Fortune-Telling Lion by Gretchen Baer

From the Art Cars series — one man’s obsession with America's mobile masterpieces

Photographs by Harrod Blank

ARIZONA — I spent two wild years of my life before the mast of a home-built dragon-shaped art raft that I built with my ex-husband. We lived year-round off-anchor, without mooring or docking, between Provincetown and New York City. Our adventure ranged from magical to Moby Dick-scary. We had no phone or way to contact people, and our dinghy motor was 10hp and temperamental. When the raft, and the marriage, ended up on the rocks, I returned to dry land. 

I created the Great Fortune-Telling Lion car as a totem of my personal strength after the break-up. Having returned to Martha’s Vineyard after two years at sea with what turned out to be a rafting cult — who knew that even existed! — making this almost life-size lion brought back my strength. I painted the car with images I considered lucky and glued the lion on the roof. I made the eyes light up so it could see my future, my good fortune — which, by the way, has so far turned out to be fantastic! 

Other than a trip across country, the Great Fortune-Telling Lion was a daily driving car, but it brought me to a new home and new beginnings. I drove it back to Bisbee, Arizona, where I have called home ever since.