• American Dreaming Film

Detroit's golden age of car design was driven by artists; this is the history, the art and their stories

American Dreaming: Mid-Century Car Design on Film

A documentary about the greatest artists who ever designed cars. In Detroit.

American Dreaming is a documentary film about the men and women who dreamed and designed the iconic American cars that defined the mid-century. From 1946 to 1973 design studios assembled at General Motors, Ford, Packard, Chrysler, Studebaker, Nash, and Hudson created the stylish automobiles Americans fell in love with. Talented artists from around the country answered the call from magazines like Popular Mechanics to “Become a Highly Paid Auto Stylist in Detroit!” Their drawings, and the resulting cars that were built in this period, suggested limitless possilibities and reflected the optimism America that could conquer space and bring prosperity to the entire world.

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LTU hosts April 29 panel discussion on mid-century automotive design

Iconic automotive designers and art historians will discuss mid-century designs of the automotive industry on Wednesday, April 29, from 7-9 p.m. in LTU’s Architecture Building auditorium. the program open to the public and admission is free.

Keith Nagara, director of LTU’s transportation design program, will lead the panel discussion that is being held in conjunction with “American Dreaming: Detroit’s Golden Age of Automotive Design,” the first comprehensive exhibition to offer a look inside the design studios of Detroit’s automakers from 1946 to 1973.

The exhibition, which is also free and open to the public, will run through Saturday, May 2. The hours are noon to 5 p.m. every day in the UTLC gallery. The exhibition will also be open from 6-10 p.m. on April 29 for the panel discussion.

In the post-World War II era, Detroit-based automakers hired university-trained artists to produce the most visually appealing cars. During this mid-century period styling and design were highly valued by automakers, and artists had the opportunity to shape the industry and change the look of the entire country.

What makes this exhibition particularly remarkable is that the car company policies mandated the destruction of preliminary artwork once the final designs were selected for production, so the vast majority of this artwork has disappeared.

Sponsored by LTU’s College of Architecture and Design, the exhibition has been organized and curated by Robert Edwards and Greg Salustro, co-producers of a feature-length documentary film, “American Dreaming,” now in production. They will be filming the panel discussion.

“We want to shine a bright light into the world of Detroit’s automotive design studios and recognize the artists of this golden age of car design,” explained Edwards of Salustro/Edwards Productions.

American Dreaming Film

A documentary about American automotive styling from 1946-1973, featuring interviews with the artists who designed Detroit’s automobiles.

The work of these men and women artists is presently seen in the context of automotive history, not fine art.

By acknowledging the artists and the art behind the automobile, we arrive at a deeper appreciation of an important part of our American heritage.

This film will present the artists who designed the automobiles, and the stories only they can tell.