Nearly 500 unique and colorful vehicles lined the downtown streets of Victoria last week for Classic Car Night, but there was one that particularly caught the eye of 4-year-old Stella Van De Ruijtenbeek.

It was pretty understandable.

After all, Stella, dressed from head to toe in pink, along with pink sunglasses, favored a bright pink Thunderbird.

“I liked that one,” she said, adding that a nearby truck “looked nice. I like the car show.”

While an estimated 3,000 people used the near-perfect night to view cars and sample food and beverages along the streets, there were at least two others in the crowd who were keeping their eyes on the cars for a different reason.

Painting.

Carl Bretzke and Judith Anderson, both members of the Outdoor Painters of Minnesota, set up their easels and paints to try and capture the beauty of the cars and night on canvas.

“A friend asked me to do it,” said Bretzke, of Minneapolis, referring to fellow artist Deb Zeller of Victoria. “This is the kind of thing we do for fun.”

Bretzke is quite experienced making paintings of cars.

“Cars are hard for lots of people to do,” he said, adding: “You have to be precise, just like a portrait, otherwise people will know that it’s wrong. They might not know exactly what’s wrong, they just know.”

The key for the Thunderbird that Bretzke was painting was “catching the light before it changes. Parts now are in the light, but will be in the dark in 30 minutes.”

Anderson, of St. Louis Park, said it was her first attempt painting at a car show.

“I enjoy painting outdoors,” she said, just before groups started to gather around her easel to watch. “I love this. I have only been to one other car show, but never to paint. I am astounded by the volume.”

Anderson selected a bright yellow 1932 Ford roadster for the object of her painting.

“I like the shapes of it and the car is beautiful,” she said. “It’s more of how the light falls on it, with the shadows and all. It has such interesting shapes.”

Sherry Noonan of Cologne was an interested observer of Anderson’s work, especially since Noonan drove that Roadster to the show.

“My dad never let us drive it when he was alive,” Noonan said, referring to Don White. “Now, I’m the first kid out of six girls who’s been taking it to the shows.”

Noonan and her mother, Mary White, watched as Anderson quickly outlined the car on canvas and started filling in colors.

“She is unbelievably talented,” Noonan said.

Mitch Peterson, a city business owner and co-chair of Discover Victoria Classic Car Night, says the show “is a huge event for the community. We just want to get people into the downtown area to see all the things that are here.”

The car show, which coincides with a concert in the park, is put on by the Victoria Business Association.

“It’s so great to see so many people here,” he added. “We want Victoria to be a destination place, and to see that we have a very walkable downtown area.”

Community Editor

Mark Olson, the Chaska and Chanhassen community editor who has worked in Carver County for 20 years, makes any excuse to write about local history. In his spare time, Mark enjoys perusing old books, watching blockbusters and taking Midwest road trips.

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