@story MARLA CANTRELL
@image MARK MUNDORFF
What does your car say about you? Maybe it says you’re a responsible citizen who has your tags renewed on time. Or maybe there’s a little decal on the back windshield that shows cartoon images of your three happy kids, a scruffy dog, and a smiling cat.
That’s all well and good, but it can’t compare to the car Jane Peoples transformed for Rebecca Buchannan, the director of Ozark Folkways in Winslow.
Jane, an artist in Van Buren, is known for her 3-D assemblage pieces, where she uses everything from miniature globes, board game pieces, and even old engine parts, to create incredible artwork. But she also worked at a sign shop for a time. There was a great deal of waste involved. Decals were printed on large sheets, and once the images and letters were pulled away, the background was useless.
Except to Jane. “I think some of my coworkers thought I was crazy to take all this vinyl home, but I knew I’d find a place for it.”
And she did. It happened around Christmas of 2011, when Rebecca saw Jane at a party. Rebecca had recently sold her top-of-the-line car to get rid of the three years of remaining payments. She found a dependable 1993 Toyota wagon that had been babied its entire life. It was a great buy; it just lacked pizzazz.
So Rebecca asked Jane if she’d be willing to give it a facelift. Jane sorted through her inventory of vinyl and the images started emerging. She made a blue dragon with metallic spots, a red god holding the sun, the Statue Of Liberty awash in a blaze of stars, and a chimney sweep with the head of a skeleton. “I love Frida Kahlo and anything to do with the tradition of ‘Day of the Dead,’” Rebecca says, “so I wanted skulls and crosses and other wild things, moving in multiple directions.”
That was the only direction Rebecca gave. And Jane, she’s not one on making a big master plan. “The work will tell you what it wants to be,” Jane says. “You just have to listen.” She did listen, waking some nights from a deep sleep and jotting down where a particular decal should go.
Jane logged 100 hours in just three weeks, battling the the heat and humidity, and battling the car, whose physical nature threw a curve in her plans. “Basically you've got a flat decal that you have to smooth onto a rounded surface,” Jane says. “There’s not a surface on this car that's flat.” She had to work around grooves, moldings, and gaps – like around the doors - where the vinyl had to be cut to fit.
Some of the decals are made with pieces no bigger than a fingernail clipping. Combined they make incredible images, like the Headless Horseman, and a compass on the roof with the night sky’s constellations nearby. On one side sea waves break, turning to flames and finally to delicate fall leaves. A hand hovers over the gas cap, a clover above it, and a family of aliens stands watch on the roofline. On the driver’s door is Rebecca’s name, in Old English script, that looks a lot like a tattoo. It’s no accident. “This whole process is like getting a tattoo. Almost no one has just one,” Jane says. “That’s how the car is. I look at a spot and think, I need to put another decal here.”
The car is filled with so many images, looking at it is like going on a treasure hunt. And Jane loves that. “I stepped back at one point and said, ‘Wow, did I do that?’” She’s glad Rebecca sought her out. She’s glad Rebecca trusted her to turn this little wagon into a rolling work of art.To see more of Jane’s work, visit http://community.webtv.net/jainsart/Jainsart
Check out Ozark Folkways at ozarkfolkways.com