Garden Oaks Montessori Magnet art car
13 April 2023: Garden Oaks Montessori Magnet art car dedicated to future is limitless Credit: Jimmie Aggison/Houston Defender

This week, I went downtown to get a sneak peek at the Houston Art Car Parade. This year is the 36th annual parade, a happening that has become the city’s largest public art event. From recognizable cars to cars that will leave you scratching your head, attendees are guaranteed to see it all.

Eric Smith, a first-time participant, took a 51 Chevy 6400 that he’s had for three years and dedicated it to kinetic art.

“I’ve been in some other parades and it’s just a lot of fun to dress the vehicles up,” Smith said. “My brother participated previously with a couple of contraptions, but we’ve never done a car, so we thought it would be cool to do a car. It’s all about having a good time.”

Carolyn Stapleton traveled from Albuquerque, New Mexico to display her car, “Flora,” which she dedicated to women healers of compassion.

“This is my third art car,” Stapleton shared. “My first art car was called ‘Litterbug’ and it was covered with litter. My second car was covered with cigarette butts, and my car today is covered with flowers.”

Students from Garden Oaks Montessori Magnet were also able to take part in the festivities as they placed 800 stars on their car to represent the 800 students at their school. Each star had a goal-written message on it to highlight the student’s dream.

Yoly Villarreal, the PTO President, helped raise money to buy a dedicated art car because they felt it was an important piece of their arts and enrichment program at the school.

“The concept behind the car this year is the future is limitless,” Villarreal said. “We had each student write down different things that they wanted to be. One student said they wanted to be a graphic designer, while another said they wanted to play in the NBA. We wanted to create different mediums so the students could realize their future is limitless.”

This event was amazing. If you missed it, you missed something special.

“There’s so much art car family that lives in Houston that it’s really just a relief to arrive and see all the people that are my same strange kindred family. I love it here. It’s very warm and welcoming and it’s great to see so many like-minded people and artists here,” Stapelton said.

I’m originally from Kansas. I graduated from the University of Kansas with a degree in communication studies. Shortly after moving to Houston in 2007, I began doing photography. I covered cy fair sports...