ChewBaru - The Mobile Masticator
(Thank you, Erika, for suggesting this name)

It wasn't until I was "discovered" by Erika Nelson that I realized the BugWing was also an art car.  I had followed art car stuff online periodically since 1997,  and had followed one particular art car artist with his car until it died, but it had never occurred to me to think of the BugWing as an art car, or to attend art car events in it.  After my first trip to Omaha for the Central Art Car Exhibit and Celebration in 2004, followed by the art car show in Hastings, NE, right after that, though, I knew I'd be a part of the art car world in some way since I had such a good time with the people I started meeting.  When I returned from those shows I talked to one of my sisters who had a 1995 Subaru Legacy that she bought in 1999, only to have it totaled by hail in 2000.  She continued driving it until she bought a new car in 2004.  I told her I'd take it, and the photo above shows how it appeared when I made a deal with her.  The hail damage doesn't look bad in that photo, but it's the worst hail damage I've ever seen on a car. Mechanically, though, it's fine.  

In 2005, I decided to skip what had been an annual run to the motorcycle rally in Sturgis, SD, since 1991 (with the exception of 1994), and use my vacation time to go to art car events.  The first one in 2005 was my run to Houston for the biggest art car show in the country, where I was very surprised to win a first place with the BugWing.  I also had another trip to Omaha scheduled for August, and I was scheduled to make the first-ever Route 6 Nebraska Art Car Tour that went all the way across Nebraska on Route 6, from Omaha to the Colorado border.  

After I bought the Subaru, I started thinking about what I was going to do with it.  Several ideas came to me, and I even started pursuing some of them by getting some materials.  However,  none of them really grabbed me.  It was while going to sleep one night somewhere in western Nebraska while on the Route 6 Art Car Tour that the idea for the ChewBaru came into my head!!  One of my favorite cars in Houston this year was "Handy," (here's a close-up of one part of it) and, while going to sleep that one night I thought of that car and wondered what other part of the body could be represented on a car.  As soon as I had that thought, the idea of dentures came to me.  I knew then what I was going to do!!

The next day I shared my idea with someone for the first time and the comment comment I heard was, "Sick!!"  After I came back home from the Route 6 Art Car Tour, I  told my daughter.  Her comment was, "Gross!!"  However, she did also suggest the name "Gumby" and she wants to drive it to work some time, even though she says it's "sick stuff."  When I approached one of my cousins who is a dentist and asked him if he could be any help finding discarded dentures for an art project I had in mind,  I saw his face contort in a way I've never seen on him before.  When that happened (and the look stayed on his face the whole time we talked)  I REALLY knew I was on to a good idea and I had to do it.  When I told him what I was actually going to do, he asked that I spell my last name with a "U" instead of an "E."  I told him I'd hang a large banner on the car advertising his practice.  He declined my offer.

Right away I started looking for dentures on eBay. Not surprisingly, dentures are for sale, but what did surprise me was the fact there was actually a demand for them.  I'm not sure what those sick puppies are doing with them, but they were going for prices that would have left me broke in short order if I had to buy enough of them to do this car for the prices they were bringing.  I had a few e-mail exchanges with one dental student who was selling dentures he made on eBay, and one guy was kind enough to donate a number of dentures and dental molds.  Since I wasn't sure how molds would hold up in the weather, I decided to dip them in Varathane and then let them dry.  Close up, this is what some of them look like.  

In addition, I bought a number of tools from a couple of people, and I also bought some individual dentures that were too good to pass up.  I also bought a large number of individual teeth that are used in making dentures.  
Some people I bought an upper plate from even had a sense of humor and included a box of mints with the teeth I bought from them.  Eventually, I won an auction for 75 pounds of recycled dentures, and I started soaking them in bleach water in the sink, and in a five gallon bucket, even after they had been recycled in what appears to have been a hot environment.  After they were subjected to the bleach water, I then had to sort and "grade" the pieces from the 75-pound box of recycled dentures I purchased.  

In addition to the dentures and molds, I also found some large teeth that were apparently used in a dental school somewhere, and I bought a couple of articulators used in making dentures, along with some large teeth and a toothbrush apparently used for demonstration purposes. 
I've learned some things (not many) about dentistry while gathering materials  for this car.  In addition to the dental stuff, I've also purchased some very small wireless infrared night vision video cameras that will be incorporated into the design to record people viewing the car, and/or vandalizing it.  

On November 6, 2005, I took the car to the car wash, and then did a series of photos of it before I got started putting things on it.  I did one photo of the entire car, another one of the front of the car that shows the hail damage a bit more clearly, and one of the rear of the car.  Finally, I did a photo of the top of the car, and second one of the top while standing closer.  Look good since it's all about to change radically.  Before long, I'll place this bumper sticker on it.  It was given to me by a friend from Minneapolis who may know something about what the sticker says since he used to drive this.

