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Thursday, Dec. 11, 2003 02:20 pm

Hippie’s calendar salutes 40 years of Mustangs

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Everyone has his contradictions. Bob Waldmire, for example, is an unreconstructed hippie, as green as Ralph Nader. "Small is beautiful. Slow is beautiful. Old is beautiful," the itinerant artist intones. Let a hot Mustang drive by, though, and Waldmire's eyes light up.

It's a reflex that goes back 40 years. Before he embraced and helped define the hippie lifestyle, Waldmire drove a '65 Mustang fastback. As a self-marketed artist, though, he needed bigger quarters -- first a VW conversion van, then a school bus. But he always loved his first vehicle best and the reflex never left. Five years ago, love swept away the occasional pang of environmental guilt and he bought his second '65 fastback. He still spends most of his time in the van or bus, but this new baby has inspired Waldmire's most ambitious artistic project yet. It's a 2004 calendar of Mustangs on Route 66 to celebrate the original pony car's 40th anniversary.

Until now, Waldmire worked mostly in pen and ink. But with this calendar he has mastered the watercolor medium. Each month shows at least one Mustang parked in front of a Route 66 landmark. The shadowing and dimension on each model are elegant and precise. The month below is encased in a shield instead of a rectangle. Individual days call attention to meteor showers, Route 66 events, or important dates in the automobile era. And, as with most of his work, Waldmire has hand lettered copious amounts of history and detail.

The new calendar sells for $12. It is available at the Cozy Dog Drive In, 2935 S. 6th St., and Mr. Lincoln's Campground RV Center, 3045 Stanton St.

The only problem with the calendar: It's too gorgeous to take off your wall after just one year.

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