About 500 visitors enjoyed last month’s “Sculpture in Motion” at the Ann Norton Sculpture Gardens, which this year added art work to the mix of classic cars at the botanical and sculpture garden on Flagler Drive.
Bringing the spirit of classic cars to life — vibrant colors, sleek lines, flamboyant curves — was the theme for artist Eric Zetterquist’s exhibit, which debuted during the event and continues to Dec. 26.
“The beauty of automobiles touches me. I want others to feel that same joy,” said the Youngstown, Ohio, native whose shiny aluminum prints depict the glory days of racing in Monte Carlo in the 1920s and the sporty cars of the 1960s.
“The cars were on the main lawn. The artwork was displayed deeper in the garden in the sea of green palms. It was very dramatic,” said Margaret Horton, managing director of the Ann Norton Sculpture Gardens, a West Palm Beach landmark on the Intracoastal Waterway that was placed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places in 1990.
The Norton has rare palm trees, bird habitats and sculptures of granite, brick, marble and bronze.
Tucked in the lushly landscaped El Cid neighborhood and just south of the under-construction La Clara Palm Beach luxury condo, the garden is a quiet oasis in the booming downtown, said Horton.
“Ann Weaver Norton knew that progress was coming to this area. She created this peaceful jungle to be a natural haven,” said Horton.
Besides viewing the art and cars, Sculpture in Motion guests and the community watched Rolls Royces, Maseratis, Renaults during the Grand Tour Parade.
Such classic cars have an essence, a voice, a soul, said Zetterquist, who drives a white, four-door BMW sedan with black detail.
Their fine lines and spectacular colors — Lamborghini caterpillar-gut green, bright Ferrari red, BMW estoril blue — bring back the spirit of the times when they were made, said Zetterquist, 59.
“Think back to the 1960s. Flashy cars, beautiful boats, spectacular rockets. And those incredible race cars from the 1920s. Exciting stuff from exciting times,” said Zetterquist.
After photographing the autos, Zetterquist seeks out “what my eyes see as the essence of the car.” He converts the photo to a print, which he mounts through a dye process directly on 1/16-inch thick aluminum.
Each print, which sells for $6,800, is about 2 feet wide and up to 6 feet long.
The final touch is a protective finish that allows the artwork to be rinsed off with a hose.
Why add such plebien feature to such patrician-priced artwork?
Classic car collectors store their four-wheeled trophies in garages — Zetterquist calls them “garage mahals.” They decorate the walls with mundane logos like the puffy Michelin Man and red and black Pennzoil signs.
“My end game is to get people to decorate their garage mahals with my prints. Like photos of their children in their living room. You can take my art work off the garage wall and hose it off to clean it,” said Zetterquist.
Before doing auto art, Zetterquist worked in ceramics. His first exhibition was in 2014 at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. He has had ceramic exhibits in Thailand, Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong and China.
But cars have always been his artistic love since he was a child in the 1960s. Zetterquist’s dad Ron, a marketing professor and salesman, was a car fanatic.
“Exquisite Jaguars, fabulous Cadillacs. I lost my heart to cars when I pressed the start button when I was 4 years old,” Zetterquist said.