Kansas City artists get their own demolition derby.

Good Stupid Fun 

Kansas City artists get their own demolition derby.

Mac McClanahan is a walking contradiction. After doing graduate work in Boston (though he says he's dyslexic) and starting a ceramics career, he is now an artist-in-residence. His residency is not at a museum or a gallery but at a metal-fabrication facility called Wenzel Steel Works in Kansas City, Kansas, where he's been employed for the past three years.

He has recently pursued other interests: documentary filmmaking and demolition derbies. The latter will be most prominent at the Dirt Gallery on May 18, when McClanahan and some artist friends open Road to Ruin: Deconstructing Demolition Derby and Its Artifacts. Collectively, the artists call themselves We Ain't Stupid. That name comes directly from an experience at a demolition derby McClanahan attended in McLouth, Kansas.

"We were filming for the documentary [about demolition derbies] and were out in the pit," McClanahan recalls. He and his cronies were asking an older gentleman a lot of questions about his car, and the man decided he'd had enough of the inquiry. "He finally said, 'We ain't stupid,' and walked away," McClanahan says. A less courageous filmmaker might have considered shutting down the project, but the challenge just inspired McClanahan to keep working on the film.

New to derby culture, McClanahan has noticed that there's a certain egalitarianism to the events. "Because it takes five minutes of training," he says, "it doesn't matter if you're a man or a woman or what race you are as long as you can drive.

"At a couple I've been to, the crowd was throwing dirt clods at the cars," he adds. "This ain't NASCAR."

More than thirty artists have joined McClanahan's project, inspired by the fact that even the most battered car can be salvaged and redeemed as art. One piece making an appearance in Road to Ruin is an arched steel cart with the hood, fender, steering wheel and headers from one of McClanahan's derby cars suspended between its haunches -- "stretched out like an animal hide," McClanahan says.

Artist Peregrine Honig contributes a drawing of a derby pin-up girl named Daisy. The writing on the piece concludes with "All the drivers love her cause she's bad at keeping score."

Among the other contributors are Jim Leedy and David Ford. Music is provided by Estelle and Her Faith Healing Accordion as well as Rex Hobart and the Misery Boys. There will also be a raffle for an '85 Nova painted so that its surface, with the help of 3-D glasses, appears to be popping off its chassis. Still, it will be stripped and primed for a derby of its own. "I hope a woman wins it," McClanahan says.

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Steve Walker

  • Enuf Said

    InPlay goes somewhere over the rainbow.
    • Jun 9, 2005
  • The Professionals

    Irish eyes are smiling on this new theater troupe.
    • Jun 2, 2005
  • Sign Us Up

    Quid Pro Quo reverses hearing loss.
    • Jun 2, 2005
  • More »

Most Popular Stories

Facebook Activity

All contents ©2015 Kansas City Pitch LLC
All rights reserved. No part of this service may be reproduced in any form without the express written permission of Kansas City Pitch LLC,
except that an individual may download and/or forward articles via email to a reasonable number of recipients for personal, non-commercial purposes.

All contents © 2012 SouthComm, Inc. 210 12th Ave S. Ste. 100, Nashville, TN 37203. (615) 244-7989.
All rights reserved. No part of this service may be reproduced in any form without the express written permission of SouthComm, Inc.
except that an individual may download and/or forward articles via email to a reasonable number of recipients for personal, non-commercial purposes.
Website powered by Foundation