Art Car Creators on Parade: Jill Johnson W/Video

Photo by Chris Curry
Jill Johnson and her rolling memorial
The 2013 Art Car Parade starts this Saturday, May 11 at 1 p.m. In this week's cover story "Enjoying the Ride" with story and photos by Chris Curry, we decided to highlight some of this year's entrants. Throughout this week, we'll run posts with video to give you a closer look at these dedicated artists.

Jill Johnson, a Houston Heights native, started building her art car in 2008. The 1982 Chevy Blazer base has now been reclassified "L.I.O.N" which stands for "Like it or not."

She and collaborator Jeff Towns put the car together featuring 12 red hobby horses that flow from the bed. The truck started out as red and white but red and orange were more appealing to Johnson's tastes.

The one white stripe is in memory of Towns, who killed himself in 2009.

Johnson's day job is as a salon stylist, but she knows how engines work and car parts fit together. As for the hobby horses, most came from area flea markets. One came from Houston's own Flower Man, the bicycle-riding, tie-dye wearing man, who's famous for giving out flowers as well as collecting objects of yesteryear.

This year's parade route starts on Allen Parkway and Waugh, travels eastbound, curves around The Heritage Society on Bagby Street, then comes up the other side and makes its way to Shepherd Drive.

Other Art Car video highlights:

Randy Blair

Bob Wink

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L.I.O.N. was the final art car design by the late Jeffrey Thomas Towns (8.7.1967 - 7.14.2009) where it was originally painted with red and white stripes - prior to Towns' passing, a proposed entourage with the Montrose Patriot art rig and L.I.O.N. was in the works.

L.I.O.N. was the third K5 Blazer canvas which was once owned by Mitch Cohen where an engine fire placed the vehicle out of commission and not knowing that it was destined as an art car in early 2009. The original L.I.O.N. canvas started out with a 99 Dodge Dakota until the truck went out of service and subsequent destroyed with sledgehammers during the 2009 Art Car Ball @ The Silo off Clinton Avenue as a fundraiser for the late Tom Kennedy (1961 - 2009).

Upon the death of Jeff Towns, a memorial award presented by the Houston Art Car Klub has existed since 2010 and there is a twist - there is now a tribute art car for the late Jeff Towns which has been operational since 4.5.13 painted with flames using the shade of green from his previous art car Accessorod - the paint was sourced from Scott-Day Auto Supply while the artist who conceived this calls the green a homage to the former BWIA International airline which ceased operations in 2006 now part of Caribbean Airlines. As of June 2013, the Jeff Towns/Rev. T. Mitchell Jones tribute art car has been used in photoshoots outside the Bikinis Sports Bar and Grille off 249/Greens Rd and 320 E. Copeland in Arlington, TX and most recently, a model boot camp photoshoot during a Bikini Open Promotions contest.

Originally, the Jeff Towns tribute art car was supposed to have became the tribute to the late Rev. T. Mitchell Jones (1956 - 2008) prior to Towns' passing where the project was shelved into development hell until a Houston-area photographer decided to fuse both themes back in 2011 - project delays forced the work session to commence 2.22.13 using influences from past flame paint jobs as depicted during the Lone Star Rally in Galveston, TX and several show trucks seen in Sport Truck or Minitruckin Magazine - 100% of the flames are of local content.

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