HITCH HIKER PROJECT

In the summer of 1981, the non-profit Detroit Focus Gallery requested entries for a mail art show.

I was out of town in a meadow in the middle of Michigan, cutting shadows out of plywood, painting them and placing them in the fields and woods. Some were shapes of sun-cast shadows traced on plywood set on the ground. This black one was from the shadow of a hitch hiker's gesture.

Some were sitting or standing silhouettes of figures traced from himself and his son, Jason. This cutout of the shadow of Jason (left) was shotgunned when it was left out during hunting season.

One was a silhouette of me sitting Buddha-like. In the back of his mind was Focus' mail art show. The sitting figure looked like it was waiting for something to come along. It looked like it could be waiting for a ride.  I wondered if it could get a ride to the Focus Gallery.  I put a sign around his neck, "DETROIT", and a note on the back that said "Get me to a party at 743 Beaubien Street at 7:30 June 10th. You can come, too. Until then I don't much care. Take me as far as you going and set me by the side of the road. Please, don't put me on the expressway."

 
(August, 1981) 

Three days later, a young man walked into the Focus Gallery with the figure under his arm, wanting to know from the director, Gere Baskin, what this was all about.

She told him.

He returned for the opening of the Mail Art Show.

 

Well, that was all the encouragement I needed.  In the next few weeks I put a major fraction of his immediate family on the road.

Hitchhiker of James M. Laur ( father-in-law, Oct. 1981) ends up nailed to a barn wall in Illinois.
 
 

hitchhiker of Janet Laur Pallas,  wife (Oct. 1981). Last seen on the side of the blacktop of M-43 in Michigan.


Hitchhiker of Lydia Laur (Pallas) Lorendaughter (Oct. 1981) disappeared from the shoulder of blacktop M-50 near Lake Odessa, Michigan.
 

By this time, I had worked out a modus operandi to trace a silhouette of the subject onto a piece of plywood and paint the plywood cut-out to look like a photo of the subject. The subject would be given the cutout with the understanding that, within one year, they would write something (anything) on the back and abandon it.

Hitchhiker with David Barr (artist) (October 1981)

 It disappears on its way into the vast arctic.

Hitchhiker of architect Larry Booth (June, 1982)

Larry Got a note from an antique shop in Michigan that his cut-out was waiting for a ride

Poet Larry Pike posing for the project.

(November 1981)

Hitchhiker of Beth Dwaihy (dancer) (1982).

Last seen in the hands of Father Hector, a Maronite priest.

hitchhiker of Bob Casky (artist)) (1982). Casky's hitchhiker's detached arm boomeranged into the cold war.

 
 
 
 

hitchhiker of Ray Johnson (artist) and hitchhiker of myself, (in progress outside of my Grosse Pointe studio.(November, 1981) Ray couldn't let go.

hitchhiker of Detroit celebrity, Sonny Elliot in front of the Marshal Frederick's "Spirit of Detroit" at the foot of Woodward Avenue. Sonny survives ignominious treatment and abandonment only to land on the right corner but the wrong museum. (March, 1982)


 
 

Newspaper reporter Jim Kerwin with Hitchhiker (1982) loses the trail up north. 

Gus Pallas and hitchhiker. When he was twenty years old, my father hopped a freight with three other young men from Sanders, Kentucky to see the 1933 World's Fair in Chicago. In 1989, I had a hand in putting him on the road once again.


Homage to Jean Tinguely (1984). A Parisian subway ride into the unknown was my acknowledgment of an artistic debt.
Pour une version de francais de cette page.





Ann Mikolowski leaning on her 
"Ken Doll" in Ann Arbor.

Dancer Denise Szykula (Dec.1997) 
turns her back on the Hitchhiker Project.


 
 

Artist Charles McGee (1997) gets out of himself.

Senator Carl Levin (1997) gets gets some classic advice.






Journalist Joy Hakanson Colby becomes  the story. Filmmaker Sue Marx thumbs a ride up Woodward Avenue.

Short hop Flamingo
The Short Hop Flamingo edges toward extinction as it migrates down the street.











Art Mother and Whistler's Mother
Demoiselle   in the middle, a femme fatale from Detroit
 
Maurice Greenia (Maugre)  relives some hitch hiking adventures.   

Five Pioneers of Silicon Valley
Lee deForest, Hewlett and Packard, Wm. Shockley, Fred Terman and Robert Noyce-Pioneers of Silicon Valley hit the road equipped with web enabled GPS electronics.

Carry Me Back

Three denizens of Manhattan's past , Saul Steinberg, Thelonious Monk and Lenni Lenape, are kidnapped
off that town's mean streets in Carry Me Back, a game commissioned by Columbia University

The whereabouts are known of only the original Hitchhikers of "Jim", Jim Laur, Larry Booth, Beth Dwaihy , and, of course, the strange case of Ray Johnson's.
Janet, Lydia, David Barr, Larry Pike, Bob Caskey, Jim Kerwin, Gus Pallas, Pallas in Paris,  Ken and Ann Mikolowski, Carl Levin, Charles Mcgee, Sue Marx, Joy Colby, Murice Greenia, Whistler's Mom, La Demoiselle, and myriad "arms" from the International Artists' Arms Race are all missing in action. A solid lead exists for Sonny Elliot.  Since all of the above Hitchhikers (except Ray Johnson's) were abandoned, some legal opinions hold that they are owned free and clear by the "finders." Others maintain that an attached note or inscribed message may constitute a tenuous thread of connection and, thereby encumber their title. In any case, I renounce any personal claim of ownership for myself once the subject abandons it in good faith. I will never try to recover an abandoned Hitchhiker except by purchase with the exception of the five Hitch Hiking Pioneers in the Valley of the Heart's Delight and the Carry Me Back figures

However, I am interested in their whereabouts.  None were signed by me before abandonment. If requested, I will add my signature to any that show up.  If you have any information, documents, photos or anecdotes relating to any of these cut-outs, please contact me, jim (at) jpallas.com.
 

 
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