On July 15, 35 local artists showcased their artwork at the 11th Artruck gallery. Hundreds of neighbors, friends and art lovers came in and out of two rented moving trucks to peruse the art that hung on the walls inside
“I knew Evanston had a strong reputation of show-casing art, but I didn’t see that much,” said Julie Cowan, who thought of the idea for Artruck and organized the event. “I’ve never had gallery representation and started considering creating my own outlet for representation. After considering possible containers to display art in, the most logical iteration was using a truck as the container.”
The idea also stemmed from Ms. Cowan’s desire for a space to show art non-commercially to simply ignite community conversations about art. She could not afford to rent a space, but thought of the idea to create temporary space on the street. She rented two moving trucks and parked them in front of her house, hanging the artwork inside. Ms. Cowan’s husband, Neil Good, had the idea to string lights inside the walls of the trucks.
“I think this time we had the highest turn out and people stayed much later,” Ms. Cowan said. “Luckily, we had nice weather this time.”
She added that the works on display were created by a combination of experienced artists and recreational artists. In selecting pieces to show, Ms. Cowan tries to choose with inclusion in mind, rather than exclusion. While she has a list of local artists that she contacts, she receives many Artruck submissions through word of mouth.
Over time, Artruck has not changed very much. As a digital designer at Northwestern University, an artist herself, and a wife and mother, keeping the event as simple as possible was very important to her. Additionally, the event is completely free. “We want to keep this event unique and open,” she said. “We don’t want it to be commercialized.”
In addition to art, guests brought food to share and indulged in an Artruck staple: Ms. Cowan’s neighbor, David Bond’s delicious bread. Mr. Bond generously baked roughly 600 cookies and 50 bread loaves, among them, Ms. Cowan said is “the greatest focaccia bread ever.” Her friends and neighbors helped her prepare the event as well. Her friend Bill Friedman strung lights throughout the truck and Kevin Boyer hung the cloth poster that reads “Artruck.” Many others stayed to help clean up after the event.
In trying to weave art into community conversations, Ms. Cowan noticed an air of positivity throughout the night. “I went to lunch with a friend a few days before Artruck, and she was very blue about the current political climate. When I saw her at Artruck, she, just like everyone else, had a huge smile on her face,” said Ms. Cowan. “It’s a couple of hours where you get to feel good with your community. Not a single person was talking about politics.”