Found: General Motors Corp, Janesville, WI

Found: General Motors Corp., Janesville, Wisconsin 53545.
Home of the famous Chevrolet cars & trucks. Founded in 1923 (sic).
Celebrated 50 Golden Years in 1973. Located on banks of the beautiful Rock River.
Photo & Pub. by G.R. Brown Co., Rt. 5, Eau Claire, Wis. 54701 circa 1975
Less than 40 years after this proud postcard hit the streets, the General Motors plant in Janesville closed. Employing thousands of people over the decades, production at the plant ceased on December 23, 2008. The last Chevy Tahoe that rolled off the production line that day was raffled to raise funds for the United Way. Janesville wasn't the only Wisconsin town to make cars, Kenosha, Milwaukee, Oshkosh, Racine and more did too. From the Kissel Kar, made in Hartford, to the Excalibur designed by Brooks Stevens to the Little Nash Rambler, Wisconsin is known to be home of about three dozen motor vehicle makers. As the 20th century wore on, workers making cars gave way to artists using them as subject matter, medium, and process. In 1953, Robert Rauschenberg asked composer John Cage to drive his Model A Ford over 20 sheets of paper to make Automobile Tire Print. Starting in 1959,  John Chamberlain made automobile "collage" sculptures. The Ant Farm buried 10 Cadillac fins-up along Route 66 in 1974 to make Cadillac Ranch, oft referred to as the most famous public art work in America. Artists and entrepreneurs have found that cars transport both the body and the mind making for eerie associations. That same year, performance artist Chris Burden had himself crucified to a VW Beetle for his Trans-Fixed piece. We remember seeing Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow's bullet-riddled 1934 Ford V8 getaway car displayed in a semi-trailer in a shopping mall parking lot in the 1970s. These days it's on display for free at a casino/hotel near Las Vegas. An upcoming gallery exhibition in Miami called Piston Head: Artists Engage the Automobile examines the use of the car in art since 1970. The organizers argue that cars are the symbol of American consumerism and the "quintessential machine of modern life." The show features work by trendy contemporary artists like Richard Prince whose Hood series uses 1960s muscle car hoods to conjure dreams fueled by a desire to escape and the Bruce High Quality Foundation, an enigmatic art collective that deployed an entangled Volkswagon in a recent work.  Displayed in the context of a parking ramp at one of the biggest international art events of the year, the car becomes sacred icon and cathedral (Barthes). Meanwhile in Kenosha, Janesville, and Milwaukee, the car plants have been abandoned or have disappeared altogether. 

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