Vochol Art on Wheels exhibit rolls into DIA today

With its accentuated curves and ability to look good in almost any color, the Volkswagen Beetle was made for customization. Until 2003, the Type1(the beloved and ubiquitous "vintage" model) bug had remained in production with few cosmetic changes for close to thirty years. Though the car has since seen a modern reinvention, the classic VW Beetle is still around, and it serves as the perfect blank canvas for Vochol Art on Wheels, a unique culture-crossing art exhibit opening in the terminal at Denver International Airport today.

In 2010, two Huichol families from the Sierra Madre mountains of west-central Mexico began the Vochol project, devoting 9,000 hours to adhering more than two million beads to a 1990 Volkswagen Beetle. Utilizing close to 200 pounds of glass beads, the Huichol artisans also incorporated resin, fabric, paint and yarn to bring the detailed work to life. From the steering wheel to the rims, geometric patterns surround imagery of man's relationship to the sun, and the spiritual importance of animals and crops in Huichol culture.

With just eight pairs of hands doing the work, the artisans meticulously applied their traditional crafting skills to the iconic automobile for seven months, and the resulting work of art is now making its way around the world, with the current stop in Denver.

After a dedication this afternoon at DIA, Vochol Art on Wheels will be on view at the airport through August 31. (It's in the main terminal, so you don't need to pass through security.)

The display represents a collaboration between the Mexican Cultural Institute, Mexico City's Museo de Arte Popular, the Association of Friends of the Museo de Arte Popular, and the Embassy of Mexico. "This exhibit itself is very unique, because it is the first vehicle that has been created that tells the story of the Huichol culture in Mexico," says Marcela de la Mar, director of education and cultural affairs for the Consulate General of Mexico, which will be at the dedication at 1 p.m. today. The name "Vochol" is a collaboration in itself: "Vocho," is a slang term in Mexico for the Volkswagen Beetle; the exhibit name combines that term with the work's Huichol creators.

Eventually, the Vochol will be auctioned off in New York, with proceeds going toward the work of more than eight million artisans native to Mexico. During its stay in Denver, the beaded Beetle will be accompanied by Vochol-inspired artwork by area students, de la Mar says.

For more information on the Vochol and the Huichol artist families, visit www.vocholdenver.

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