Let art come to you. That’s the vision of POPP=D Art, a mobile art gallery started by 2015 Project Grantees Janet Creekmore, Melissa Mitchell and Ben Neal. Part gallery, part upcycling experiment, part placemaking project, POPP=D Art is a gallery space built inside a moving caravan. This team of three have given new life to a 1963 camper trailer, and they want to share that new energy with your neighborhood. We interviewed the team to learn more about their project and process.
Q: What brought the three of you together for this project?
Janet: Our activation through an art project on Short Vine brought us together initially. POPP=D ART was a pop up gallery in a vacant storefront for almost two years. Then Ben had inherited an old caravan trailer and we said, “Ah ha! Let’s take the gallery to the people and keep this going.”
Melissa: Roller derby, shared love of art, and prior art related projects.
Ben: We have always enjoyed working and playing together. With our combined talents and personalities, we feel like we could work together on anything and make it amazing.
Q: What stage are you at in your project? What are you currently working on?
J: I am ordering buttons, postcards, tee shirts and working on all the other merchandising parts of the project.
M: We can see the light at the end of the tunnel now! The caravan just got back from the paint shop and I just finished up the cushions and pillows. Now I'm in correspondence and organizing all of the artists that will be dropping off their artwork to be in the caravan.
B: I am finalizing the outside vinyl graphics for the caravan, getting new tires, and painting the frame.
Q: What is the story of this caravan? Where did it come from, and where will it go?
B: My sister Annie fell in love with this 1963 Rainbow Caravan a few years ago and decided to rescue it from rotting away by fixing it up. She and her husband Harry did a quick renovation and camped with it for a summer or two and just loved it. A few years later, Annie decided she didn’t have the time to restore it fully the way she wanted it and asked me if I would like to have it. Of course I said YES. It sat in my driveway for two years and I was about to give up on it as well when this idea of a mobile art gallery came to mind!
Q: Is there a certain audience you are trying to engage with during this project?
J: We want to engage with people in areas that do not have art galleries in their neighborhood or may not have had the opportunity to view art and purchase it before. The mini gallery will feature works that are small and affordable from local artists.
M: Our vision for the caravan is to break down social structures. The more people we can interact with, the more successful we'll be in achieving this vision. Mobility enables us to take diverse sets of art to diverse locations and engaging diverse groups of people.
B: We want to reach a diverse audience that is curious about art that would not go to a high end art gallery to see it. By presenting high art in such a friendly campy setting we feel that those that would unlikely have exposure to it would enjoy it more, become more aware and appreciate the art and it’s impact more throughout his/her lives.
Q: How will the public be able to interact with the gallery?
J: We have a campy style that makes [the gallery] approachable. The door will be open for folks to step inside. The original bench seat remains in the back end so a few people at a time can reflect and pretty much view everything at once. If someone finds a piece that makes them happy and they want to take it home, then they can purchase it on the spot.
Q: If you could bring one person (dead or alive) to visit your pop-up caravan, who would it be and why?
J: For me it would be Jean-Michel Basquiat. He was an outsider, urban artist and started out making small works of art on anything he could find.
M: Picasso. He was a trend setter and I think he would appreciate what we are doing.
B: I would bring my dad to see it. I know that he would be very excited to see how all of this came together. Growing up, my dad and I worked together upcycling and repurposing pretty much anything that we could get our hands on from home furnishings, vintage cars and
even properties. I know he would love this!
Q: Do you have any advice for future Project Grant applicants?
J: Use the Globe building space—it is awesome!
M: I agree with Ben and Janet...use the Globe space and PL staff.
B: Keep in close contact with the People’s Liberty staff. Come to them with any problems, ideas and especially epiphanies! There’s SO many useful resources and valuable input from the staff.