After doing those photos in one of the local parks, I glued on the uppers I bought from the people who sent the mints, and I also glued some individual teeth on the grill below those uppers that now serve as the hood ornament.  I'm using some stuff called "Goop," and I'll use clear silicone and E-6000 for some of the gluing of objects.  I thought about using my 1986 BMW 325es seen in the background, but the mannequin will interfere with the sunroof.   Stay tuned for a LOT of additions since I'm preparing to move it into a garage where I can lay my teeth and other stuff out and get serious about gluing and screwing stuff to it.   100+ pounds of stuff I have so far will probably not be enough, though.  

November 21, 2005

All this creativity, combined with my usual work,  takes its toll on me and wears me out so I took the week off from my "normal" job and decided to devote myself to the car. The day started by going to the post office where I had a surprise waiting on me.  Tami and Ed (second and third from the right, back row), two new art car artists I met for the first time in Omaha in August of this year and got to yuck it up with all the way across Nebraska on the Route 6 Art Car Tour, mailed two teeth to me; one of which was a gold tooth!!  Of course, it didn't take long for me to glue those two attached teeth in a place of honor in the car.  They're now on top of my rear view mirror, right in the middle.  I didn't have my close up stuff with me so you'll have to wait on a photo.  I happened to be sitting with Tami and Ed, and Anne, one evening in the Pioneer Village restaurant in Minden, NE, when I nicknamed Anne "Dymbagg" (Tami's idea to spell it that way). It's a long story, but that, and other stuff related to it, amused us for the rest of the trip and still does......doesn't it, Anne?

It may not look like I accomplished a lot today (because I didn't), but I did manage to get a piece of plexiglas cut and bent for the demonstration teeth, and I had it bent so they'd appear to be "open."  These will be mounted on the neck of the mannequin I will acquire somewhere, some time, and it will be mounted on the roof of the car, near the back.  I added a red LED light to the lower part that will illuminate the mouth.  You'll have to wait to see what I do with the hands of the mannequin.  I also painted the eyes of this guy who will accompany me on my travels for some reason, and I got some wire, glue, screws and bolts,  and other materials I'll need for some of the ideas I have.  

I did have some interesting e-mail  from three friends today.   Their comments were:

(1)  Rex,

You are sick, sick, sick.  Your daughter is right.  Gumby is sick and gross.  <grin>. But you know, your link was one of the more entertaining websites I have visited recently.  Thanks for making my day.  I am sure your "current project" will keep you young.  I wish you Godspeed. Got to stimulate those brain cells on somehow, right?  I don't care what you do, just keep active.

And you know, like you, I once had a used 1986 325ES.  Now I have a Subaru Outback.  It is similar to your Subaru Legacy, but I am not going to glue dentures to it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

(2)   Perfect timing...just got off the phone with my daughter, having a conversation in which almost everything was funnier that the sum of the conversations' parts!  Then I opened up this email.  My, oh my, oh my, oh my!!!!!  All I can say at this point is: you REALLY ARE secure!!!

This whole idea of Gumby and, well, the world of art car-ing, is going to take a little getting used to.  May I please have some time to digest the whole concept?   ---   Thank you.

If there are ANY lulls in our (partial family) Thanksgiving get-together, we'll be crowded around the computer monitor later this week.  Fortunately, I got a new, larger monitor this past year.

Have a great Thanks-to-God-giving......

(3)  ... you've officially lost your marbles!!

({c;  hehehehehhehe

Have fun!!!!*

November 22, 2005

I had a meeting with Erika and Karla at Erika's place in Lucas today.  Karla works for the Salina (KS) Arts and Humanities Commission and asked the two of us to help with the planning of the invitational art car event that will be part of the upcoming 30th Annual Smoky Hill River Festival in Salina, KS,  June 8 - 11, 2006.  This is a big event in Salina and one I've attended previously and enjoyed a lot.  The art car part is new, however, and this was our second meeting to go over some things related to that.  

During our meeting, we took a break at one point and I presented Karla and Erika with some teeth.  That's all they're getting for Christmas.  After I made my presentation, Erika brought out a small container and presented me with a wisdom tooth her friend Tish gave to her after it was removed from her jaw when they were 12 years old.  When we completed our planning meeting, Erika was asked to place it anywhere she wanted to place it in the car, so she chose this spot on the rear view mirror and glued it in place. I also asked Erika to glue the first piece to the car (other than the one I put on the hood last week) since she is the one who was first to invite me to art car events.  I had a number of pieces with me that she could choose from, so she chose a mold and glued it onto the trunk.   Her pickup, Scout, is sitting in the background, and her bus can be seen here.  In addition to those vehicles she will also be getting a new bus to take the place of the old one.  This link also contains another link to the story of the trip made to get the new bus.

