Creating the #CatCar: Pgh’s Latest Art Car Hits the Road #AMPLIFY

Pittsburgh art Car
Kai and Sam pose with the car canvas.

Converting my 2000 Honda CRV into an art car seemed like a solid idea.

It only has 130,000 miles and is in pretty good shape mechanically speaking. It was technically our second car that I used for my day-to-day errands and the occasional big or ‘messy’ transport. Since I work from home, my day-to-day errands amount to about 1000 miles a year, if that. Nowhere near time to give up on this car. So why not give it a new life as an art car courtesy of my colleagues at Most Wanted Fine Art and the Pittsburgh Art Car?

What the heck is an art car? And does it have anything to do with Andy Warhol?

In creating an art car, the “exteriors and interiors of factory-made automobiles are transformed into expressions of individual ideas, values, beliefs and dreams. The cars range from imaginatively painted vehicles to extravagant fantasies whose original bodies are concealed beneath newly sculptured shells” (from Petersen Automotive Museum’s Spring 2003 Los Angeles, California exhibit Wild Wheels: Art for the Road Gallery Guide)

So the AMPLIFY #catcar is a reflection of the project and the project is about amplifying the voices of LGBTQ people. In this case, we are amplifying the artistic voice of Sam and allies Jason & Kai are visually interpreting my voice and the voices of the project.

And, yes, Andy Warhol did some work with car images and painted what is considered the most valuable art car in the world.

Most Wanted currently has three art vehicles – the art car, the art van and the art truck. The car is for display and some transportation needs. The van and truck are work vehicles that haul the crew and supplies around for the contracting team. Team member Jeff also has an art van created from his personal Chevy Astro.

Jason also creates an art car which he enters into the Stoneboro Fair Demolition Derby each year. He has all sorts of interesting ways to destroy an art car – including giant robots firing paint balls – and then converts the destroyed car into art. It is a fascinating fusion of derby car culture with art car culture with storytelling. Read more about the Pittsburgh Art Car here.

Different members of the visual art team contribute to different vehicles. My team included MWFA co-owner Jason Sauer and team artists Sam Thorp and Kai Devenitch. Sam is a queer artist who has been a contributor to the AMPLIFY project and is the editor of the AMPLIFY zine. Kai is an ally who designed the AMPLIFY logo and has been part of the support team for almost everything we’ve done. I was excited to see what their collective vision would be.

Pittsburgh Art Car
Sam letters the logo on the side of the car

I wanted to incorporate the AMPLIFY logo with a hashtag symbol to encourage passers by to Google the term and find our project. The logo is grounded in the symbolism of the pink triangle to reflect our queer sensibility. It is both overtly and subtly a queer logo which is perfect as we are sometimes traveling into unfriendly territory.

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After some conversation, Kai and Jason thought incorporating a cat motif would be smart. Frequent readers of this blog and social media friends know that I am definitely a cat person. My corporate name (and ‘owner’ of the blog & AMPLIFY project) is SueCat Social Media. And it would attract attention to the vehicle, hopefully prompting people to Google the term #AMPLIFY. Kai’s painting focuses on wildlife so that was also a good fit.

We had some back and forth conversations over sketches and imagery, but ultimately I knew this is a work of art – not a paint job in my living room so I had to trust the instincts of the artists.

Pittsburgh Art Car
Partially completed

The process was quick – it took three days. They gave the vehicle a thorough cleaning and got to work. I drove around in my $9.99 Enterprise rental car and waited for the update photos. And then voila!

Pittsburgh Art Car
The #CatCar with Ledcat


Things I love about this car.

  1. The cat face on the front incorporates the headlights. It is both cute and a bit surreal at the same time.
  2. The tiger striping cat theme on the rest of the car can be modified, expanded or touched up with ease. This is good because hail attacked Pittsburgh the night the car was finished.
  3. The pink triangles on the hubcaps are a big improvement over the rusted out look I’ve been going with for the past umpteen years. And of course, the triangle looks good no matter which way the wheel is rotated.
  4. The block lettering of the hashtag looks subtly corporate because of the stenciling type font which makes it easier to read while in motion. The point, after all, is for people to see that hashtag.
  5. People who have no clue what the pink triangle means are going to see the cat. And that’s good. It opens the door for a conversation, but also gives me some cover if necessary. There are regions of Western PA where even this very out lesbian blogger feels unsafe. I can only imagine what its like to live there.
  6. I own some art. Me. Art that I exhibit every day just by parking the car on the street. I’m an art owner. A consumer of art. A supporter of the arts. Art that was commissioned with money.
  7. I have the perfect nontraditional response to the worrisome grant question – how will you promote your project?

I’m part of a fleet now. I’ll be traveling with Pittsburgh Art Car to several art car shows and promoting their events on my own travels for AMPLIFY. If you see me start to drive about in a crazy cat lady costume, you might want to consider an intervention.

You can have the #AMPLIFY #CatCar at your event. Just email us

Pittsburgh Art Car
Sideview, passenger side
Pittsburgh Art Car
Rear view. Yes I’ve had that window decal on since 2013. I take the long view.


Pittsburgh Art Car
The other side view. See the cat tail?
Pittsburgh Art Car
Trust me, this is not only cool and subversive, but a huge improvement.


To learn more about AMPLIFY, visit our page. For more information on the Pittsburgh Art Car project, visit their website.


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