A Rolls Royce is almost like a work of art in and of itself. They are one of the few vehicles, from the leather seating to the rims, that are completely hand-crafted by professionals. Nothing assembled on a factory line, nothing cheap. They essentially define luxurious elegance, which is all the more reason that Long Island-based multimedia artist Ben Moon felt liberated when he was able to use a Rolls as his canvas with his piece Our Painted Lady. “When I was a kid I was constantly getting in trouble for drawing on walls and things like that,” says Moon, “So imagine how fun it was to be able to do work on a Rolls Royce. It’s punk rock, and it proved a very interesting canvas.”
The project was initiated by Frank Marzano, Managing Principal of the GM Advisory Group, whose daughter went to school with Moon. For the project, he donated his 1985 Rolls Royce that only had 38,000 miles on it. Clearly, Marzano believed in the validity of the project. “The whole thing was his idea,” says Moon of Marzano, “He has this huge collection of cars but he gave us his baby Rolls.”
Moon is an artist that incorporates both visual and audible elements into his sound. Most famously his ROKLYFE project incorporated projected visuals, interactive social media, and live and pre-recorded music for a fully immersive sonic environment. Given his interest in merging sounds into his art, Moon found much inspiration in the actual object of the Rolls Royce. “I’ve loved all car sounds, all vehicle sounds, like a Harley or a Porsche,” he says, “Every engine has its own style, and the Rolls Royce definitely had its own style, its own sound.”
The model of the car itself, 1985, did not immediately stick out to Moon, but after thinking about it, he realized that the year that the car was made was actually a big component into the work he created. Being from Long Island, Moon has a connection to the opulent wealth and lifestyle that defines the Hamptons that most artists either cannot identify with, or simply downplay because they do not want it infringing on their artistic identity. Famously, Basquiat, who despite growing up in an upper middle class family in Brooklyn, downplayed this part of his persona to show solidarity with the graffiti movement, not recognizing that this dichotomy was part of what made him interesting. But Moon identifies his upbringing in wealthy suburbia as exactly what it is, an interesting artistic background and an aspect of who he is.
The Rolls Royce used for the piece represents a window into wealth and was even built in the 1980s, the decade that defines excessive luxuriousness more than any other, Moon finds all of that intriguing. “The ’80s were a formative time for me,” he says, “I grew up in the North Shore of Long Island, I was surrounded by cars like this all of the time. And now that I’m thinking of it I see that this project definitely brought back distinctive memories of my childhood, my upbringing.”
Speaking of luxury, this very special painted over Rolls Royce will be available to buy, but only to the highest bidder. Moon and Marzano were initially looking to sell by the end of the summer, but have since decided to continue showing the piece until the end of the year. This is sure to be a priceless item, so think towards investment. Plus, all the proceeds will go to the Wounded Warriors Project, a charity helping United States veterans assimilate back into civilian life.
Most recently, Moon has been working on a mural, entitled Our Place on the Globe, in the Upper West Side neighborhood the Commons in conjunction with CITYArts, an organization that breeds community interconnectivity through the arts.