Arts How to Show Cars
posted by October 27 at 11:03 AMon
I have a fond memory of the last time I shopped at an auto showroom. I was around nine years old, my single mother’s old red clunking GM had kicked it in the middle of the street outside K-Mart, and I watched as she got tough with a salesman who was trying to blow her over like a pair of walking eyelashes on the subject of a used purple Pontiac. (We had attempted to enlist a beard for the day, but no men had been available, so we trucked around looking for a deal, wearing brown and trying to seem huskily competent.)
I’m sure people are still going into auto showrooms to buy cars these days (evidently, as the NYT reports this week, auto dealerships are looking for design inspirations from theme parks and carnivals), but to me they just seem like a thing of the past, like cigar bars or overnight hair curlers. Even my mother, after two and a half decades of the nightly routine, doesn’t wear those anymore.
What’s funny is that when the new Seattle Art Museum opens downtown in May, it will look like a car dealership. I don’t mean this in a demeaning way: the design deliberately toys with a retail appearance, which may be the most interesting thing about it from the outside. The front wall will be glass, and visible from First Avenue—you can see the line of white Ford Tauruses parked in there now, waiting to be installed—will be Cai Guo-Qiang’s installation Inopportune: Stage One. (To see a short video narrated by the artist of the piece in its original incarnation at Mass MOCA, click here.)