I think art often does, and probably should, evoke emotion when we view it, and I think it often, but not always, reflects some emotion(s) felt by the artist.............except in this case.  For me, I just had an idea that sounded like fun, and I see no hidden, deeper significance to it. While at Erika's place, though, I made a comment about the fact this project has seemed to stir some visceral reactions in some people.  The e-mail noted above from good friends who know me show some of that perhaps. Better examples may be found in the fact that some people I've purchased material from on eBay, who wanted to be informed how I was going to use it and asked me periodically, have been totally silent after they were informed.  Erika commented on my experience, and, with her art knowledge and background, mentioned a particular category of art into which this project could be placed.  That was news to me since, as I said, it was just an idea I had.  

I did a little research on that category.  For example, one person had posted a long article that included references to this category, and others.  One small segment related to this category said:

Psychoanalytic theory became increasingly important in Julia Kristeva's work during the seventies, as she began to theorize the workings of poetic, transgressive language. In her work from this era she envisions the signifying process as a dynamic consisting of two processes which together make up any production of meaning: the semiotic and the symbolic, concepts directly related to the psychoanalytic theories of Jacques Lacan. According to Moi, "Kristeva transforms Lacan's distinction between the imaginary and the symbolic order into a distinction between the semiotic and the symbolic," this being part of Kristeva's examination of "the status of the subject and of the question of identity in psychoanalysis." (KR: 12)

   To describe the semiotic Kristeva introduces the somewhat obscure term chora. It is borrowed from Plato's dialogue Timaeus and means in Greek "mark", "receptacle" and "womb." Plato understands this term as something nourishing and maternal, with strong feminine connotations. It is describe by Kristeva as: "an essentially mobile and extremely provisional articulation constituted by movements and their ephemeral stases.... Neither model nor copy, the chora precedes and underlies figuration and thus specularization, and is analogous only to vocal or kinetic rhythm." (KR: 94). The chora is a pre-symbolic instance, a "rhythmic space," the psychosomatic origin of meaning. It is deprived of unity or identity, but is nevertheless somehow organized. Kristeva describes it as an "ordering of the drives" through its being subject to "natural or sociohistorical constraints such as the biological difference between the sexes or family structure". (ibid)

   When the child enters the symbolic order of language the chora becomes repressed, while continuing to be a heterogeneous force inside the symbolic. In the words of Moi, following Kristeva: "The semiotic continuum must be split if signification is to be produced.... [This] enabling the subject to attribute differences and thus signification to what was the ceaseless hetereogeneity of the chora. Following Lacan, Kristeva posits the mirror phase as the first step that permits 'the constitution of objects detached from the semiotic chora,' and the Oedipal phase with its threat of castration as the moment in which the process of separation or splitting is fully achieved. Once the subject has entered into the symbolic order, the chora will be more or less successfully repressed and can be perceived only as a pulsional pressure on or within symbolic language.... It constitutes the heterogeneous, disruptive dimension of language..." (KR: 13) This is the core of Kristeva's theory of transgression, as the heterogeneous other to the symbolic order.

 I was thinking something just like that the other day.  Further down in the article, I found this paragraph:

Kristeva starts by describing the abject as something which is neither subject nor object, but an untolerable threat against a not-yet formed subject. It is not a defineable object but something violently expelled, abjected. In her own words: "What is abject ... is radically excluded and draws me towards the place where meaning collapses.... On the edge of non-existence and hallucination..." (PH: 2) The abject is thus something which threatens the subject and its boundaries, something which must be excluded. Kristeva describes food loathing as "perhaps the most elementary and archaic form of abjection" (ibid.) She exemplifies it by the skin on the surface of milk, a primary substance associated with the mother's body. She mentions the corpse as another example: "refuse and corpses show me what I permanently thrust aside in order to live.... There, I am at the border of my condition as a living being." (PH: 4) In more structural terms: "It is thus not lack of cleanliness or health that causes abjection but what disturbs identity, system, order. What does not respect borders, positions, rules. The in-between, the ambiguous, the composite." (PH: 5) Kristeva underlines the importance of this ambiguous aspect of the abject: "We may call it a border; abjection is above all ambiguity. Because, while releasing a hold, it does not radically cut off the subject from what threatens it... Abjection preserves what existed in the archaism of pre-objectal relationship, in the immemorial violence with which a body becomes separated from another body in order to be..."

He (she) may be on to something here.  Oh, I said, it was just an idea I had and I had no clue it may fit some category in art.

