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Karmadillo is ready to roll: Latest art car effort by Houston art car artist Rebecca Bass hits the streets

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Pictured working on Karmadillo are (L-R) Miles Eckhoff, a home-schooled student, Nolan Gabrielson, soon to be a Seventh-Grade student at Hoehne Schools, Lori Powers, an art teacher at Sonora, Texas H. S., Bobbi Terry, who’s also going into Seventh-Grade at Hoehne Schools, Rebecca Bass, Lindsey Clark, who will be a junior at Grace Christian School next year, Danielle Pacheco, a student at John Mall H. S. in Walsenburg, Jeanette Schmitz, an elementary school teacher from Sonora, Texas, schools and Amanda Palmer of the Art Car Board and self-styled ‘splainer’ who conducts tours of the museum.

The annual Artocade parade through the heart of historic downtown Trinidad is a combination of party, festival and parade, attracting visitors and locals in droves to stare in wonder at the kooky conveyances called Art Cars that this year will be rolling through the streets beginning at Noon on Saturday, September 14.

The 2018 Artocade Parade attracted more than 100 entries, and followed only Houston as the second largest art car event in the nation with other long established events in major cities like Seattle, San Francisco, Tulsa, Minneapolis and Chattanooga on the list.

Houston, Texas art car designer and builder Rebecca Bass was in Trinidad last Friday, July 12 with a team of students and teachers to complete ‘Karmadillo,’ her latest effort at creative car kookiness, at the Art Cartopia Museum located at 2702 Freedom Road in Trinidad.

A fanciful representation of that legendary Southwestern road kill victim, the armadillo, Bass and her team had pieces and parts of Karmadillo scattered all about their work site as the creative craziness carried on at a fevered pace throughout the day.

Bass talked about her most recent art car effort in a short interview at the museum. Designer and builder of 31 art cars and counting, Bass has been described as “the most prolific art car artists in the world.”

“This afternoon we’re going to get all the pieces on the top and then start re-attaching and doing all the decorations and stuff,” she said. “I’ve been doing this for 31 years. I do them with students and kids, and I like the teamwork and the camaraderie. The finished product looks beautiful, and then you get to meet so many wonderful people. My students are able to connect with adults and feel important. These students are from this community and they range in age from eight years old to about 17. Some of them are missing but we’ll let you meet as many as we can.”

Jeanette Schmitz, an elementary school teacher from Sonora, Texas, schools, said Rodney Wood, also/known/as Art Carfun, leader of the ArtoCade movement, had been trying to get her involved in building art cars since all the fun began a few years ago.

“Rodney’s been wanting me to come and be a part of the fun since he first began,” Schmitz said. “I had an opportunity to work with Rebecca Bass and we drove up here. It’s been a lot of fun, and an honor and a blessing and just an opportunity to come up here and see Rodney and the Trinidad people and just work our tails off. We got here last Saturday and we’ll be leaving next Sunday. Most of Karmadillo will be ready by then.

“We won’t finish completely but it will be road ready.”

Houston, Texas, native Richard Tomcala said the Trinidad’s Art Cartopia Museum had the most extensive collected of art-themed conveyances to be found anywhere in the United States. “Nationally, this is THE spot for Rebecca Bass artwork and art cars,” Tomcala said. “I’m a sometime photographer for the Orange Show and the Art Car parade in Houston.”

Wood said he hoped to debut Karmadillo at an out-of-town parade before Trinidad’s ArtoCade Parade.

“Rebecca’s made more that 30 art cars,” Wood said. “Through some funding that was given to the Trinidad Community Foundation (TCF), there were some funds that we had available to disburse. We were asked if we had any new programs going on, especially involving kids that we could apply to for some money. They gave us some financial assistance and I told the TCF people that we’d love to have Rebecca Bass come to Trinidad and work with some adults and kids on building an art car. It is not an overstatement to say that Rebecca Bass is a world famous teacher.

“She’s a renowned art car artist and a productive, if not the most productive, art car artist in the world. She’s a big part of why ArtoCade happened. The second I got Rebecca Bass in the loop, we moved up the food chain and a lot of other artists said, ‘Well if Rebecca Bass is involved, it must be legit, and we’re in too.’ Rebecca was the queen of our first Art Car Parade in 2013, and we have four of her art cars, the Lizard King, Earth, Wind and Fire, Electric Lady Land and Bohemian Rhapsody. She’s not sure anyone else has two of her art cars, and we will have four of them, with a fifth one to be added soon. So it’s amazing that she’s here. The two teachers from Sonora, Texas knew about Rebecca’s work and that’s why they wanted to come here, and they’re gaining experience in making art cars here in Trinidad. It’s an honor that Rebecca I here. She’s such an amazing, giving person. Nobody gets rich off of this nonsense, but it’s very enriching. We get all these people, and some of these kids are going to get to be in the parade and march next to these amazing creations and be proud of what they have helped to accomplish.”

For more ArtoCade, art car and Cartopia Museum information go to the website: or call 719-846-3473.

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