I’m an artist and a curator. I work at a small museum in the desert of Southern California. I like my job and I get to put together cool art exhibits and events, but I also yearn to operate my own art space. I’m young, I have to work, I have debt from college, and I don’t have money to move wherever I want or to purchase or rent a storefront. I attempted to get property owners to donate the use of their unused space, but couldn’t get anywhere, and I often have trouble convincing people from San Diego or Los Angeles to come to my art events. So this year, in an attempt to gain mobility (I’m a SoCal bicyclist who never owned a vehicle) and to open my own flexible alternative space, I purchased a 25-year-old Volkswagen Vanagon and have been hosting art events out of it. I call it the Vanagallery.
During a residency at University of Pennsylvania’s 40th St. Studios a few years ago, I created a giant quilt-map of all the food trucks in my neighborhood and I led walking and eating tours of the trucks and published zines about them. I love to eat. And I love the social aspect of eating in public. When I was in high school and college (and after college too) and I was dreaming of starting my own museum or art gallery, I was working at various “Pizza Parlors” to pay the bills, making sandwiches and salads and tossing or delivering pizza. (I even tried working in a food truck for a little while!). While I enjoy eating, I’m only a “so-so” cook. The exception is pizza. I am a pizza expert. I put on squash, tuna, spinach, beans, sriracha sauce, anchovies, soy “meat,” sauce and olive oil over a whole wheat crust. My family and friends tell me I should open a pizza place but I don’t want to open a restaurant. I couldn’t afford it and I don’t want to work all the time in a hot kitchen! A pizza place/art space? Heaven! But no need to wait for the perfect conditions: I have started up the Painting and Pizza Delivery from the comfort of my car. I commission artist friends to paint, collage or otherwise design a pizza box of artwork. On the night of delivery, people call up and order artwork and they get a custom pizza too. Selling art is hard, but everyone’s used to shelling out dough for some pizza. I pay my expenses and have a little pocket change left over.
I really like flea markets and garage sales. I’m a packrat. But I don’t use any of the stuff. And it’s gotten bad enough that I can’t move around my art studio for want of floors, counters, tables covered in stuff. I recently hosted a “Recession Special” flea market to get rid of keyboards, tape players, stereos, cd’s, books, tools, etc that I pick up at garage sales and look good but I’ll never quite get around to using them. I’ve been burned from Craigslist and ebay enough that I preferred to just give stuff away and make it a fun event. I’m hyperglycemic and every art event I’ve attended has wine or other alcohol so I served unsweetened iced tea and fruit from the farmer’s market and asked my friends to DJ some dubstep. I think it cost me $8 to hold this event.
I guess it’s obvious that I like to combine food with art. And music. I’d love to be paid to put together art events and exhibits at different museums, galleries, schools, libraries around the world. I think I can do it. But I want to start now, so I’ve got my Vanagallery. I’m working on building a zine library, hosting film screenings, curated exhibits, and ice cream and art vending from the side of the van. And if I lose my job to the recession, it’s got a bed in it and a table, and I’m ready to hit the road.