When Hannah Flegelman was the “new girl” at my high school, I so desperately wanted to be her friend. She exuded a warmth that was contagious; I did everything from dream up play-dates to trying to persuade her to join my volleyball team in order to hang out with her more. She was a person that everyone, not just me, wanted to be around. Nearly ten years later, I’m happy to learn that Hannah still attracts such a following.
A year ago I came upon Hannah’s name and face while flipping through Nylon magazine. After I finished reading the article and the initial, “Oh, I know her!!” excitement settled down, I booted up my computer and went to work scouring the Internet for Art Cart NYCTM: the newest sensation on wheels.
Hannah founded Art Cart NYCTM in 2009. To put it simply, Art Cart is a mobile art gallery. But really, it is so much more. The idea of Art Cart was borne in the time of the recession. “In August 2009, all I kept reading about was the country’s economic difficulties, and what entrepreneurs were doing to push forward,” says Flegelman. “I started to notice, specifically in New York City and Los Angeles, that people in the arts were setting up pop-up galleries or exhibitions in empty storefronts because they could no longer afford a permanent space.” Around this time, the national food truck craze began. Food carts were “developing beyond the typical street [carts] you see on Broadway [in NYC]” into sophisticated gourmet restaurants on wheels. “I thought to myself, how great would it be if instead of a food cart, we had an art cart that could gather a following and exhibit art in a similar fashion as the way in which these trucks serve up their fares?” Thus, Art Cart came into being.
“Art is important not only because it is very personal, but it also represents the collective sentiment of a place or group of people at a point in time. Art survives us, and speaks for us—it shows us what we value, what we fear or loathe, and what we envision for the future.”
Since its inception, Art Cart has been presenting artists with the challenge of creating an exhibition that fits within the capacities of a traveling truck. Flegelman seeks out artists that are “young or emerging, promising, and forward thinking.” The native New Yorker will then work with those artists to refine and realize a mobile exhibition. “It’s a whirlwind experience!” says Hannah. As well as promoting young artists, Art Cart also hopes to reach a young audience. Flegelman wants to reach out to those who may be “intimidated by steep museum entry prices […and] bring approachable, but challenging and exciting art that gathers people together.”
Having already participated in three mobile festivals (including the Festival of Ideas founded by the New Museum), Hannah recently took reign and organized the Truck Yeah festival. Though I experienced it happening virtually through the many posts put up by my former classmates on Facebook, the real Truck Yeah happened October 2nd in Brooklyn. The event included Art Cart as well as food and drink carts, mobile DJs and a fashion truck. The festival was an opportunity “for all creators using mobile venues to come together and build a new landscape or social environment within the city.” Clicking my way through it online, I saw a sunny New York afternoon, shrouded in dancing, eating and laughter, and Hannah can be in the middle of it all, smiling and surrounded by peers. Art Cart NYCTM has clearly been a success.
Does art have the ability to change lives? “Yes,” says Hannah, “it changed mine.”
Hannah hopes to bring Art Cart NYCTM, as well as Truck Yeah, to other cities, so help her start the mobile art revolution by following Art Cart NYCTM on Twitter!