Big names like Shepard Fairey and Banksy have long-dominated the conversation around street art. But for car lovers, the name on your lips should be Mitchell Schorr. For roughly the last eight years, the New York-born street artist and muralist has splashed urban landscapes with his childhood fantasies of colorful racecars, ice cream trucks, police cars, and a never-ending chase.
Titled Da Race, Schorr’s playful racing streetscape series started as a way to reach out and involve people in his world. So why cars? “Everyone has a memory about a car, something from their childhood,” says Schorr. “It was about making that kid-like fascination interactive.”
For Schorr, the ice cream truck that’s always vying for position in his scenes is his link to that feeling of being a child. When he decided to combine his early ice cream truck paintings with his race-car paintings, Da Race was born. Schorr has a fast and loose visual style, forced into action by the, let’s say, hasty nature with which he sometimes works. Some of his works are commissioned. Others aren’t, which means Schorr is completely prepared to have his works removed or destroyed by the powers that be.
Whether Schorr and his spraycans conquer a garage door, concrete wall, rooftop, or bridge underpass, longtime fans and new viewers alike are encouraged to enjoy the spectacle. Against the backdrop of constantly flowing traffic, his lighthearted chapters in this constantly evolving race remind us how cars can lift the imagination.
“I want people to watch and really root for someone to win,” says Schorr. “But the thing about street art is you can’t expect it to last. It’s like a Zen rock garden—you expect it to disappear and change, if say, a building gets painted over or destroyed. But it’s still nice to see the ones that have had some longevity.”
The next stage of Schorr’s frenetic aerosol experiment might be the biggest yet. This weekend at Rockefeller Center he will do a live spraypaint demonstration and Da Race creation as part of Ferrari’s 70th anniversary celebration.
"I've always loved the Ferrari California, so this will be hugely exciting,” he says, with anticipation palpable in his voice. “This whole project just goes to show how you never know what will happen once a piece of art is out there.”
Still, Schorr’s moment of arrival—at least by his own yardstick—happened when the Detroit Institute of Art added one of his ice cream truck paintings into its permanent collection. “Being on the wall of a museum feels like the pinnacle of making it as an artist,” he says. “I can’t believe they put me down the hall from Picasso, and right next to Frank Stella.”
Da Race grew from its roots in New York to the streets of Detroit as well as Hong Kong, and even a remote barn in Burlington, Vermont. Schorr says he’s not sure where it all will end. “I always want to make it bigger and better, and I’ll be there when opportunity presents.”
Keep up with Mitchell Schorr on Instagram, or on his website, http://www.mitchellschorr.info/