Tire Art Roundup Part 1

It’s a safe bet that nobody from Goodyear, Firestone, Les Schawb or other tire sellers and manufacturers could imagine that one day tires would form the basis of incredible art. There is a glut of tires in the world. They wear out but exist in a useless, worn out form. We pay disposal fees and forget about them. Old tires become the stuff of billowing, smoky tire fires. They are made into sandals and welcome mats. Used tires have multiple uses but that’s what I thought up off the top of my head. So why not art? Their material usefulness and ability to be repurposed is proof of this possibility.

I became conscious of Tire Art last year. As I was riding my bike to work through the St. Johns area each day I would vary my route either to find a quicker way or as a means to break up the monotony. One route delivered me to a dead end. In front of a house sat two tires one of which was painted. The combination of paint and tire is sometimes, but not always, a sign of Tire Art. It made me consider the tires way up on Columbia Blvd., planted in the dirt and painted. I think there were flowers inside. I’m still searching for the best moment to capture the essence of this display with flowers in full bloom and the tires painted and shining in all their sunlit glory. There will be a second post. There’s only so much tire art any one can digest at one time so I’m keeping the portions small.

In the Swing of Things

To offer greater perspective on Tire Art, allow me to present the classic tire swing.

The classic!

It seems timeless and true, harkening back to a bygone era, mind you as you are all probably well aware, it has nothing to do with actual Tire Art.

But when a tire is chopped up and restyled, this reimagination is a transformative art form.


At this point the tire serves double duty but mostly remains Tire Art until it finds itself in use as a tire swing .


Make a Wish

Wishing you well.

Off North Williams I found a painted tire being used to form the basis of a combination wishing well and mail box. This piece is hitting on many cylinders with that winning and functional combination. It helps that the tire incorporates a faux brick finish and a flower arrangement.

tire art close up

Tire Art, up close!


Desperate Times

Tire Art 5

I’ll have the five stack.

A desperate attempt to glean some semblance of Tire Art can be found in this photo of a stack of tires. There’s paint but the haphazard application is more slap dash than abstract. The only way you’ll get Tire Art from this piece is through a hefty dose of imagination. I tend to take pictures and analyze later as I’m excited to see tire arrangements whenever I can. This is a nice stack with color flourishes, but no amount of photographic trickery could up the art quotient.


Tire Art King

Stack attack.

The business on Lombard Street is known as The Tire King for a reason. If nothing else, they’re the king of Tire Art. They’ve displayed tires in many different ways but this set up caught my eye with it’s use of lighting and multicolored garland. It’s festive, cake shaped and an artistic way of creating a sculptural tire advertisement.

Treading lightly.


Color Me Impressed

All in a row.

This display created excitement by simply being at the top of my street in the Kenton neighborhood. It’s Tire Art close to home offering rainbow bright colors, though not quite in ROYGBIV order. These tires brighten up landscaping and are now doing double duty as planters. This display truly hits on many of the tenants of high Tire Art involving paint and imaginative arrangement.

Remove hubcaps, add plants.

Part two of our Tire Art series will run next week as we wait for the photos to get back from the developer.

Next week: Creepy Stairs, Not Stares

Art on the Blvd

It was a gradual thing, a minimal cultural renaissance that I noticed happening outside a trio of buildings along North Columbia Blvd., an industrial collection of warehouses and blue collar businesses. I want to imagine the art in this area springing up from the businesses trying to one up each other. That would explain the three pieces of roadside art in close proximity to one another. Regardless of the how and the why, without this art work, there would only be views of parking lots, weeds, railroad tracks and corrugated steel walls.

Art Flag 2 (1)

The exploding American flag has always been hard to miss. Bright, bold and a tad fuzzy, the flag reveals a stylish patriotism. What the initials SMF on the building stand for is still a mystery as Google searches would only direct me to information about the Sacramento airport so it’s anyone’s guess how the flag relates to the business. This just in: I caught a glimpse of the sign on the other side of the building. SMF stands for Specialty Metal Fabricators, not as much of a mystery as I thought.

Art Flag 1

Art Flag 3 detail

Trying to write about the flag painting technique only makes me feel like an art critic or art historian, something I’m not qualified to be. I appreciate the ragged stripes, star bursts and the 3D aspect of the waving flag revealed when I got up close and personal with this piece. There’s an energy, pizazz even (probably not an art critic word) although it wouldn’t take much to brighten up the gray skies and grimy surroundings of the Columbia Blvd industrial district.

Mural on Columbia wide (1)

A couple of buildings down, I noticed a mural. From a distance, I suspected it was making a statement about or depicting the realities homelessness. I like the train-car graffiti style and political feel.

Mural on Columbia close up

The imagery communicates the idea of humans being put out with the trash. Up close, the human is not fully detailed. I was thinking, “hotdog in a bun.”  I enjoy how the painting is framed in a starry-sky dream-world. It’s also a great addition to a bland cement wall.

Mantis wide (1)

The mantis appears to be more of a legitimate art piece. It may relate to the nondescript business inside. It reminds me of how cool praying mantises are. As a kid, I saw them as unusual, rare and exciting. They still seem exotic and more fascinating than gross. So a giant mantis is a good choice to break up a monotonous wall.

mantis close up (1)

This mantis seems to be peeling off his black background – artistic effect or a cause for concern?  We don’t know. The subtle red outline also adds  dimension. I’ve always been happy to look across the road and see this particular praying mantis. It’s art where it’s sorely needed.

You can take this art walk on Columbia Blvd off of N. Argyle anytime. You don’t need a First Friday, Third or Last Thursday to have a look.  You may have to dodge trains or stumble over weeds, but the tour potential is there. These works also have drive-by possibility. See the art while driving on Columbia Blvd heading towards St. Johns.


Many thanks to the blog Stag Beetle Power for listing us in their favorites column. Their latest post has a great list of upcoming events so be sure to check that out.