Skip to content

Six art students painted a 1982 BMW donated by alumnus Dick McClure.

  • Print
Arts and Culture

Students unveil art car

Mar 13, 2018

Six student artists from Pacific's Department of Art and Graphic Design over the winter transformed a 1982 BMW 320 into a work of art, maneuvering along the same road traveled by celebrated artists such as Andy Warhol, Alexander Calder and Roy Lichtenstein.

Along the way, the students learned about the rich history of the automobile as an art form.

The project to create car art was the brainchild of Stockton car collector and Pacific alumnus Dick McClure '78. In spring 2017, McClure shared his love of car history with Pacific art department chairs Brett DeBoer and Daniel Kasser, as well as the university's art curator, Lisa Cooperman. They said they were looking for student projects and McClure told them about BMW and other famous art cars of the past such as Janis Joplin's psychedelic Porsche. That's when they decided to create the Shifting Gears course and art car project.

McClure bought the BMW and donated it for the art car project last October during Homecoming weekend.

At the beginning, 17 students showed interest in the project, many more than could practically take part, so a competition was devised to select who would make the art car team. About a dozen interested artists selected a car hood or trunk at a Stockton junkyard and demonstrated their skills. Students were allowed to paint whatever they wanted on the hoods with the understanding that those designs would not necessarily be part of the finished car.

"That became both a blessing and a curse because it became really, really difficult to pick," DeBoer said. "The quality and the variety made it a very difficult choice."

In the end, six students were chosen whose work could stylistically mesh: Mia Arostigui '19, Olubori "Gabe" Babaoye '19, Crystal Baltoazar '21, Kyle Sabbatino '18, Danielle Thomasson '19 and Leila Valencia '19.

Local artist Carlos Lopez, car historian Michael Lamm and automotive photographer Phil Toy visited the campus, showed their work and shared their passion for classic cars in February before painting began. After weeks of prep work and design meetings in which the team developed a cohesive theme, painting officially began March 2.

"The final design process had to be one in which there was a synthesis," Kasser said. "Our responsibility as faculty is to teach them how to manage talent and to manage themselves. So, we set some pretty strong design criteria in terms of their capacity to do the work and their performance as students in the department." Kasser said developing the ability to defer, compromise and synthesize their style was among the most important lessons the Shifting Gears course provided. "To choose the theme of the car, we talked about the car's history and the fact that it's a German car," said Baltazar. "We had to compromise our styles with the other artists'." 

The car was unveiled during a reception March 8. Though McClure initially planned to auction the car and donate the proceeds to the art department, he said the car turned out so well, he will make a different donation and drive the car. 

"I'd just like to thank Dick McClure for this opportunity," said Thomasson. "It was a really great experience, and I had lot of fun. And I hope he enjoys the car."  

Join University of the Pacific on: Facebook Twitter Instagram LinkedIn Youtube