Tuesday, August 10, 2010


When I was younger my family lived in Germany. We were stationed there twice because my dad was a band director in the Army. What an oxymoron: an artist in the Military.  At that time in the late 70's there were countless Volkswagon beetles on the city streets. We had a daschund my sister named "lady bug" after the VW. Very fitting. But now, as an adult, I don't see VW Beetles as round lady-bugs. They're more like snails. Slow moving artifacts. A novel keepsake. An old design from recent past. An afterthought. Their motors sputter.  Engine powered from behind.  Tiny interior.  Maybe room for a small friend, perseco, and a picnic basket?  They can't compete with the cars of today. As my dad would say about the present automobile, "they all look the same... designed in a damn wind-tunnel".

VW was founded by the Socialist trade union German Labor Front. The name "volkswagon" literally means "peoples car" in German. It was a liberating concept to provide affordable vehicles at that time (1930/40's) for average citizens when automobiles were considered such an extreme luxury.

The beetle, lady bug, veedub etc. was what our i-touch, i-phone, i-tunes is to our generation today: providing "accessibility" at somewhat affordable prices. But our current world is dressed fast. In immediacy, real-time, "mach schnell"! My technical devices seem to be extensions of my body, like a hand I can't live without. Texting, surfing, facebooking, blogging my way through space and time. Feeling total panic when my cellphone battery dies because I forgot to plug it in for the last 6 days and I'm downtown trying to meet up with friends. At that point I'm completely incapable of doing anything. I become useless as the anxiety kicks in, realizing I don't have "access"... this faux life-line that connects me to my little world. I've only been introduced to this speed in the last 5 years. And now I can't remember what I did in the previous 30yrs without all my gadgets?

Reflecting back on my "youth"... the VW beetle isn't an afterthought.  It's still a reality.  It's a treasure.  A symbol.  An iconic vehicle that reminds us of the world that "had" existed.  And ultimately it reminds us of what still exists today?  I really like the snail. Versatile in it's mobility. House on it's back.  Traversing through Berlin eating a little Falafel Döner. Unfettered. Adaptable. Deliberate.  A true free-spirit.  I have to remind myself to take it slow.  Pay attention to detail.  Stop and smell the roses.  I make a point to find time for perseco and picnics... just as long as I remember to plug my phone in the night before.

Carving in progress with sketched city and kebab.
Creating background and frame.
New "water-based" sludgy stain I was worried about.  I made numerous "tests" before applying it to this carving.  I was still a bit nervous with a new stain.  But it seemed to work out well.
This is one step away (gloss finish, black oil paint)

1 comment:

  1. So I see you like to write as well as carve. Great story about your stay in Germany and about the origin of the Volkswagen.