There is something magical to me about junk. Well more specifically, there is something magical about junkers.
It could be the historian in me. It could be the nostalgic loving romantic in me. It could simply be a reminder of my grandfather’s junkyard were I spent lazy Wisconsin summer days climbing in and out and over bits of steel and rubber and scrap.
If you take time and look through my paintings it becomes obvious I like to remember the forgotten, the fading and the hidden in my paintings. As such, one of the best things about doing juried art shows around the country is I get to travel near these places.
For example, my second art show of this season was in Deep Ellum. A small enclave of Dallas.
On my leisurely trip my partner and I took a route that wandered across Illinois, Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas. Which is where we found rusting monuments to Detroit’s glory days or as I prefer to think of them – beautiful old cars.
In truth, the ghosts in the machines called out to us and we were forced to stop to see if we could hear their stories. We didn’t have much choice.
I am pretty reserved about just dropping in someplace that really didn’t have a welcome sign.
As we climbed from the truck, a dog approached us and my partner gave it a pat on the head and we proceeded to the door of cinderblock garage.
After some knocking and haggling, we were invited in.
Inside, we found two men working on a motorcycle. They introduced themselves as Bill and Roger, two brothers!
I held back in the shadows, letting my partner make small talk and ask for permission to intrude on their land and their property. I’m actually shy so talking to strangers makes me uncomfortable.
I was so excited they gave us permission I practically fell out of the door.
I’m so glad my partner stopped. Otherwise we would have missed the treasures. But here, silently rusting were lost and hidden treasures – classic cars, buses and trucks. Some more lost and hidden than others. It reminded me of my childhood walking through my uncle and grandfather’s junkyard. Despite the cold spring drizzle this was a happy place. It was a place where I walked next to fading ghosts of American history. Were I walked with my Grandfather’s memory one more time.
A hundred camera pictures and a thousand goosebumps later I stopped in to thank the brothers. My partner laughed as I dashed off ahead of him, grabbed my portfolio and made a beeline for the garage. By the time he caught up to me I stood between both brothers, the three of us laughing about the cars, the people and history. I was as chatty as a five-year old high on cotton candy and Coca Cola.
I really am shy although in that moment you couldn’t tell.
I had a great conversation about the history of the garage, their family’s history as drag racers and stock car drivers. I loving flipped through their family album looking at pictures of young men and their dragsters and trophies. It was a treasure book filled with stories about the family garage and their passion for cars! I was fortunate they were comfortable enough to share with us their loves. As we gathered up to leave they gave me a few copies of old family photos and posed beneath the sign painted over the door to their father’s shop.
It was a trip in real America with genuine people. It was a trip to a forgotten past I will carry forward in my art.
Chrissy Mount-Kapp is a professional self-taught painter specializing in creating oil and canvas paintings around Americana and vintage themes. Using the traditional methods of the Masters, Mount-Kapp creates original oil paintings, contracts for private commissions, paints custom murals and sells limited-edition fine art prints.
She currently lives in the St. Croix River Valley area with her two wonderful boys, two needy cats and her mother’s ghost.