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Von Dutch Artwork Keeps On Cruising

September 09, 2002

As "Car Painter Earned His Stripes" (Sept. 2), your feature on the legendary Southern California pinstriper, suggests, "everyone who knew him or even spent five minutes with him has some crazy tale." Absolutely true, and here's my "crazy tale." In the 1960s, Von Dutch worked out of his garage in Reseda. One rainy evening he lifted a piece of footprint-and-paint-laden cardboard from the floor of his workshop and announced to no one in particular that "some idiot's going to pay me $100 for this."

He pinned the filthy cardboard to the wall and placed strips of masking tape over the cardboard in seemingly random patterns. As he finished painting each of a half dozen or so motorcycle tanks, he would turn to the cardboard and put on a coat of the then-popular pearlescent or flake finishes. After heat lamps dried the paint, Dutch would peel off several strips of the tape to reveal a new surface for the next color. Our disbelief turned to fascination as the lowly piece of garage detritus became an abstract geometric worthy of Piet Mondrian, at least in our eyes. The motorcycles Dutch painted for me are long gone; I can only hope that, somewhere, Dutch's "cardboard masterpiece" is being proudly displayed.

Lee Hunt

Northridge

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