Miami Beach’s iconic skyline is famous for its Art Deco style of architecture that combines vivid colors with neon lights and modern design to create a unique viewing experience, one that is more often than not observed from inside of a vehicle. Once a year, Ocean Drive is shut down so that pedestrians can enjoy everything Art Deco. This past Saturday and Sunday at the 2010 Art Deco Weekend, crowds of people flocked to South Beach were they could stroll up and down the beachside street taking in everything from ethnic foods and live music to art and thanks to the Antique Automobile Club of America’s South Florida chapter, quite a few classic cars.
Despite the gloomy overcast skies the antiques were polished to a brilliant shine. The automotive related activities included a parade of pony cars being led by a bright orange Firebird Formula with everything from fox body mustangs to a GT500 Cobra in tow for the stroll up A1A belting out a high horse muscle car power anthem from their loud chrome pipes. The static classics on display ranged from a silver Porsche 356 to a Rolls Royce Silver Cloud with more patina then you could shake a stick at and even included a few of the more unique four wheeled fanatics, like the couple who showed up in flat black VW sand rail complete with pet pythons. We had our first encounter with a classic TVR, a little red English sports car, and we also got a good look at the upholstery on a classic Mustang. It was only after seeing the herds of stallions on each individual backrests that you remember just how much thought and detail went into the automobiles of yesterday, unlike the cookie cutter mass produced machines of today.
As we made our way up the promenade admiring the three dimensional sculptures on wheels, we also happened to run across a local artist with a unique gift at capturing classic cars on canvas. Practicing photography for over a quarter of a century has allowed Rick Howell to develop his own blend of Photo=Art. Starting off with high resolution digital photography, Rick is then able to add in or take away from the original to create an all new intricately detailed work of art, making it hard to believe that they are actually paintings. Mr. Howell explained that he chose classic cars as his medium of choice not only because of his love for the automobile, but because the cars he shoots have a living history from back when cars had soul, after all it is highly unlikely that anyone will be hanging up photos of their 2010 Toyota 50 years from now. People have the ability to develop a unique bond with automobiles, for example one of his clients saw a full size version of Rick’s ‘65 Mustang and just had to have it. The painting reminded the customer of a car his dad had restored and taking the piece home was just as much about rekindling the memories of his father as it was the Mustang. Despite the gray skies and ominous weather, the 2010 Art Deco Weekend on Miami Beach was a celebration of art, cars and culture that will stick out in our minds for quite some time to come.