Robert McClintock's car

Robert McClintock's car (Robert McClintock photo)

It's hard to miss the Mini Cooper plastered with Robert McClintock's colorful images of Baltimore. Unless you're at Artscape's art car exhibit.

The car might sound like a natural for this weekend's automotive-artistic display. Which is why McClintock, a Baltimore artist, tried to enter his newly decorated Mini in the exhibit.

But organizers rejected his entry. Too commercial, they said. The artist concedes the point: The McClintock Mini is, quite literally, an advertising vehicle.

McClintock's name and Website are splashed on the car, right there with his images of the Domino Sugars sign and other local landmarks. It's meant to be a rolling billboard for his Fells Point studio, as promotional as the shrink-wrapped van that urges Baltimoreans to vote for the Conaways.

"It's an advertising car, no doubt about it," he said. "The other Mini Cooper in town is Big Boyz Bail Bonds."

In addition to Baltimore scenes, McClintock paints lots of dogs and he initially planned to have the car covered in his dog art. The mock-up made him think twice.

"It looked more like a mobile grooming service," he said.

McClintock got the car wrapped in vinyl about two months ago. The job set him back about $3,000. That's on top of the cost of the Mini, minus the trade-in value of his wife's Pontiac Vibe.

"It’s been five years in the making, only because my wife wouldn't let me trade away her car to do this thing," he said. "She was going to drive it into the ground.

"'We could wrap the Vibe,'" she told him.

"'No, we can’t wrap the Vibe,'" he insisted. "'The Mini Cooper’s cool. A lot of people look at them anyway.'"

They really look at his.

"You can see people’s jaw kind of drop," he said. "It's definitely a 'Hey, look at me' thing."

That's why McClintock figures it's worth his while to motor up to Artscape, even if his car can't get in.

"I’ll be driving it around the perimeter."