Mark Monroe's Brick Mobile


The Brickmobile was a project created in 1996 by the sculpture class at Austin College, in Sherman Texas and I was the instructor. The 1968 Ford Country Sedan station wagon was taken out of semi-retirement and donated by the original owner, my father Kenneth Monroe. The genesis of the idea came from many discussions looking for a connecting theme for 16 middle class college students. The predominant sentiment was that all of us came from similar cookie-cutter suburban neighborhoods with brick houses, backyards and station wagon driving parents. We decided to embrace our absolutely safe and sound American kid backgrounds by making a monument to the nostalgic world of Car-pools, big V-8 engines, and Pleasant Valley streets. Making the Brickmobile was a bit more complicated than building a brick wall. The initial work involved carefully griding out and numbering what turned out to be 839 separate spaces for the “bricks”. Using hand crafted ceramic tiles made from Red River clay deposits, the students formed the exact contours of the car, numbered each tile to correspond with the car's grid, and fired the tiles. Then they affixed them by using a special but non-patented system of two blobs of adhesives. One blob was M-200, a sub-floor adhesive and the other was 100% silicone put into the center of the brick to suppress vibrations. Final preparations included applying a grout prepared with a concrete bonding adhesive and then reattaching all of the car's original chrome. The car looks heavy and it is. However, the car was originally equipped with a 390 cubic inch V-8 with a four-barrel Holley carburetor and the added weight of all of the bricks and concrete is only 870 pounds. As sculptor James Surls observed, in Texas, that's only four bubbas in the back! Having appeared in the 1996 Houston Art Car parade, and receiving all sorts of accolades for the Brickmobile. The art students at Austin College have built additional art-car projects. One car was the Hale-Bopp Comet Car, which was a memoriam to our former student, Marshal (Herf) Apelwhite and Austin College’s traditions in leadership. Another was a multimedia and theatrical event, The Midsummer's Night Dream Car.

Some more Art Car links: Art Car Agency, and The Orange Show