Some of the Parts: Seneca Kuchar at Waterloo Arts

Seneca Kuchar,  Holley Carburetors (U110)

An automobile’s innards, parted out in exploded schematics, can be strangely lascivious. And elegant. Seneca Kuchar’s On Blocks: Repair Manual for an American Dream, at Waterloo Arts through Saturday, October 1, 2022, presents the breakdown of things unseen: car guts, rendered for delectation in colors not found in automotive factories, on mylar and steel and cellophane.

Large sheets of opaque white mylar seem to glow behind technically stunning diagrams of systems and parts. In “Fig. 2—Air Flow – Typical,” Kuchar uses layers of aqua and rust colored paints—enamel, oil, interference pigment, and solvent transfer—to give weighty dimension to a schematic drawing of the air flow for a 1960 Dodge passenger car. It hangs exposed and uncovered, showing its secrets.


“Fig. 2-70 ISOLATED-FIELD ALTERNATOR DISASSEMBLY” is an almost-anatomical dissection from “Petersons Big Book of Auto Repair,” built in shades of muscle-red and bone-gray. Its intricate etching-like details of the fluted rotor and the labyrinth of the end shield use lacquer, enamel, oil, and model spray paints with interference pigments. Drop shadow cloud smudges seem to float beneath each part, setting these heavy parts drifting in some mechanized ether.

Installation by Seneca Kuchar

The tryptic of “Holley Carburetors (U110)” is a one-two-three exploration of that critical part supplying the right mix of air with fuel to make an engine go. Here it pulses in reds and oranges, there it stalwartly faces the viewer in somber blacks and dirty golds, and finally it unspools into precision-frenetics: an unending black line swooping in, out, around, and down.

An engine block sulks in the corner, a damaged condenser from a 2004 Buick Lasabre hangs above its bent front bumper, and a gallery door is marked “10. Door” on the spec sheet that details all works.

Monochrome tech almost missed: on the garage-shop gray floor is a surprisingly simple drawing of “Jacking and hoisting locations—Omni and Horizon,” in darker gray paint. An installation of a worn Autolite cabinet is a shrine: RCA radio on top (tuned softly to an adults hit station; can you hear Rod Stewart singing “Forever Young”?), Joe Camel and Busch beer ads, light bulbs, the ever-present dog-eared reference book, and automotive paint finishes both real and imagined.

Works of Seneca Kuchar

Repair the chaos: look, there are manuals on how to do just that, over there on the bright red rolly cart by the front window. Those books show the delicate sparseness of the reasons why things go: Kuchar takes those all apart to put them back together, better.

Waterloo Arts, located at 15605 Waterloo Road, Cleveland 44110, is open Thursday through Saturday, 12 noon to 4 p.m.

The opinions expressed on CAN Blog are those of the individual writers. Art is somewhat subjective. Well, somewhat. But yes, everybody's a critic.

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