Maker City KC

Homecoming queen: Artist Peggy Noland is returning to Kansas City to wrap cars in art

Artist Peggy Noland is returning to Kansas City in the fall for the Crossroads Hotel’s artists-in-residency program. Noland will use the hotel’s studio space to wrap cars with everything from holographic acrylic film to faux fur.
Artist Peggy Noland is returning to Kansas City in the fall for the Crossroads Hotel’s artists-in-residency program. Noland will use the hotel’s studio space to wrap cars with everything from holographic acrylic film to faux fur.

Peggy Noland is coming back to Kansas City.

Noland, an artist got her start as a fashion designer with a kaleidoscopic shop on 18th Street in the Crossroads Arts District, has been living in Los Angeles for the better part of the last decade. During that time, she designed sets for Coachella and clothes for Rihanna, Miley Cyrus and Lady Gaga.

Noland will be in Kansas City from September 1 through November 15 for her first-ever solo show at the Crossroads Hotel, 2101 Central St. The show, which is part of the hotel’s artists-in-residency program, will feature the artist wrapping cars with everything from holographic acrylic film to colorful paint and faux fur.

Consider it a live, more avant-garde version of the MTV show “Pimp My Ride.”

“The hotel gallery will become Peggy’s garage,” says program curator Hesse McGraw of El Dorado architecture firm. “We thought it would be vibrant and an amazing way to activate the space and the experience guests could have in the hotel. It’s also a way to rethink what an art exhibition could be.”

Noland’s bold experiments with art cars have been documented in The New York Times and on a YouTube series called Peggy’s Cartoon-Up.

Peggy Noland Candy Pain art car
Noland wrapped a 2011 Toyota Corolla with faux fur for Mikki Yamashiro, a Los Angeles-based wrestler who goes by the name Candy Pain. Peggy Noland

McGraw says Noland’s exhibition will test the boundaries of the Crossroads Hotel’s artists-in-residency program, which has previously showcased artists such as painter and sculptor James Woodfill, photographer Mike Sinclair and Rashawn Griffin, who works in painting, sculpture and installation.

“Our hope is that people get an unexpected peek behind the curtain and are able to get a glimpse into the creative process,” he says. “The cars become public art works that then have a life of their own and move about the city.”

We recently caught up with Noland over the phone to talk about her upcoming residency and return to Kansas City.

“Kansas City has changed so much since I left,” she said. “I really care about the community, and I’m so looking forward to coming back and relearning the city. I feel like an observer, seeing my hometown grown up.”

How did you get started making cars into art?

The first car I did was Brock Bryan’s car in KC. He was working for me at the shop and I wanted to give him a thank you gift. He had a convertible Chrysler, and we painted it like a Skittles box. It was a blue Skittles car. I casually filmed it on my phone and posted photos.

Peggy Noland blue Skittles car in the Crossroads Arts District
Noland got into making art cars after creating a blue Skittles car for a friend in Kansas City. Peggy Noland

I felt very nervous about using Home Depot paint instead of automotive paint. I knew jumping in it was going to have to be an all-inclusive DIY project. I had a $60 budget. It was really just an experiment.

When I got back to Los Angeles, some friends and I had started talking about filming it more seriously, in the vein of “Pimp My Ride,” but taking a tutorial-based approach. I didn’t see myself apprenticing or spending the years that pros do getting good at painting or wrapping cars — I saw it as another medium, like paint or fabric.

How did the Crossroads Hotel residency come about?

I’ve been talking to Hesse for a year trying to find the right fit for the show. My being in Los Angeles always changed the conversation — it was easier to imagine doing something there if it was for a bigger chunk of time.

I didn’t realize this until talking to Hesse, but it’s my first solo show. To be totally honest, I felt like I had a 13-year solo show with my shop (which closed last summer). I was very intentionally pursuing my art through my own space. I wasn’t trying to fit into the gallery world or speak the gallery language.

(The residency) feels mature. It feels like I’m able to take myself serious in that way.

What’s your first project?

I will be wrapping a holographic truck. I hope this car sets the tone for the entire show and attracts the right type of client.

I’ve posted to my (Instagram) stories little hints that I’m coming. There seems to be a ton of interest from KC — a lot of people have sent me sweet messages. I’ll just be doing as many cars as I can. And then I would love to have a giant car show at the end. That could be really fun. But who knows, (the cars) could be halfway across the world at that point!

How do you feel about working in a busy public space?

I’m curious to see how it plays out. It will be the first time I’m working in this way.

Wrapping cars takes very intense concentration to do it well — my eyes have to be on it. We’ll have to find that happy medium of working, but also getting to see what’s going on in KC and catching up with people.

Peggy Noland white pickup truck art car
Noland documented several of her car makeovers on a YouTube series called “Peggy’s Cartoon-Up.” Peggy Noland

I asked the hotel as we were talking about (the residency): “What happens when I’ve been working on one piece for five hours and someone comes up to ask about the process and I mess up?”

I do feel like that’s an exciting part of this process. I’m not car pro — I’m still learning. I want to encourage people not wait until they’re pros to try something.

How can people sign up to get their cars wrapped or decorated?

The Crossroads Hotel is going to provide a sign-up sheet where you can be considered for the project. Cars start at $3,500 for materials and labor. The price is dependent on the size of the vehicle, and of course there will be price differences based on design and materials used.

If you have something specific in mind, I’m open to collaborations and I’m also open to having it be completely a surprise to the owner. I’ll need the cars for about a week. I’m going to do as many as I can do before November 15; that’s the end date.

I’ll do tractors, I’ll do a $3,500 skateboard. This is an experiment. Show us what you got, ask the question — nothing is off limits at this point.