Art at Lake Ozark

Art at Lake Ozark

by Jennifer Slouha

My art booth at the June event.

Hot Summer Nights is the largest family-oriented award-winning car cruise in Missouri. The event is devoted to showcasing some of the most impressive hot rods, classic cruisers, muscle cars, vintage trucks, motorcycles, and even some custom vehicles. It aims to re-create the nostalgic ‘American Graffiti’ atmosphere in its unique location. Vehicles can stretch for over a mile down the length of the historic Bagnell Dam Strip. Hot Summer Nights draws crowds in the thousands and has been an award-winning event at Lake Ozark, Missouri since 2008. It is a five-part cruising series that is free to attend and is sponsored by the Bagnell Dam Strip Association. Each month has a different theme. May 11 was Here Comes Summer, June 8 was The Mother Road – Route 66 – Still Kickin’, July 13 will be Rods ‘N’ Rock “N’ Roll, August 10 will be Keep on Cruisin’, and September 7 will be Salute to Our Heroes – Military, Police, Firefighters and EMTs.

I contacted the Hot Summer Nights via phone in the spring of 2018 and asked if I could be a vendor with my artwork. I was immediately told that vendors were not allowed at this event but I explained that I specialized in automotive artwork and numerous pieces of my art, mainly colored pencil, have been published and won awards. I gave my website information and was told that it would be a week or two for the board to look over everything. Within a week I received a phone call letting me know that I could set up a booth to display my artwork and take commissions. I was ecstatic to be able to be a part of this! I had been going to this event regularly for several years to get reference photos for my artwork.

Looking down Bagnell Dam Strip.

The first event tested everyone’s nerves. As soon as we were parked to unload my booth items, we realized that we were dealing with thirty-plus mile per hour wind gusts. We ended up waiting about an hour and a half for the wind to die down enough so that we could set up the booth. I had to get creative attaching the artwork to the display system using both zip-ties and S hooks. It worked and I was able to display all of my artwork successfully. I was unable to put up my tent walls but that ended up working well too and people could see in my booth from every side. I worked on a colored pencil demonstration, a drawing of a Ford Galaxie. The drawing consisted of three varying degrees of completion. The left portion was finished, the middle had the base layers of colored pencil applied, and the right portion was just the graphite pencil line drawing. I wanted to show the basic steps involved in creating a colored pencil drawing in one piece and this worked. The only problem that I encountered with my colored pencil artwork was that most people walking by thought my artwork was framed photographs, not drawings. This gave me a good opportunity to start up conversations about my colored pencil drawings and explain what could be created with such a wonderfully versatile medium.

Working on the colored pencil demonstration in my art booth at the May event.

The event in June went much smoother. We had no high winds or green pollen covering everything and the attendance was amazing. I created new signs for my booth for this event so people would be aware that I had hand drawn artwork, not photographs. I had several inquiries about creating custom artwork. Most people that entered my booth were drawn to the colored pencil pieces and were surprised what could be achieved with the medium. I had brought along the demonstration drawing to work on again and was able to show the supplies that I used. There were also many surprised looks when people found out that a woman was creating the automotive artwork. I’ve always loved vehicles. When I was little my parents used to take me and my brother to car shows, car cruises, drag races, truck and tractor pulls, and dirt track races. I was always around different types of vehicles and was never told that a girl could not like them. I saw that as the same way I enjoyed jewelry and clothes. Cars also represent freedom to me. As a teenager, I could not wait to get my driver’s license so I could get out and explore the world and travel. It just seemed natural that my fascination with vehicles works its way into my artwork somehow.

About Jennifer:

Jennifer is a self-taught artist living in Holts Summit, Missouri.  She specializes in colored pencil, graphite pencil, and acrylic artwork.  She works in a wide variety of subject matter but really enjoys the technical aspect of creating automotive artwork. See more at

Leave your comment