California Dreamin’ — Local Artist Todd Williamson Illustrates an LA Fantasy at a German Art Exhibit

A license plate in California will cost you $46 (or as much as $103 if you want a customized — aka “vanity” — plate.) That’s a deal compared to the $17.26 million that Afzal Kahn was asking last year for the “F1” plate on his Bugatti Veyron SuperSport in London.

An image of that plate has been constructed by West Hollywood artist Todd Williamson as part of the “California Dreamin’, an Uncertain Paradise” exhibit at the MAC Museum of Art and Cars in Singen, Germany.

The exhibit opens on Oct. 31 and among those anticipated to attend are art world personalities such as Sixtine Crutchfield, Silke Kastien, Ursula Baudson, Joni Levy, Raoul Rosenbaum, and Philipp Thomas.

License plate on Afzal Kahn’s Bugatti (Instagram @afzalkahn )

The artists whose work will be on exhibit have provided images of iconic plates such as F1, 1, 250, VIP 1, each purchased by a ‘collector’ for millions. The exhibit, says a statement by Williamson, “asks why a lowly, common license plate can be worth such vast sums of money, many times more than the automobiles they adorn most of the time.

“Is it ego, gross depictions of wealth, or is it self-reflection and the markings of an avid collector?  Automobiles have been a reflection of who we are and how we see ourselves.

“Collectors such as Jay Leno, Jerry Seinfeld, Ralph Lauren, John Cena, Gerard Lopez, or the Sultan of Brunei (with his 7,000 strong collections of automobiles) are examples of this.

“Plates such as FUKTRMP and ILOVELA are more political and ask very strong questions of who we are, who we support and why. 

“The imagery of the ‘sword’ in many of the paintings represents the life path chosen by these individuals and the personality traits are shown using color, mysticism, and established thought on how colors represent our personalities and emotions…

“Are we not paying close enough attention to changes that are occurring around us because they happen so quickly?  Are we giving our power to the next saint or to a tyrant?  Is power the ultimate corrupter or does it wield its ugly sword and kill the dragons around us?”

The exhibit opens as economic disparity in the United States has grown radically and become a major issue in the campaign by candidates for the Democratic Party’s nomination for president. Another auto-related issue that gets little attention in Los Angeles or in West Hollywood is ozone pollution. Los Angeles, an urban community within which West Hollywood sits, has ranked No. 1 in the American Lung Association’s annual ranking of major cities with poor air quality.  According to the ALA, L.A.’s major issue is ozone, which has increased since 1997-1999. Ozone comes largely from fuel combustion. It causes respiratory issues and is a factor in heart attacks, strokes, heart disease, and congestive issues.

Williamson’s exhibit in Singen, Germany, follows his participation in the Venice Biennale. His project there, “Processional,” was “a statement on ‘influencers and thought-provokers’ and the power they have in today’s society,” said Williamson, who is a member of the city’s Arts and Cultural Affairs Commission.

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