The thing about art is that it can be encountered in various ways. The thing about the 337 Project Art Truck is that this encounter will either drive past you or stop for you.
The 337 Project truck is a sort of offspring of the original 337 Project. In 2006, a building in Salt Lake scheduled for demolition was made available to over 150 local artists in order to transform the vacant building into a work of art before it was torn down, according to Adam Price, founder and executive director of the 337 Project.
“During the six days that the building was open to the public, more than 10,000 visitors walked through, many waiting in line for four hours just to get in,” Price said. “The 337 Project continues to this day to create the kind of community-based art that was at the heart of the original building.”
The former vegetable truck started travelling around in December of 2008 with an installation by Washington D.C. artist Dan Steinhilber, and changes approximately every year. The current truck features installations by Utah Valley artist Pam Bowman, with the outside created by Salt Lake artist Trent Call.
For the most part, these two pieces have been brought to schools, festivals and more all along the Wasatch Front by Davey Davis, the official truck driver and docent of the 337 Project truck. Davis, a documentary filmmaker, has been driving since January of this year.
“It’s a great hybrid job between art teacher, truck driver and magic school bus driver,” Davis said of his involvement with the project. “I become an impromptu art teacher describing the composition of Trent’s piece or Pam Bowman’s installation.”
Pam Bowman’s piece offers a unique interactive art experience for the people it is brought to in that it basically allows for those interested to add to the piece.
“It allows the art piece to be a two way conversation rather than something like a gallery,” Davis said. “There’s a lot more agency for the viewer. Furthermore, they can contribute to the art piece itself. That small interaction adds up to something quite big. It alters the experience for the next people who come through. ”
When observers first go inside to see the installation art, they are given a paper tag, some string, and a question: What would you do with a giant ball of string? So far, thousands of people – including the people that work closely with the Art Truck – have tried to answer this question in very unique ways and tied their answers to the walls and ceiling of the inside.
Some interesting postings include: “Make a cube of string” and “In the words of captain Jack Sparrow, ‘I’d rope a couple of sea turtles and lash them together to ride them back to shore.’ ” Other people have used drawing to get across the message in a different way. Hundreds of these little tags, with varied artistic approaches, have drawings of the giant ball of string in action.
This year’s Art Truck has been to the Arts in the Park at Orem Summer Fest, the Utah Arts Festival and many elementary schools in an effort to help people get educated and add to the pieces.
“The 337 Project in general and the truck specifically is fun for me because it makes use of the things we already have in front of us in some creative way to make to make crazy interactive art,” Davis said. “ I hope that really inspires people because if we can take a broken down vegetable truck and turn it into an amazing work of art, anything is possible. “
The truck only has a few more scheduled appearances before it gets a new look with new artists at the end of the summer. It will be in Utah Valley for Provo’s Freedom Days festival on July 5. For more information about the truck’s upcoming appearances and other projects from 337, visit the 337 Project blog at http://337project.blogspot.com.