November 23, 2005

I took the car to Salina yesterday to have the gear shift fixed since it wouldn't always go from park into reverse or drive, especially if it's colder.  If I had known how simple it was going to be to remedy the situation by shooting some brake cleaner and lubrication on the shaft where the solenoid under the gear shift lever is located, I could have done it myself.  On the way home I made a stop at a place I'd never visited before, even though it's not far from home; Mushroom State Park.  It has some really unusual rock formations, so I did a few photos of some of them while I walked around.

It looks like the weather is starting to get cold.  I'm in the process of finding a place warm enough to work on the car so new additions will be posted as they happen.  

November 25 & 26, 2005

A few things were accomplished with the mannequin. I found a place that had a band saw big enough to do the cutting I needed, and I had the head removed, along with the lower torso.  Following that, I put some "hair" on the head and drilled holes where LED lights will be placed in the eyes.  Some painting was done on the torso to dress him up, and some tools were given to him for use in his work.  I'm not sure what is being said here as they look at each other in the positions they'll be placed in on the roof of the car, but this is the view looking toward him from the position of the head. 

December 31, 2005

I received an e-mail from Erika today, and, in it, she proposed a name for the car I REALLY liked and decided to adopt.  Erika suggested "ChewBaru - The Mobile Masticator."  
Changes in the page will be made to reflect the new name which will replace the one I had been using, but really had not liked that much.  Thank you, Erika!!

April 3, 2006

Things have been moving at an agonizingly slow pace as a result of the weather and some unexpected events, but here is where it stands right now.  I got the trunk covered with dental molds and some tools, I got the hood almost covered with dentures and denture pieces, and the roof has what's-his-name up there now.  Overall, the car looks like this. Within the next night or two I should have the roof covered with denture pieces, and I hope to have the spaces between the dentures and denture pieces filled in more with individual teeth. I have some other material on the way from some eBay auctions and that stuff will be placed on the sides when I get it.........

April 4, 2006

The pace has picked up.  I've been able to work on it the past two evenings and things are progressing, finally.  I've been working on the roof of the car, and here it is seen from another angle.  The hood will have more on it than this, but it's getting closer.  Here is a photo of the entire car, although the trunk can't be seen.  Work on the sides should start this weekend.

April 22, 2006

Work on the sides didn't start that weekend.  As usual, things take much longer than I anticipate and unexpected events take place, too.  I've been working on it but just haven't posted any updates.  A few days ago I did this shot when I pulled it inside for the night, and, just yesterday, I received these goodies from one of my good friends who is an electronics wizard.  Actually, I have several friends who fit that category, but Tom tackled this project for the camera system I have in the car.  He made a box that does things I won't reveal here and it works perfectly!!  

I have been putting photos and illustrations from old dental school books on the sides of the car and managed to make progress today.  Here's the right front, the passenger side door, the right rear, and part of the driver's side door.  The passenger side looks like this as of this evening.  It took me a while to figure out how best to stick the photos and illustrations to the car, but once I mastered that, the pace picked up again.  Also, I had some more donations of toothbrushes and toothpaste tubes which also helped the effort.

April 29, 2006

I'm getting closer to having everything on it I've been able to acquire so far.  75 pounds of recycled dentures don't go as far as you think they might when you get them spread out and glued down all over a car.............

May 9, 2006

I went out for a little drive this evening to see how it handled on the road.  While out, I discovered Curt and Chet were at Curt's place so I stopped there to show them.  It's quiet on the road and you'd never think anything was out of the ordinary, except for the rubbernecking I noticed as I drove around.  We've done all we can do with the time and materials on hand, so it's time for us to hit the road to Houston.

May 19, 2009

A lot has happened since the ChewBaru first hit the road three years ago.  I hit a deer in southern Arizona after leaving Harrod Blank's museum, four days after it first hit the road.  However, I didn't lose any dentures since the GOOP Marine glue holds really well.  So far the ChewBaru has been in Houston three times, Omaha three times, Tulsa twice, Seattle once (with second trip coming in June, 2009), Corning, Iowa once (with second trip coming in July, 2009), Louisville, KY, once (with second trip coming in August, 2009), and Eureka Springs, AR, this coming weekend.  It took a third place in Houston last year.  Although it wasn't driven to attend any art car shows, I also took it to Palm Springs, CA, in January, 2009.  As usual, whether driving the ChewBaru or the BugWing, amazing people are encountered every time I take one of them out for a trip.

Here, you'll find a few photos of it taken during the past three years, and here's what it looks like now:

This photo was done at the Tulsa Art Car Weekend in May, 2009 so it could be used in making postcards.  I fired it off to a good friend of mine who does graphics work and just told her what I'd like it to say on the front and back.  I cut her loose to come up with something and here's what she did.
 I knew it would be good, but what she did was was WAY beyond my expectations!!