The Great Hand Car Regatta in Santa Rosa

Last Sunday it was hot (almost as hot as last years 105° burn out) at The Great Hand Car Regatta in Santa Rosa, but the heat didn’t keep my wife and me away from this stylish feast of fashion. The event is best described as steam punk meets the wild west or Victorian science fiction a la Jules Verne. Either way, the Hand Car Regatta is this generation’s version of a Renaissance faire and it’s a blast. Many people were dressed in Victorian era fashion with Corsets, bowlers and top hats, pocket watches, and loads of aviator glasses. In other words, plenty to draw for those with an artistic eye and a sketchbook in hand.

Scattered throughout the event were large kinetic sculptures that were also shown at the Burning Man Festival in the Nevada desert. I spent nearly an hour hiding from the sun in a rare shady spot and drew this large 30-40 foot tall butterfly sculpture (last year in 2009). It was a tough draw too because  the butterfly wings, along with other parts of this kinetic sculpture, rotated slowly in separate directions with the afternoon breeze.

With the sculpture drawing now done and my shade diminishing, I decided to braved the sun and gather with the crowds to watch the hand car races. These uniquely designed, hand made vehicles are powered along 700 yards of train track to the finish line by the passengers feet, hands or both. For the last two years I’ve come equipped with my sketchbook and recorded a few scenes from the event for as long as I can stand the heat. But regardless of how hot it is, every year I enjoy this whimsical, mechanical time warp.