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A new Ventura County art exhibition features paintings of some of the world’s most iconic vehicles

Artist Thomas Hardcastle with one of his paintings from the Car Culture exhibition
Caroline Feraday
Artist Thomas Hardcastle with one of his paintings from the Car Culture exhibition

Whether it’s fixing them, cleaning them or filling them up – cars are a huge part of our culture.

Featuring classic Mercedes, to Rolls Royce and Chevrolets – the series of automobile paintings in the new Car Culture exhibition are anything but ordinary.

The artist, Ojai local Thomas Hardcastle, says our choice of car says a lot about us as owners, and that is "Car Culture".

"The car represents their sensibilities, their wallet, their attitude, destination, aspirations," he told KCLU. "I picked cars that represent the spectrum of society, not just the luxury end."

Popping out from bright backgrounds, the cars he’s painted – like a '57 Chevy almost driving at you, from a bright green background, take on a life and personality of their own.

"I thought I should do some American cars. So I intended to do the 57 Chevy cos it's so popular.

"I thought I would do in a classic Americana presentation and then I tilted it at the last minute and it looked so much more dynamic.

"So I started thinking about how much modification and customization they do to the '57 Chevy, and from that I thought of Frankenstein's Monster and tried to capture the moment of transformation."

The plate on the Chevy? It reads - Frankie.

Thomas Hardcastle

There’s one luxury model parked in front of London landmarks, which particularly stands out.

"This is the Silver Cloud 3, and at the time they made this car, brand new it was 19 grand and the average price of a house was 21 grand," said Hardcastle.

"I was thinking about what it would be like to arrive at the pantheons of wealth in the perfect coach.

"It's a statement of 'I'm rich. Notice me,'" he said of the vehicle, which sports the plate "DOSH", a British slang term for money.

Thomas Hardcastle

But will the exhibition only appeal to car enthusiasts? No, says Helen Solomon, marketing for Ojai Art Center - who says the appeal is universal.

"It's so hard to describe unless you see them because they're so bright and colorful and each car has a personality," she told KCLU.

"I'm not into cars at all but I love this collection because the cars speak to me. They're beautiful."

The exhibition opens Saturday and runs through April 30th at the Ojai Art Center.

Thomas Hardcastle

Caroline joined KCLU in October 2020. She won LA Press Club's Audio Journalist of the Year Award in 2022 and 2023.

Since joining the station she's won 7 Golden Mike Awards, 4 Los Angeles Press Club Awards and 2 National Arts & Entertainment Awards.

She started her broadcasting career in the UK, in both radio and television for BBC News, 95.8 Capital FM and Sky News and was awarded the Prince Philip Medal for her services to radio and journalism in 2007.

She has lived in California for ten years and is both an American and British citizen - and a very proud mom to her daughter, Elsie.