Gallery owner to bring artwork into community

A 1999 former FedEx 18-foot aluminum box truck is turning one gallery owner’s vision of sharing art outside the usual places into reality. More

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Gallery owner to bring artwork into community

WHEELS IN MOTION: Bêrge Ara Zobian, right, owner of Gallery Z, inside the ArtMobile truck, which will feature art from at least 120 artists.
Posted 11/14/11

A 1999 former FedEx 18-foot aluminum box truck is turning one gallery owner’s vision of sharing art outside the usual places into reality.

Gallery Z owner Bérge Ara Zobian is turning the truck into a mobile art gallery. Thanks to a successful fundraising effort, ArtMobile will feature a hardwood floor, hanging materials, surround sound, digital monitors, track lighting and art from at least 120 artists. The all-original art will be sold from $50 to $18,000, he said.

Zobian has owned Gallery Z, on Atwells Ave in Providence, since 2001. But now he wants to take art out to the community to make it accessible to everyone.

The outside of the truck is being painted to feature Gallery Z’s ArtMobile logo. It’ll serve festivals, private, public and corporate events.

“There are recent fads and fashion with trucks out there for baking and cooking and this is not the purpose I’m doing this,” Zobian said. “There are a number of people out there who are collectors and people want to see” art.

Zobian got the idea from his experience as a curator, lending paintings and other artwork to restaurants and other small-businesses in Rhode Island.

Cristina M. Di Chiera, director of individual artists programs for R.I. State Council on the Arts, said that although Rhode Island has an abundance of artists, “there are not a lot of galleries in the state showing local contemporary art.

“Gallery Z is among the most long-lived and successful, so it’s wonderful that [Zobian] is coming up with creative ways to expand his reach,” she said.

Zobian estimates the entire cost to be about $15,000. He bought the truck for $6,200 and had a mechanical shop make sure it was safe and sound.

He expects the project to be complete by the end of this month. Donations through Nov. 9 to an online funding program called Kickstarter had helped raise $4,204 for the project.

The plan now is to have the ArtMobile in the community by March 2012. An unveiling ceremony will be scheduled between Thanksgiving and Christmas, Zobian said.

Kickstarter is a large funding platform for creative projects around the world. Every week, tens of thousands of people pledge millions of dollars to projects from the worlds of music, film, art, technology, design, food, publishing and other creative fields.

Project creators keep 100 percent ownership and control over their work. Instead, they offer products and experiences to donors that are unique to each project.

Donors to the ArtMobile will receive a range of various specials depending on how much they donate. The largest donors, $500 or more, will get a personalized ‘thank you’ email from the gallery director, added to the mailing list for this project to receive status updates of the ArtMobile and Gallery Z announcements. Their names, unless they wish to remain anonymous, will be featured on the Gallery Z website as an official ArtMobile sponsor and they will get an exclusive invitation to the unveiling. Among other things, they also can have the ArtMobile drive to a private party or event up to 25 miles from the location of Gallery Z or choose a painting from the gallery up to a $200 value.

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