A mingling of art and cars

Library displays new, unique collections

Cars, hearts and nature's beauty - sounds like a recipe for a romantic destination. In this case, it's the combination of collections currently on display at the Cortez Public Library.

Judy Wolfe's 30-plus model collection of 1950s classic automobiles, Mary Gay Bahlinger's graphic prints and paintings from the library's featured artist, Jay Whitewolf, are on walls and in cases throughout the library for the month of March.

Bahlinger is showing her 16-piece collection of original graphic art prints. Each print is a large heart, with a different theme showcased in the center. With names like, "The Contented Heart," "The Tartan Heart," "The Healthy Heart" and "The Solar Heart," Bahlinger shows off her knack for individualized style.

She originally started gifting family and friends with these hearts, as they were going through major life events. She found a way to interpret birthdays, anniversaries and retirement into a piece of art. From the first gifted heart, she has amassed quite a collection of prints.

"The heart is a universal human symbol," she explained. "It's something we all share. It's used in songs and poems - we all have a beating heart."

She begins by drawing the heart and its inner message then she scans the image into her computer. She then uses a couple of software programs to transform her images into colorful graphics. The purpose of her creations was to indicate what Bahlinger saw in someone else's heart.

"The Chicken Heart" - which portrays two hens filling out the curvature of the heart and a single egg at the center's tip lying in a patch of grass - was made for her daughter who raises chickens and sells eggs. Another, "The Dragon Heart," a colorful, coiled Chinese New Year dragon, was for a friend having open-heart surgery. Each of Bahlinger's creations are focused on comforting and celebrating the people in her life.

Her prints are filled with adaptations of emotions, cultures and patterns. One, cleverly named "The Exclamation Heart," resembles the needles of a speedometer. The dancing pattern at the base tricks the eyes into seeing a racing pulse.

"I want the public to see whatever they want in the graphics," Bahlinger said, emphasizing the fact that everyone has different meanings to their life paths. In order for the public to share their own thoughts, there is a table of small, blank paper hearts at the library where visitors can draw their own individual interpretations to hang with Bahlinger's.

"I encourage everyone to take one and think about what's in their heart," Bahlinger said.

While considering their heart's desire, visitors can also glimpse an array of Thunderbirds, Impalas, Nomads, VW Beetles, Studebakers and more. This unique collection of classic cars range from the 1950s to the 1960s. Robin's egg blue, bubblegum pink and parakeet yellow boldly emblazon Wolfe's collection. All are reminiscent of the soda shop hangouts and the cuffed denim days.

As a little girl Wolfe's father would buy her the 1/24 model cars from the automobile dealerships each time a new vehicle came out. When she grew too old for model cars they were given away. Wolfe picked the hobby back up 15 years ago.

"The cars from the '50s have always been dear to me," Wolfe said. "When I was little, I played with dolls and cars."

Wolfe, whose favorites include the 1955-57 Thunderbirds, said at one time she could tell the make and model of a car simply by looking at its tail lights.

"A lot of people don't believe this is my collection," she said. "They think it's my husbands."

She still wishes to expand her collection - purchasing cars whenever and wherever she finds them. The collection itself is not worth any numerical value but it means a great deal to Wolfe.

"I've noticed that people like them because they remember when they had cars like that, and where they used to go," Wolfe said. "They bring back good memories."

Also featured is the artist of the month, Jay Whitewolf. His paintings of wolves, forestry and equine novelty can be viewed throughout March.

The library is located at 202 N. Park St. For more information on the art displays and collections, contact Laura McHenry at 564-4037.