Brake for art at Roadkill Gallery in Pittsburgh
Attracting people to a brick-and-mortar art gallery can be a challenge, so Chelsea Schilling decided to take her show on the road.
Every few weeks, she rounds up about a dozen or so local creatives, rents a 20-foot U-Haul truck, parks it outside of an area business and invites folks inside.
More than 2,000 people have boarded Roadkill Gallery since it debuted July 5 at the Garfield Night Market.
Schilling, who co-founded .5 Gallery in Etna, was frustrated by Pittsburghers’ reluctance to cross bridges for the sake of art. The space at 407 1/2 Butler St., although tiny, was filled with interesting work that deserved attention. The 29-year-old decided to branch out on her own to spread the word.
Through a $1,000 grant from Awesome Pittsburgh, an organization that gives money to local residents with ideas to better the community, she was able to fire up the truck and bring paintings, photography and sculpture to the masses.
Artists each pay a $10 submission fee, which funds the truck rental. Schilling picks up the vehicle the morning of the event (her father, a UPS driver, gave her crash course on maneuvering the beast) and spends two hours transforming the ride into a museum.
Schilling outfits the truck with professional lighting and places canvas on the walls suitable for displaying (and selling) artists’ work. Due to size constraints, participants can feature a pair of two-dimensional pieces no larger than 2-feet by 2-feet. Sculpture dimensions must be sent and approved by Schilling, who is a sculptor and graduate of Temple University’s School of Art and Architecture.
Interested parties can apply for a space through the website. Artists who’ve hitched a ride with Roadkill Gallery include Kevin Mack, Ally Wolf, Josh Snider, Moira Richardson and Dante Lombardi.
Over the summer, Roadkill Gallery made pit stops at Taste of Lawrencevlle and Allentown’s Hilltop with the Lid Off Neighborhood Party. Some passers-by were wary about entering the box truck, thinking it was a roving taxidermy studio. (Schilling has yet to feature stuffed animals at Roadkill Gallery, but isn’t averse to the idea.)
Once they step inside, they are pleasantly surprised.
“I started a questionnaire to see how people perceive the gallery and art in general,” Schilling says. “Most don’t go to fine art galleries, so this breaks down that barrier.”
On Sept. 28 from 4 to 11 p.m.. she’ll tool around Braddock, making stops at UnSmoke Systems Artspace, the craft beer pub Brew Gentlemen and the restaurant Superior Motors, where guests can order a specialty cocktail called Tire Tracks.
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WE ARE VISITING BRADDOCK!! We will be collaborating with @brewgentlemen @unsmokesystems & @superiormotors15104 on Sept 28. More details to follow!! . . . . #roadkillgallery #artfarts #pittsburghart #braddockpa #pittsburgh #pittsburghevents #mobilegallery #mobileartgallery
Ultimately, Schilling wants purchase her own box truck, which would allow her to visit more places around Pittsburgh and beyond.
“Every year, Pittsburgh keeps getting more creative types. There are a lot of art galleries, little gems around the city, that I can definitely appreciate, but the art culture needs to come up more and that’s what I’m here to do,” she says. “I want to be able to go to all the neighborhoods around Pittsburgh and bring artwork to people who normally wouldn’t get a chance to see it.”