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The “Art” of the Move

The “Art” of the Move

For visual artist Dave Ford, art and a Penske rental truck go together like mustard and a hotdog for most people. Ford, of Chicago, has been creating unique works of art in the back of Penske rental trucks since 2001.

Within the truck’s box section, Ford suspends up to 100 graphite pencil-tipped, one-liter water bottle pendulums over 12, 24-inch by 36-inch panels. Ford fills each bottle with varying amounts of water to change the pencil’s angles and grade. During his travels, gravity, movement and time help create the one-of-a-kind abstract drawings.

“I like the challenge of trying to create elegant art out of ordinary energy sources and materials, and create something that isn’t usually regarded in the art world. The back of the truck seemed like the perfect place for that kind of challenge,” said Ford, who visited Penske’s headquarters in Reading, Pa., in mid-June to display his work in progress and meet with its employees.

Ford has driven Penske trucks since day one because of the company’s timeliness, newer and well-maintained fleet, and excellent customer service. “I’ve had really good experiences with Penske,” he said.

Ford’s creative flair and his passion to make art – along with an empty water bottle, a piece of paper and a pencil – inspired his first truck drawing during a trip from Miami to New York when he was working part-time as an art handler. Rather than waiting to create art until he was home, Ford wanted to utilize his time and energy while traveling.

Using rope and webbing, Ford hung a pencil-tipped water bottle over paper in the passenger seat of his employer’s truck. He didn’t observe much movement as he traveled up I-95, but he saw a considerable change in motion when he reached the N.J. Turnpike and entered into New York City. Ford’s truck drawings were born.

“It started to all make sense to me,” Ford recalls. “It was mirroring what was going on outside. The drawings had a map-like quality to them.”

Today, Ford uses the entire back of a Penske rental truck to create his artwork. Ford’s pit stop at Penske’s headquarters was part of a commissioned trip by Packer Schopf Gallery of Chicago to showcase his truck drawing at the 8th annual Guerrilla Truck Show at Chicago’s Fulton Market June 12. Ford drove round-trip from Chicago to Philadelphia, where he displayed his art in progress during an event, before returning to the Windy City to show off the final creation.

The latest commissioned trip was his eighth long-distance trek to create drawings. His first lengthy journey was from Dallas to New York City on the return trip from delivering art. In 2001, he took his first round-trip voyage in a Penske truck from El Paso, Texas, to a design studio in Falls Village, Conn., that commissioned the trip.

Art lovers appreciate Ford’s whimsical creations, but he wasn’t sure how those outside the art realm would respond to his contemporary work. He unveiled his art to the general public in 2010 during ArtPrize, an open art competition in Grand Rapids, Mich., and was pleased with the response.

“I think people realized that the truck drawings became something nice to look at and not just some gimmicky thing with bottles in the back of a truck,” said Ford, who sold his ArtPrize truck drawing to a private collector.

Visit to learn more about the artist and his works.

Editor’s Note: For the first time, Penske covered the cost for the truck rental in 2012.

By Kandace Wertz