Joy Johnston has been part of the Art Car scene since 1989. She's named each of her decorated vehicles; the names have included "Swirly," "Flivver," and "Speedy Serendipity."
Her current vehicle, an '88 Toyota sedan, is named after her 10-year-old black Lab/Rottweiler pet, Lucky. The name she has given it is "Lucky's Joyride."
Johnston, who now lives in Inner Southeast Portland, has visited Art Car shows all along the West Coast, and she says she enjoys the unique, freewheeling style of fellow artists. "We call those who drive undecorated vehicles 'Mundanes'," she says with a smile.
"About ten years ago I was on an Art Car trip to Slab City, California, which is known as 'the place where Art Cars go to die.' It's a dry, desert-y area, and there, under a scrubby desert tree, was this little black puppy. No one seemed to be taking care of her, so I adopted her, and she's been my pal ever since."
Lucky's Joyride is decorated with paint and glued-on 'found objects', and has a front bumper that's lush with fake flowers. "I've got some bells attached to the rear bumper," confides Johnston. "They jingle nicely when I drive over bumps.
"Eventually," she continues, "I want to cover the whole car, including [putting] a fake 'tree' on the roof made of mannequin parts. I locate unusual items to decorate my cars with at the Goodwill Bins, like the one here on S.E. Umatilla Street in Sellwood. This vehicle has a collection of buttons and beads along the back window and trunk, a collection of doll heads on the right rear quarter, and a toad in a pebbly scene on the hood."
While earlier living in California, Johnston worked as an industrial seamstress. "I've got a big collection of neckties, and I plan to reupholster the interior with them," she grins. She adds that she has always enjoyed working on crafts, crocheting, and other handiwork. "I've decorated several kinds of vehicles as Art Cars. Each one seems to have its own personality."
Whenever she visits the Sellwood Goodwill Bins, she always makes sure to buy a few new toys for Lucky. "If I don't give her something, she'll nose through all my bags," says Johnston.
But her best gift, of course, was being rescued from abandonment in the California desert.