When I first heard about Axle Contemporary, a mobile art gallery housed in the back of a retrofitted 1970 aluminum stepvan (formerly a Hostess Twinkie delivery truck), I knew this was Lady Blue’s soul mate. So when I was in Santa Fe last week, I begged for a meeting. Well, I emailed and they wrote right back – first sign of awesomeness. I gave a talk at photo-eye Gallery on Friday night about my Crusade, and since my bus still lives at the mechanic’s (and cruising it to Santa Fe for a weekend seemed a bit intense), Matthew Chase-Daniel and Jerry Wellman rolled up in their art truck to lend an air of mobile artiness.
They graciously let me ask them a hundred million questions and gave me a tour. First, let me just say these guys are the epitome of Crusade. They had an idea and went for it, citing a flat bed truck muse and celestial music as convincing indicators of their clarity of vision.
Matt and Jerry are both artists who live in Santa Fe, and they show their own work and other New Mexico artists’ in group and solo shows that rotate every month. They move the bus to different locations and are open six days per week. In the summer and spring they do themed group shows, which allow them to mix the work of both established and unknown artists. In the colder months they install glass across the back of the truck and present single installation pieces to be viewed from outside.
These guys work it, for the love of art. And community. They collaborate with several cause-based organizations and publish books too. They are committed to expanding all that art is and can be and to presenting it in an unintimidating setting, which they say attracts a more diverse audience.
They exude positive energy and good vibes, and their happy grins are infectious. When I asked them if Axle Contemporary was successful, they asked me, “How do you define success?”. I said, “How do you define success?”. They told me they are held in very high esteem in their community – that so many people appreciate all they are doing for art and Santa Fe – and that is the best measure of success.
I cannot tell you how many times I have thought about that since, and I hope that is the message I will carry with me as I take Lady Blue on the road.