrounding states, and locally, that were not specifically art car events, in addition to countless parades and art walks.


Chewbaru Before Pic.jpeg

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