I KILLED SHIRLEY
This is my sculptural confession. Shirley was my '02 Chrysler Sebring Convertible. I killed her through neglect, not checking her oil regularly enough, until it was too late. Between the exhaust leak in the muffler and the radio up loud, I never heard her clattering cries for help until it was too late. I had oil right there on the seat. I never saw the light come on. If only.....
When the mechanic told me that the engine was blown and the only remedy would be to get a junker engine and install it, I knew I was in for more bad news. I'd paid $3900 for her, put about $2000 in front end, brakes and tires and still there was work to be done. The mechanic told me he could put a new motor in for $3300. It just didn't make sense. My only option was to scrap her for about $300. But then i had another idea. Her guts may have been rotten, but she still looked good there on the front lawn. My epic piece DESTINY HATES A LAGGARD- a bulldozer on house cribbing had stalled. Why not turn Shirley into art?
"Car as art" never much interested me in my own work. John Chamberlain, Guy Overfelt, Ant Farm, and a few others seemed to have staked out that territory pretty well. But what does interest me is relationship and in this case the abuse i had visited upon my poor girl. Maybe there was a way to memorialize Shirley without being too heavy handed. I got out the pen and paper and went to work.
My first idea was to jack up the car and rest the tires in little dished out concrete pads, lowering the top and filling her with concrete. I ran this by a friend and he rightfully pointed out that the suspension would bottom out and the tires would blow. Phase II had 2- 4"x8' I-beams slid under the frame. Then I could jack the entire car up, support the beams on cribbing and fill the interior with concrete. It was a sad process. It went against all I hold sacred- a destruction of a car with a decent interior, a neutralizing of something I paid good money for, something that with enough money to cover the surgery could come back to life. Instead, it was now entombed. It went against capitalism, Detroit and probably even art. It's anti-fucking-American ferchristsake!
But as the concrete truck pulled away and I was left to trowel the gritty surface area, where I will never sit again, never feel the wind in my beard, a calm came over me. I can't count the number of cars and trucks I've had over the years. They've all served me well. If I'm lucky I have a picture of one or two. But Shirley, sweet Shirley? There she sits, a thing of perverse beauty. I feel bad for killing her. But now, I don't feel so bad anymore. I must say it is a fitting memorial.