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Genealogy of a dream: Seldom-seen visions of an American sports car

In conjunction with the North American International Auto Show, Detroit’s Scarab Club is hosting a special exhibit, “American Dreaming, Corvette: 7 Generations and Beyond.”

The exhibit, co-curated by Robert Edwards and John Peters, features development sketches, models and technical drawings of various generations of the Chevrolet Corvette. Spanning two floors, the exhibit also shows off vintage advertising art that was squirreled away, scavenged from trash bins and shuttered studios—or, as some might have said, stolen.

Edwards notes the reason behind his yearlong chase of assembling the exhibit was to show that automotive design is a legitimate part of the greater arts community. He’s also working with the Detroit Institute of Art to establish a more permanent exhibit on the subject. 

The vintage advertising comes from Michigan-based photographer Jim Secreto’s personal collection. Secreto, inspired by his time at an advertising agency, started collecting pieces of artwork out of dumpsters to aid in the preservation of the era. While his collection is mostly steeped in pre-1980s work, a few examples of advertising for fourth-generation ’Vettes are on display.

Additionally, the curators challenged future designers currently enrolled in the nation’s top design schools, like the College for Creative Studies, the Art Center College of Design and Lawrence Technological University, to try to imagine what the next Corvette will look like. While all the finalist designs were exceptional, the judges — Jay Leno, Robert Cumberford and Bill Robinson—picked Thomas Deboves’ design as the winner.

When asked what it was like to interact with designers who came before him, Deboves says, “It was really inspiring to see the work, to hear their stories about what they thought a Corvette should look like. It was great to see how (past designers) created and shaped an iconic American car over time.”

The reception might be over, but the exhibit will run through Feb 18, 2017. You can find more information at

Lowriders in southwest Detroit

Detroit Epitaph by Anthony Gross

Anthony Gross’ ‘Detroit Epitaph.’ Photo by Josh Scott

‘Detroit Epitaph’ is a tribute to the Motor City hidden in an urban forest

They called out as he stood next to his custom Chevrolet Vega, members of the Beastie Boys cruising by in a late-model El Camino. The El Camino must look like a most improbable amalgamation when first glimpsed by a Briton, like a mythical faun, only half-pickup, half-car. “Hey, cool car,” they said as they passed, and in that moment, Anthony Gross knew he would someday own one.

Indeed, Gross, a London-based artist, filmmaker and architect, finally got his El Camino, which he drove across America while it tried variously to kill him—a trip chronicled in a sci-fi-tinged tale at The car (too structurally and mechanically compromised to save) found its final resting place on a concrete block, originally the loading bay of a 1940s sugar factory. The building itself is long gone, like much that once populated the area around Detroit’s Eastern Market.

“I had been wanting to do something with the block because it looked like a plinth,” says Gross, who purchased the old factory plot in one of Detroit’s many recent land auctions. 

“For me, being an outsider, I could just see Eastern Market was cool, like maybe New York in the High Line area in the ’70s. It just seemed like a really beautiful location. (The land) was not occupied, I thought I could manage it … it just felt like a good place to do an art piece, maybe a sculpture garden.”

The Damned Wheel Club, a crew out of Flint, Michigan, trucked its welding machines and hoists down to help Gross strip the car and erect it on the dock-cum-plinth, where it casts its shadow over the Dequindre Cut, an abandoned rail line that runs from the Detroit River up through Eastern Market.

“So many people have said, ‘Dude, that’s the most Detroit sculpture there is, and you’re not even from Detroit!’”  

By Autoweek Staff