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People's Liberty project grantee, POPPED ART

Janet Creekmore, Ben Jason Nel and Melissa Mitchell with their vintage camping trailer before it became a mobile art gallery.

POPPED ART after its overhaul.


POPPED ART mobile gallery is on a mission to “increase community interaction using the power of art within public spaces in a unique and vibrant way.” In early 2016, local artists Janet Creekmore, Ben Jason Neal and Melissa Mitchell won a $10,000 People’s Liberty grant to make that vision a reality.

Back in 2013, the trio was running a stationary version of POPPED out of a vacant space on Short Vine in Corryville. According to Creekmore, before POPPED started, that area of Corryville “was a ghost town,” lined with about a dozen vacant buildings. But after creating POPPED, foot traffic to the area increased as people came for openings and events.

Creekmore explained that the vibrancy the popup gallery brought to the area helped to build a sense of community, increase safety on the street, and drive economic development.

The gallery developed a following, but could no longer stay in the same building. “We had all this momentum,” Creekmore said, so they decided to apply for a People’s Liberty grant to take the gallery on the road.

The team converted an original 1963 rainbow camper that had been sitting unused in Neal’s driveway into a mobile art gallery. Mitchell, who has a background in art curation, filled the converted camper with consigned local art from about 30 artists.

According to Creekmore, the gallery highlights “outsider art, art from self-taught artists and more up-and-coming artists.” The majority of the pieces for sale are two-dimensional, such as paintings and drawings, but they also have paper sculptures and jewelry.

“There’s an approachability to our little venue,” Creekmore said. “Like our T-shirts say: it doesn’t have to be in a museum to be art.”

Through making a friendly, engaging space, POPPED seeks to expose local artists and bring artwork to people who haven’t experienced it in this way.

During summer 2016, POPPED appeared at a variety of local events in seven different Cincinnati neighborhoods, including the City Flea, Art Off Pike and the Mini Maker Faire. It also went out on “rogue stops”; the gallery appeared unannounced in a local neighborhood to provide an unexpected opportunity for people to engage with art.

Though the 2016 season has largely concluded, the POPPED team is working on plans to continue in the years to come.

“It’s been so well-received, it seems like it needs to evolve into something,” Creekmore said. “We’ll decide over the next few months exactly what shape it will take.”

Those interested in partnering or seeing if POPPED is available to come out to a specific event are encouraged to reach out. “We will entertain any conversation,” Creekmore said. “We want to continue it, but we need strong community partnerships and financial partnerships, which is what we’re looking for right now.”

To stay up-to-date on all things POPPED, visit its website or follow them on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

Twice per year, eight grantees are chosen per grant cycle to prototype solutions to civic challenges. Project grantees are supported with $10,000, a launch event and access to People’s Liberty’s workplace and mentorship. Stay tuned to Soapbox for profiles of this year's 15 other grantees.
 

Read more articles by Kamal Kimball.

Kamal Kimball is a freelance writer and co-founder of Ampersand Creative Services.
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