10 Country: Gregory's Art Car - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

10 Country: Gregory's Art Car

January 19, 2006

Tifton-- Many people spend lots of money to get their cars noticed by adding expensive tires and rims along with lights that make the car seem to hover.

Most people have never seen a car like the one that recently passed through 10 Country. It's a rolling gift designed by a friend and its owner never intends to sell it.

It was the talk of employees of a local motel. A car decorated with thousands of beads that appeared in the parking lot.

At mid-morning, a bearded man with a faded pink cowboy hat, wearing a yellow T-shirt and wearing jeans put his luggage in the back of the unusual car. "This is called an art car," says Gregory Leeman, an entertainer on his way from Atlanta to Miami.

He owns the Jeep that has thousands of beads glued to it. "Strings of beads, of plastic Mardi Gras beads. That's easier than putting in individual beads," says Gregory, about the efficiency of gluing a string of beads instead of individual beads.

The car was covered in buttons, sea shells, an eclectic collection of what some might think as worthless that attracts the curious. "There were certain design elements I insisted upon," says Gregory, who wanted silver pipes on the hood, and the king-Elvis front and center.

An artist friend, David Best, decided what to do with the rest of the car. "It took five years to collect all the crap," says Gregory.

No wasted space on the art car either; Behind the wheel, in the wheel well, more decorations. "We did that first. Nothing like being on your hands and knees in a gravel driveway. Memories I'd prefer to forget," says Gregory.

The rolling masterpiece was built one piece at a time, occasionally wrestling with hundreds of items that would get a new home.

"It took a team of five of us two weeks to do all the gluing. You learn patience," says Gregory.

Patience to glue plates to the side for no artistic reason; Frogs everywhere. "I have no idea about the story of the frogs here," says Gregory. The colorful rocks came from a rather ordinary place. "This is fish gravel, fish tank gravel. Spray some glue on it and slap it on," says Gregory.

Many of the decorative items came from a California garbage dump. Gregory Leeman knows he has something special and he intends to keep it. "This was done as a labor of love, done as an expression of friendship. I could no more sell it. Couldn't do that," says Gregory.

If a person wanted to create his own art car, Gregory advises buying a cheap car in good mechanical condition that runs well. Don't worry about the paint since the art will cover it all anyway.

Some people may disagree about the definition of art and whether the art car is art or a rolling pile of junk, but for those who believe art is greater than the sum of its parts, then the art car rates as an art museum that could suddenly appear at an intersection near you.

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