It was a fortuitous moment for yours truly when the idea for Art On Wheels popped into my head in 2017, as this series, now comprising 11 stories, has brought me plenty of pleasure. An admirer of good-looking objects, I have become semi-addicted to tracking down attractively decorated trucks, vans and other wheeled vehicles, snapping their portraits and writing about the adventures.
This is especially true for parts eight through eleven of Art On Wheels, which are the four most recent episodes, because I initiated them by roaming the streets of Philadelphia on foot in search of prey. Prior to that, my main modus operandi had been to drive all over the frigging place in the Philadelphia suburbs (I live in those burbs), where I located vehicles in strip malls, loading docks and other non-descript places. I doubt if I’ll ever return to that method. I’d rather walk than drive, for one thing, and Philadelphia, unlike the burbs, is made for walking. What’s more, Philly is fascinating and full of energy. My suburban area doesn’t come close to fitting that description.
There I was, then, on a recent Friday morn, boarding a train in my sleepy town. Forty-five minutes later I bade the train farewell within Jefferson Station in central Philadelphia and headed outside to begin my mission. Past experience had shown me that lovingly adorned vehicles, some in motion, some parked along curbs, are not uncommon on Philadelphia’s streets. But would I encounter enough of them on my wanderings this day to illustrate a story? Was a dud of a day in store?
It wasn’t! Man, within three minutes of exiting the train station I saw, and photographed, several vehicles that passed muster: a delivery truck, a delivery van and a tour bus. I’m worried that the truck and bus might sue me or physically confront me, as I’ve decided that only the van, belonging to the Mini Melts ice cream company, is worthy of immortalization on my site. I tell you, being a beauty contest judge is cool, but there’s a darkish side to the gig.
Long walks and I agree with one another. And it was a long, zigzagging walk I took through a multitude of neighborhoods in Philadelphia, the city I know better than any other. After six and a half miles of pavement-pounding I decided to call it a day. I likely would have continued the expedition for another hour or so, but at around the six-mile mark, from out of the blue, my calf muscles cramped up outrageously. Shit, those f*ckers hurt like hell! I could barely move and had to lean against a building to prevent myself from sinking to the sidewalk. Amazingly, the pain soon mostly went away, but I wasn’t about to push my luck. So, I made my way to Jefferson Station and returned home. I’ve never had leg cramps like those before. If they ever decide to pay a return visit, I’m going to be royally pissed.
I’ve poured over the pix of the vehicles that posed for me during the trek. I’m avoiding overkill by presenting but six of the nearly 20 photos I snapped. They are the portraits I like best. My top two votes go to the trucks belonging to Allspec Construction and to Vision Furniture. They took my breath away when I crossed paths with them the other day, and their pictures continue to do so. The airiness and lightness of their designs make me say “ooh la la!”
Still, I have a clear favorite. Vision Furniture, in my book you are numero uno! Your chairs are the embodiment of happiness, barely restrained by gravity’s pull and delighted to be with one another. And your power goes beyond that: When I look at you, I hear piano music — melodies as carefree as kids at play — accompanying the flying chairs.
Well, maybe I’m getting carried away a bit. But hell, I can’t help myself. It’s the way I roll. Been doing it for decades. One thing I know for sure, in any event, is this: If Vision Furniture had been the only stellar vehicle I saw during my urban safari, I’d have deemed the day a success.