our local art community, of the various events and gatherings that
have happened in recent years, its widely agreed upon that the 337 Project was one of
the most inspiring and eye-opening attractions to have come along in
Salt Lake City. It helped revitalize part downtown to a
degree, brought attention to East Broadway, put many of the artists in
the local and (briefly) national spotlights, and has spun off into
several charity and city supported galleries. Not bad for a rickety
70's building on a poor foundation. And you get to see one of those inventive
galleries across the Wasatch Front quite often... mainly because its on wheels.
The 337 Truck continues to carry on the spirit of the old building, both as a tribute to the artists work as well as a roving display of newer workings. The design has change a few times inside and out, but the message of artistic inspiration remains the same. I got a chance to chat with longtime friend of the blog and 337 creator Adam Price, shortly before he was named the brand new Executive Director of the Salt Lake Art Center. Talking about the truck and what its accomplished as well as other 337 works both past and on the way. Along with pictures of the truck in its prior and current condition.
Adam Price (with wife Dessi)
Gavin: Hey Adam! First off, what have you been up to lately?
Adam: Well, we re-launched the Art Truck this month featuring new original artwork by Utah artists Pam Bowman and Trent Call.
Gavin: For those who don't know about it, what is the 337 Art Truck?
Adam: The Art Truck is a 40' long vegetable truck that now serves as a mobile gallery for original installation art and paintings by local and national artists. The Art Truck visits schools, community institutions and, sometimes, just shows up in unexpected places.
Gavin: How did the idea for it come about and what was the process like in getting things set up before you started having it turned into a project?
Adam: The original idea for the Art Truck came from a conversation with local artist Jann Haworth. Jann suggested that the 337 Project should consider buying an ice cream truck and selling "art on a stick" to the kids who came to see it. I still hope to realize that vision someday. Anyway, that got me thinking about art on wheels, which eventually led me to the Art Truck. After that, it was just a matter of finding a truck that we could afford that also still had the ability to move. Not an easy task, as it turns out.
Gavin: When did you first start looking for artists to design the truck, and how did you decide on the first set?
Adam: The first set of artists, Dan Steinhilber and Maggie Michael, came to us in November 2008 by a happy coincidence. Jeff Lambson at the BYU Museum Of Art had arranged for Dan and Maggie to fly here from Washington D.C. to create a series of installations for what ultimately became the really terrific “Dan Steinhilber” exhibition. Since Dan and Maggie were already going to be here, Jeff suggested that we commission them to create original work for the Art Truck. Once I saw some images of their work, I was sold.
Gavin: Did they tell you what they were going to do with it before hand, or did you simply let them do what they wanted and became surprised later?
Adam: Dan and Maggie pretty much had carte blanche to create whatever they wanted. Because it was the first time that anyone had created work for the Art Truck, I really had no meaningful opinion about the kinds of things that might be successful or unsuccessful in that space. So at the end of the day, Dan and Maggie's creations were pretty much a surprise.
Gavin: What was your initial reaction to the first incarnation of the truck and the artwork done for it?
Adam: On the whole, I think their work was very successful. We had about 10,000 visitors to the Art Truck while their work was on display and the overwhelming response was very positive. I did have a little bit of concern about how children would respond to Maggie's abstract expressionist style, but in the end the kids loved it. It turns out that children will engage with that kind of a painting at the level of color, shape, and gesture, without the same kind of concern an adult might express about the absence of representational images.
Gavin: When did you decide to change the look, and how did you decide on the artists who would take over the new design?
Adam: Like all 337 Project endeavors, we always planned for the Art Truck art to be temporary. With the advent of a new school year, it seemed like a good time to replace Dan and Maggie's work with something different. This time around, we asked local artists to submit proposals, which were then juried by a group of curators and art collectors, including Jill Dawsey from the UMFA and Jeff Lambson from BYU MOA.
Gavin: Tell us about the current look to the truck both inside and out.
Adam: The outside is two fantastic new paintings by Trent Call; although the work contains some of Trent's familiar themes, the sheer size of the space forced Trent to create his art in new and unexpected ways. Pam Bowman's marvelous installation is based on a book that she used to read her children when they were young, entitled "A Big Ball Of String." Pam's installation is interactive and is sure to be a real crowd-pleaser.
Gavin: What's the plan so far with the new truck and where you plan to show it off this time around?
Adam: Area schools from Salt Lake to Provo are high on our list of destinations again this year. The school teachers really enjoy the opportunity to have a field trip come directly to their classrooms free of charge, and the students love the opportunity to get out of class for a while and go explore a brightly painted truck! We'll also be taking the Art Truck to a variety of art-related events, like the recent Local Festival Of The Arts and Gallery Stroll openings.
Gavin: In other projects, you've been doing work with the Neighborhood House the past year. How have those events been going for you?
Adam: I loved our two events at Neighborhood House, both of which involved the creation of paintings on a series of garage doors in their parking lot. The first iteration was juried and resulted in some fantastic art, but didn't quite have the energy level I was looking for. So the second time around we decided to do "Face Off at the Urban Gallery," a timed competition in which the artists had a day and a half to create a masterpiece while the community watched. Chuck Landvatter and Dave Doman won both the jury and audience awards for that event, each of which came with a $1000 prize.
Gavin: Are there any plans for a new event over there?
Adam: I'm sure there will be something, but I have no idea what it will be.
Gavin: Something else going on at the old location is the “337 Memorial Wall” that's been updated frequently ever since the building came down. How are those planned out, and what's your take on the artwork that's been produced from that?
Adam: The "Memorial Wall" is really just something that Dessi and I are making available to the local graff community. We have very little involvement on how it is used or when new works of art go up. Some of the 337 Project artists just seem to show up every so often and create a new piece for that wall, which seems like a fitting end to that whole experience.
Gavin: Since the original 337 Project you've gotten a lot of recognition and awards around the state. How do you take that new found success?
Adam: Mostly I feel grateful to have been involved with a group of artists who consistently create such award-winning work. It also confirms for me that the response to the original 337 Project building was not a fluke, and that there really is a very strong demand in this community for opportunities to encounter contemporary art in nontraditional contexts.
Gavin: What other projects have you gotten planned down the road?
Adam: Starting in approximately February 2010, we will be launching a temporary 18 Hole, artist-designed miniature golf course that I'm very excited about. Although it is fundamentally an exhibition of contemporary art, the course will be fully playable and unlike anything Utah has ever seen before.
Gavin: Aside the obvious, is there anything you'd like to plug or promote?
Adam: 337 Project Miniature Golf! You can be sure to get all of the latest news about our mini-golf event, the Art Truck, and other 337 Project undertakings by subscribing to our free e-newsletter on our website, and by following us on Twitter.