Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Traveling art September 23, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
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Art car, entire view of #89


I’VE SEEN THIS CAR tooling around Faribault and parked at the local library. It’s memorable. One-of-a-kind. Definitely photo-worthy. But I never had my Canon DSLR with me when I spotted it. On a recent Saturday I did.


Art car, front of


I practically flew from the van with my camera upon sighting the colorful car parked along Central Avenue in front of the Paradise Center for the Arts. And then, bonus, the owner strode across the street toward his vehicle as I was snapping frames.


Art car, Michael in photo


He is Michael. No last name given. I didn’t ask. We chatted briefly, enough for me to learn that this former travel industry professional “works to travel.” His words, not mine. He’s been to about 100 countries.


Art car, close-up side


A close examination of the national flags and words pasted onto Michael’s Saturn reveals those destinations: Bangkok, Vienna, Zurich, Barcelona, Hawaii, Paris, Delhi…

“Try to see it all,” the message adhered to the trunk advises.


Art car, horse on roof


Art car, elephant on roof


Art car, helicopter


And Michael has, via some interesting, and ordinary, modes of transportation—car, plane, train, helicopter, horse and elephant—documented by toys attached to the car’s roof. He rode the elephant in Laos or Cambodia. I can’t remember which.


Art car, front side close-up #90


Michael, though friendly, seemed reticent to engage in a more in-depth conversation. Maybe he was, like me, on a tight schedule. Or simply reserved, choosing to maintain a level of mystery about himself and his travels. That’s OK.


Art car, Frank Zappa quote


I asked if there was anything specific on his car that I should photograph. He directed me to a Frank Zappa quote on the windshield: “Progress is not possible without deviation from the norm.”


Art car, rear back close-up


Perhaps that reveals more about Michael than anything he could have spoken.


Art car, hood close-up


As does this question, posted on the Saturn’s hood: “Where to next Michael?”

FYI: To read another post about an art car I’ve photographed in Faribault, click here. Then click here to view one I photographed in Northfield. And to view a photo of another art car, photographed by one of my favorite Minnesota documentary photographers, Dan Traun of Red Wing, click here and check out the Sept. 14 entry.

© Copyright 2015 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


18 Responses to “Traveling art”

  1. Marneymae Says:

    Omigoodness…SO awesome.

  2. Dan Traun Says:

    That is quite a canvas that tells an excellent story.

  3. S U P E R B!!!!
    I love this!
    ooo, the life of Michael!! xx I want!

  4. How COOL is that – love the stickers, the quotes, the toys, all of it, especially the “Where to Next Michael?”! “Try To See It All” sums it up pretty well too! Here I thought my fridge spoke volumes with all my travels (pretty much the 1st thing I set up when moving into a new place) – this car is on a whole other level though. I would love to hear more about his travels, adventures and life stories – the places, the people, the culture, the history, etc. – AMAZING!

    Thanks so much for sharing – Happy Day – Enjoy 🙂

  5. Littlesundog Says:

    That has got to be the most stickers on a car that I’ve ever seen!

  6. Missy's Crafty Mess Says:

    Wow!!! I’d love to look through his collection of pictures. Very interesting. Thanks for sharing.

  7. Jackie Says:

    An interesting way to show your travels… I like that car

  8. Sure looks more impressive to me than Obama/Biden or Hope and Change 2008 bumper stickers still stuck on people’s cars that’s for sure.

  9. Gunny Says:

    Been following your blog. I am also doing family research. Seems I have a bunch of cousins there in or around Faribault City, as well as Goodhue County not to mention other areas of Minnesota. As a traveler myself, I can appreciate the stickers. Tells me something about the car owner. FYI. I have several stickers on my vehicle. If the sticker gets faded or degraded by weather, I take it off and replace it. My stickers are there to tell the observer something. Be careful what stickers you put on your vehicle!

    • Welcome to the comments section of Minnesota Prairie Roots, Gunny. Happy to have you here and as a follower. Are you planning a trip to Minnesota to research your family. I didn’t grow up in Faribault, but a lot of people did and their roots run deep.

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