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The Enthusiasts: The artcar lady
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This is the first of several hundred ashtrays which Jan Elftman will glue on her new artcar. Elftman first heard about artcars during a trip to Texas. She heard that there have been artcars in Minnesota for years. Now she is considered the central figure of the Minnesota artcar scene. (MPR photo/Euan Kerr)
We inaugurate a new occasional series -- the Enthusiasts, in which we'll meet people who take their interests and hobbies to a higher level. First off is Jan Elftman, known to many as The Cork Truck Lady. Jan is considered the doyen of the Twin Cities art car scene. She covered the exterior of her Mazda truck with thousands of old wine corks.

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Image Jan Elftman

Minneapolis, Minn. — Dozens of Minnesotans have used everything from paint to bones and bowling balls to turn their wheels into rolling works of art.

Minnesota Public Radio's Euan Kerr caught up with Elftman as she prepared to make her next artcar. She is celebrating 10 years of being smoke free by covering a Honda Civic with ashtrays.

Jan Elftman's ashtray car will make its debut at the annual Greenway Parade of Arts and the Parade of Bikes in Minneapolis on July 4. She did a lot of the preliminary work at an artcar workshop at Intermedia Arts in Minneapolis.

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Image B.J. Zander and her Mercedes Bonz

Artcar stories

Several other artists gathered at Intermedia arts for the workshop. Here are a few of their stories:

B.J. Zander owns the Mercedes Bonz. It's actually a Volvo, but she says she has always really wanted a Mercedes, and she can call her car whatever she wants.

She says she doesn't know how many bones she has glued to the body of the car, but guesses it's about 1,000. She got them from friends, butchers, and her dog (those would be the chewed ones.)

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Image Amy Greilig

Amy Greilig says she wanted to do an artcar for a long time before she brought her car in for a new paintjob in preparation for the artcar parade. She decided the car would look much better sporting a Mississippi River scene.

Her one concern about the process is that she is not sure if the car is going to last very long. She's already planning to get another car so she can paint that one, too.

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Image Cat Corrigan

Cat Corrigan teaches art in the St. Paul Schools, and so she drives around surrounded by her students' paintings.

She says she has seen some amazing artcars over the years, particularly when she lived down in Florida. "A good art car -- there's a point to it, a theme, everything is connected and it's coherent, it works together. So there's junk artcars and good artcars."

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Image Jill Waterhouse

Jill Waterhouse is Jan Elftman's partner in crime in creating the ashtray car. She is also another organizer of the Artcar Parade and the Cabaret on Wheels, which takes place on the evening of July 3. She had an artcar which she described as being like State Fair spin art.

Now Waterhouse is gathering material for a coffee car, which will feature coffeepots, and coffee cups, and also she hopes the possibility of serving coffee from the back seat.

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