A Carmada Fueled by Female Talent

Women Take Over Art Car Fleet

The Gasparilla Festival of the Arts featured Carmada cars painted by prominent female artists.

Text by Julie Garisto

Photos by Daniel Veintimilla (unless otherwise noted)

Toyota painted by Jujmo at Gasparilla Festival of the Arts. Photo by Daniel Veintimilla

Carmada cruised into Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park for the 48th Annual Raymond James Gasparilla Festival of the Arts, featuring a stellar lineup of women artists.

JujmoMishou SanchezBrook Lyn, and Skylar Suarez transformed cars into “murals on wheels” for the Carmada show presented March 3-4 in downtown Tampa’s Kiley Garden and Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park. The only car not painted by a woman artist belonged to local activist Kelly Benjamin, who drove his “Toaster” painted by Thirst, aka Jared Hernandez, last fall.

“It was really exciting to be a part of Carmada this year at the Gasparilla Arts Fest,” says Brook Lyn. “This was the first year that Carmada had an all-female artist roster for this event. …  This was a huge energy boost. I was and am really thankful that I could be involved this year.”
Creative Clay van painted by Brook Lyn. Photo courtesy of Carmada.

The transformation of familiar automobiles into fantastical works has become an anticipated and celebrated demonstration of public art in Tampa Bay, enjoyed by art lovers in tandem with major art festivals and other events throughout the year.

Founded in 2014, Carmada makes mobile art accessible and fun for all ages through events, outreach and education. Through Carmada’s outreach, Pinellas-based and other greater Tampa Bay artists have shared art car demos and activities at local and regional public events, art festivals and schools.

How does a car get transformed into an art car? Those interested can volunteer their vehicles and sign up for a waiting list, and if their car is a good fit for an event, Carmada contacts them to coordinate a meeting with an artist to schedule a live art demonstration.

“Vehicle owners volunteer to have their cars painted at Carmada events, and we open a conversation between owners and artists to define inspirations and directions for the final work,” says Carmada founder and director Mitzi Gordon.

“We want vehicle owners to be happy, of course, but we also want our artists to have creative freedom, so there is flexibility on both sides. Carmada will continue to partner with creative festivals and organizations — such as the SHINE Mural Festival and Creative Clay St. Pete — throughout the year, with pop-up painting, car exhibition, and possibly even a parade in the works for 2018.”

Supported in part by county and state grant funding, Carmada creates opportunities for regional artists, while also promoting the State of the Arts license plate that funds Florida arts agencies.

“This year’s Carmada Tampa was an amazing experience,” sums up Gordon. “I’m so grateful to have the opportunity to produce this art car show for GFA during the past five years. We wanted to do something different to celebrate our fifth anniversary in Kiley Garden, so I decided to recruit an all-female team of artists to paint vehicles at our live-art portion of the show. Tampa Bay area artists Brooklyn, Jujmo, Mishou Sanchez, and Skylar Suarez were selected based on the quality of their work, and each brought a distinct vision and style to their car projects.

“The diversity of methods and mediums they used — from stencils and spray paint, to sign paint and acrylic markers — brought forth some really exciting results.  Two of the artists had never worked on cars before, and I was so impressed with the art everyone produced.  It is very gratifying to be able to support local artists as they explore new directions.  Each of our artists is always paid a creative stipend, as well as receiving a materials budget for supplies, which at Gasparilla Festival of the Arts is supported by a grant from the Arts Council of Hillsborough County.  Stay tuned to updates by visiting CarmadaFL.com.”

To see past projects and get updates on future events, you can also visit Carmada’s Facebook page.


Leave a Reply

Become a Creative Pinellas Supporter