Muffler Men!

By Scott, Beverly | School Arts, April 2001 | Go to article overview

Muffler Men!


Scott, Beverly, School Arts


Smiles and laughs are always in store for Walters, Oklahoma residents as they travel down Highway 5 through the city. A cheery surprise awaits them at the Hathaway and Simpson Muffler Man Shop, courtesy of the MacArthur Junior High School Art Department in Lawton, Oklahoma. The hard work and artistic expertise of more than one hundred young commercial artists have turned a mountain of nondescript old mufflers stacked in front of a muffler shop into an eye-catching art display of very entertaining "Muffler Men."

The new muffler shop "residents" range from brightly painted clowns to weird green aliens and freaky rock stars. Walters motorists may spot a winking grandma, a blonde bombshell, and a very shocked boy. Even Santa is a part of the crowd! The mufflers were carefully designed and painted with acrylic paints and sealed with a protective finish to protect them from the weather. A little extra pizzazz was added with unusual hats, wigs, and glasses that gave the muffler people their unique personalities.

The creators of these one-of-a-kind masterpieces had just finished a commercial art unit and were discussing ways to advertise products in unusual ways through graphic art. This unit, combined with a previous unit on cartooning, lent itself to a hands-on, real-life project. After passing by the Walters muffler shop on many occasions, an idea began to form in my mind. I had often thought of how funny it would be to see painted faces on the many mufflers piled under the big Muffler Man Shop sign on the highway. Always one for a laugh, I had to restrain myself from stopping by with paintbrush in hand to make the daydream a reality.

After visiting with the shop owners, Kent Simpson and Gary Hathaway, they laughingly agreed to be part of the unusual assignment. They hauled more than one hundred old mufflers to the school on a trailer and delivered them to my artists. After students chose the perfect muffler, they did a rough draft of their muffler person. …

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