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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Southwest artist aims to intersect art and speed
    Gunther Maier

    Photo courtesy of Gunther Maier,

    A New Mexico artist who paid a visit to Tucson this weekend aims to use the aesthetics of classic cars to combine art and speed.

    Jeff Brock is a self-made and self-taught artist who has been crafting metal since he was 10-years-old. He spent much of Saturday sitting outside of the Sacred Machine Museum and Curiosity Shop in downtown Tucson with his 1952 Buick Super Riviera.

    Brock dropped by the gallery this weekend to show his collection of Rocket Jewels, rocket-shaped pendants he creates from metal. But when he’s not making jewelry, Brock is working underneath and on top of the hoods of classic cars to make them works of art. Brock also brought his 1952 Buick Super Riviera, which he crafted from the ground up.

    Brock said his father, who was building custom motorcycles in the late 1950s and 1960s, taught him to weld in the early 1970s. At 51, Brock said he’s been working on vehicles all of his life.

    “I grew up watching him race and picked up on that gene because I had a need for speed and a creative urge,” Brock said of his father. “We call it the intersection of art and speed.”

    The Santa Fe-based artist said he has been customizing motorcycles all of his life, but he first began working on building cars in 2008. Brock said if he sees a candidate for customization, he begins building vehicles from scratch, looking to satisfy both the aesthetic and speedy nature of a vehicle.

    “It’s all about aesthetics to me. It’s got to be something where the whole thing comes together as a work of art,” Brock said.

    Brock said he and his associates at his studio hold an appreciation for vehicles from the late ’50s and ’60s, where post-war vehicles were inspired by aerodynamic design.

    In 2009, Brock and two apprentices created the Buick in three months. The car, he said, is loaded with a 1950 straight 8-power Buick road master engine.

    “That car really transcends all generations. It’s the biggest compliment I’ve ever had for a piece of art,” Brock said. “When we took off, there were sweet, little old ladies taking pictures of the car.”

    The car is nicknamed “Bombshell Betty” and is currently the world record holder for the XO/GCC class of racecar.

    “Even people who don’t know they’re artists create objects of beauty because it’s inherent in trying to go faster,” Brock said, adding that people inherently create objects of beaut, even if they don’t know they’re artists.

    “Bombshell Betty” can go as fast as 170 mph, and each year it’s designed to drive faster.

    “For one thing, to run the car is like a drug high that isn’t drugs,” Brock said. “I’ve been everywhere and done everything. That feeling, to build something and to develop a relationship enough with it to risk your life across the earth, is a ridiculous high.”

    Follow Casey Knox @Knox_Casey

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