When it comes to cars, I am not the brightest person in the room. I know people who can look at a car from miles away and know what model it is and the year it was made. When I look at a car all I see is the superficial qualities of it, is it pretty or nah? Is it old or new?And what I mean by old or new is if the car still looks good or if it is beat down and defeated not if it from the 60s or not. But I think I might have just found the right car to cure my car dummy problem and it comes in a mashup of a bright floral garden and a vintage Mercedes accurately called the ‘Rose Garden’. As a proud member of the Flower Movement, I always thought floral power came in form of outfits and gardens but here is a car majestically covered in flowers.
You don’t have to be a classic car fanatic or an avid flower lover to appreciate the originality of the ‘Rose Garden’. The vehicle is a Mercedes-Benz 220 Cabriolet A from 1952, restored and reimagined by artist Hiro Yamagata, who has worked his magic on dozens of these models since the early 1990s. The Japanese-born, US-based artist Yamagata has also produced a large number of very successful pop-art inspired prints, created the publicity posters for a series of Olympic Games, and was even commissioned to do a portrait of Ronald Reagan.
Some people say the scenes I paint are dreamy or psychedelic, I say, if you look closely at plants and animals on land and in the ocean the natural world is overflowing with psychedelic colours and creatures. I’m just painting from nature.
The ‘Rose Garden’ is part of the body of work known as the Earthly Paradise series and was originally bought by the late Vincent ‘Vinnie the Car Guy’ Mandzak, who had worked as a salesman for Mercedes and as a specialist for RM Sotheby’s prior to his death in 2015. Fitted with a 2.2-litre, six-cylinder engine, “Rose Garden” produces 80bhp, has a four-speed manual transmission and according to the odometer has done just over 40,000 miles since creation. Every detail on the car has been meticulously restored, including the bodywork, the upholstery and the interior woodwork. Even the radio is the same.
Art critic Sam Hunter commented on Yamagata as an artist who has “reversed the symbol of the car as an industrial, automated machine and brought it into harmony with nature. He has transformed it into a magical art object through his poetic vision.” The Earthly Paradise series made up collectively of all of Yamagata’s cars have been displayed as the focus of their exhibit at the Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery, at the Venice Biennale in 1995, and on a tour of European museums that lasted through 1997. They were also the subject of a hardcover book, Earthly Paradise, the introduction to which was written by the renowned Beat poet Allen Ginsberg.
This bright beauty here was sold for $187,000 last year so frankly, the universe isn’t going to give me this car but hey if you got it I bet the juice is worth the squeeze. Just imagine pulling up at your prom, graduation or wedding in this floral baby. Classic!