Ever since man noticed the phenomenon of the "corner-less rolling rock" he has been coming up with more ways to use the labor saving invention we now know of as the wheel. In celebration of America's fascination with all things wheeled, Lawrence holds this event to honor mankind's large creative cerebral cortex, bipedal locomotion and opposable thumbs.
Our goal is to create an all-inclusive event that is symbolic of humanity's need for self-expression in the medium of all things wheeled. Ever year we are adding to the original event, Post-Parade Block Party since (2007), Final Friday Pre-Parade P-Arty since (2010)
The Pre-Parade Final Friday P-Arty is an event in which families and individuals can bring their car, bicycle or whatever, then paint them while eating popcorn and listening to the music of various local bands. In this event, people can also view other custom show vehicles from all over the United States and meet their builders. The purpose of the entire event is to celebrate creativity and honor the human spirit with a sense of humor, and to just have some good, clean fun on wheels.
From Charles Jones, Parade Founder:
Art Tougeau was founded in 1997. About that time, the book and documentary "Wild Wheels" by Harrod Blank, caused quite a stir. My wife Carol was on the Lawrence Arts Commission, which decided sponsored a rail-based National Endowment of Arts exhibit called the Artrain. Knowing that I was interested in making an art car and wanting to publicize the Artrain, Carol suggested I organize an art car parade. So it began. The name "Art Tougeau" - a punning rhyme with Art Nouveau - was also my wife's idea (she does have a graduate degree in Art History!). We started with handful of entries...and have grown steadily ever since.
One of the winners that first year was Cottonwood, Inc., an organization of people with profound disabilities. I'll never forget the look on the Cottonwood faces as they accepted their trophy before a wildly cheering crowd. Who knows, maybe those people had never been cheered before. At that moment, Art Tougeau became something more than merely a wheeled-art event for me. It became a celebration of community; of eccentricity and acceptance; and of shared joy that glides along in tricked-out cars, fanciful bikes and decorated wheelchairs.
Art Tougeau has always been a truly collaborative effort. The first year, we bought trophies from a local shop. The second year, an art class at Lawrence High volunteered to make trophies. Those trophies continue to show up each year, and have become an art attraction in their own right: sculptural, beautiful, funny and unfailingly inventive. Awards are made on a mysterious basis of merit and need. To this discerning but tender-hearted tradition we owe thanks Channel 9 news reporter Bev Chapman. Bev volunteered to judge entries in that first parade and has continued ever since. We also hand out bright ribbons in great quantities, so every participant goes home with a colorful reminder of the parade.
There are always a ton of kids in the parade: by themselves, in groups, with their parents, on bikes, trikes, riding mowers, and contraptions of unknown origin. Kids have always entered for free. After all, what exemplifies the Art Tougeau spirit more than a kid with clothes-pinned cards fluttering in the spokes? With each passing year, Art Tougeau has gained renown in the region and across the country, attracting attracted participants from Houston, Little Rock, Omaha, Wichita and Boston.
Entries range from beautiful to funny to technologically complex to just plain weird... and every one of them is a delight. The morning of the parade is an amazing experience. You never know what to expect, then all these fantastic wheeled pieces start rolling into sight. You can't help but laugh. And, like everyone else, you run from entry to entry shaking your head in amazement. There have been far too many wonderful entries and people to list. However, I do have to mention Eric Farnsworth and the Farnsworth Bicycle Laboratory. Eric's welded, physics-defying rolling armada has delighted at every parade, as has KT Walsh's organic artworks.
Art Tougeau owes so much to so many people. Jenny Hart was a lifesaver in those early years. Today, folks like Pat and Linda Slimmer, Ben Ahlvers, Richie Backus, Amy and Randy Carlson, Margaret Morris and Steve Richardson and bring hip enthusiasm and considerable organization skills to the show. The Lawrence Arts Center has demonstrated great support for this event. The Final Friday / Lawrence Arts Center / Art Tougeau Street Party is a blast. The parade is better than ever.
Long live Art Tougeau!
The Art Car Cruise is a recently added feature to the Parade Schedule. In this event national and locally recognized Art Cars Artist will travel from school to school showing off their creations. Then explaining to kids and a few head scratching teachers why on earth would you take a perfectly good boat and put it on a car chassis. See, education can be fun!
|8:00 - 9:00am||KT Walsh (folk art house) 732 Road Island|
|9:10 - 9:40am||Woodland School 508 Elm|
|10:00 - 10:30am||Deerfield School 101 Lawrence Ave|
|10:45 - 11:15am||Sunset Hill School 901 Schwarz Rd|
|11:30 - 12:30pm||Cordley School 1837 Vermont|
|1:00 - 2:00pm||Lawrence Arts Center 940 New Hampshire|
Call Pat Slimmer @ (785) 832-8689 or (785) 393-1068 and/or Contact us for more details.
Side note... the faces on these kids when they come running out of the schools to see the Art Cars is priceless.
Space on the cruise is limited so please call or email.
Thanks, Pat Slimmer
Art Tougeau can help with gas & such for folks traveling 300 miles or more. Our budget has its limits, but we try as best we can. Early entries have priority & we'll award until the money is used up. If you need info about places to stay, Contact Us.