Greater Harrisburg's Community Magazine

Car as Canvas: So, what if Picasso had owned a 1999 Subaru Impreza?

Thanks to SAM and Midtown resident Kurt Knaus, this car is about to become a work of art, in the style of the Picasso painting below.

This Saturday, the Susquehanna Art Museum is taking art to the outdoors–and to the car doors.

The museum recently opened its new exhibit “Picasso: A Life in Print” and celebrated with a gala in June. There, attendees assisted in painting a large canvas with a Picasso-inspired image. This got Chris Carvell, the general sales manager for Faulkner Subaru, thinking creatively, and he came up with the idea to have Faulkner sponsor a family event.

Soon after, Carvell found the perfect canvas—one of their brand new white cars.

“Guess what guys, we are going to paint a big white Subaru,” Alice Anne Schwab, executive director of SAM, remembers saying to her co-workers.

However, since it was a brand new car, Schwab had some concerns, like how the paint would come off when they were finished.

Luckily, longtime SAM member Kurt Knaus was looking to make a donation to the museum—one in the form of a 20-year-old Subaru Impreza.

“I was like, ‘If you need a Subaru, why don’t you just take mine?’” said the Midtown Harrisburg resident. “I’m so excited that my car is, in a way, going to be part of the exhibit.”

As chance would have it, Knaus had actually purchased the car from Faulkner Subaru in 1999, from a woman who still works there today.

Now, the old Subaru will serve as a free community art project.

“Families can come out and pick up a paint brush and paint,” Schwab said.

Board member Nancy Mendes will be painting a guide on the car to help give the art direction. Schwab related it to a paint-by-number project. The car will be parked in the garden just north of SAM’s building (3rd street between Calder and Reily streets), and painting will begin at noon on Saturday.

While the museum always has exhibits and showings, community involvement activities like these are a special treat.

“Anytime you can have a hands-on experience with an artist […] that’s positive,” Schwab said.

Schwab is not sure what is going to happen with the car after it has been painted, but Knaus jokingly mentioned that maybe he’ll buy it back.

“When this is all said and done, people will recognize my car as I always have seen it—as a piece of art,” Knaus said.

The Susquehanna Art Museum is located at 1401 N. 3rd St., Harrisburg. The car-painting project begins at noon on Saturday, Aug. 3. For more information, call 717-233-8668 or visit 

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