On Art Galleries in Trucks

Since the rise of the food truck scene, the trend for mobile (fill-in-the-blank) has been going (presumably) more mainstream. The New York Times has a great article on a recent trend of galleries in trucks.

While statistics on mobile galleries are hard to come by, social media shows the trend catching on in Los Angeles; Seattle; Santa Fe, N.M.; Tampa Bay, Fla.; Chicago; and even Alberta, where a ’60s teardrop-red trailer presents works from a changing lineup of local artists. Pinterest boards show a range of designs on pages dedicated to mobile galleries, and Twitter is full of people advertising their whereabouts with hashtags such as #keeptrucking. Ann Fensterstock, a lecturer on contemporary art and the author of “Art on the Block,” a history of New York art galleries, said these galleries are “part of the zeitgeist of this moment in art creating.” Critics, however, point out that artists may not be taken seriously without gallery backing. This is hardly the first time American artists have gone mobile. Before opening a gallery in the East Village, Gracie Mansion staged her “Limo Show” in 1981 in a rented limousine, parked in SoHo, where she invited passers-by into the back seat for Champagne while she pitched her friends’ art.

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If one doesn’t care for the commercialization (selling) of art, this movement makes sense:

Ms. Fensterstock agreed that the truck model has limitations. “It doesn’t make for return business; it doesn’t make for contemplation of the art by spending time with it; it doesn’t make for building a strong commercial place out of which the art gets sold,” she said.

The Atlanta Food Truck Scene

As part of their 2012 Fall Dining Guide, the Atlanta-Journal Constitution rounds up the dozen best food trucks in and around Atlanta. A lot of these names were new to me:

Grilldabeast

The owners of this relative newcomer to the truck scene got their start catering on movie sets, and then decided to bring their food to the rest of us with their truck, Grilldabeast. Dishes like the smoked-then-fried wings with mango Thai chili glaze or the panko-fried avocado with eel sauce are not to be missed. Regularly seen for dinner Thursdays and lunch Saturdays at the Atlanta Food Truck Park. 404-719-6563

Happy Belly Curbside Kitchen

With a strong focus on local ingredients, this “farm-to-street” truck is a great spot for distinctive sandwiches, salads, and pasta. Powering the kitchen is an on-board Big Green Egg, giving each of their dishes that fresh-from-the-backyard smokiness you can only get on a charcoal grill. Regularly seen at dinner Tuesdays at the Taylor Brawner Park in Smyrna (3180 Atlanta Road, 6-9 p.m.), lunch Thursdays at 12th and Peachtree streets in Midtown (11 a.m.-2 p.m.) and lunch Sundays at the Atlanta Food Truck Park. 404-719-3257

Honeysuckle Gelato

Combining his Southern roots with his training at the hands of legendary gelato maker Jon Snyder, Jackson Smith has crafted a dessert truck definitely worth checking out. With more than 100 flavors to date, like ginger molasses or mint julep, the prolific team at Honeysuckle constantly changes up the menu, but many of its staple flavors can also be found at restaurants like La Tavola, Atlanta Fish Market and STG Trattoria. Regularly seen for dinner Thursdays and Fridays at the Atlanta Food Truck Park. 404-228-7825

Ibiza Bites

This truck serves “SoLa” cuisine, a blend of Latin American and Southern food that shines through best with dishes like Lola’s coconut fried chicken, served with a mango chili glaze atop a bed of fresh jicama, pineapple, mango and basil slaw. Regularly seen for dinner Tuesdays at Taylor Brawner Park in Smyrna and Fridays for lunch at Atlantic Station in Midtown (17 1/2 St., 11 a.m.-2 p.m.). 404-857-9308

Mix’D UP

The mobile truck of the Cuzine Chef catering company, Mix’D UP is a rock-‘n’-roll inspired truck that serves up some pretty serious burgers. Go for the Rockin’ Hero, a lamb burger topped with tzatziki sauce, spinach, tomatoes and feta served on a ciabatta bun, or the super-sloppy open-faced Texan, an Angus patty topped with bacon, cheddar, pulled pork and slaw. Regularly seen for dinner on Tuesdays at Taylor Brawner Park in Smyrna, dinner on Wednesdays in Virginia Highlands in Atlanta (841 N. Highland Ave., 6-9 p.m.) and lunch on Thursdays at 12th and Peachtree streets in Midtown. 404-822-6758

I wish more of these trucks stationed near Buckhead rather than Midtown/Downtown.

On Food Trucks and Twitter

Nick Bilton, writing for The New York Times, comes up with a great metaphor for Twitter:

In 2006, a small restaurant called Twitter opened for business.

This wasn’t your typical restaurant. Twitter didn’t have its own chefs creating food. Instead, it invited anyone from the public to come into its kitchens and freely use the stove, pots, pans, plates and knifes. There, they could make little scrumptious bites for anyone to consume.

Soon, word spread, and Twitter was bustling with people making their own food. Others, hearing about the wonderful bite-size snacks being made at Twitter, came in to consume them.

Twitter grew so quickly that it started to have major problems dealing with all the customers. Twitter’s lights would often go out. Plates and silverware were often dirty. There was never enough room for people to sit. Sometimes, unable to handle all the customers, Twitter would just be closed for hours at a time.

So Twitter came up with a plan: it told people that they could take the food being made in Twitter’s kitchen and give it away by creating new places for people to eat. Twitter called this the application protocol interface, or A.P.I.

Soon there were food trucks, delivery services, meal messengers, all taking what was coming out of Twitter with its A.P.I. and redistributing it to people all around the world. Some of these distributors gave away Twitter’s stuff free. Others who had hired much prettier and reliable waitresses and delivery boys than Twitter started charging. As things grew, some decided to take hefty sums of money from investors to build specific businesses around Twitter.

Everyone seemed happy.

But now those food trucks are facing a problem: Twitter wants to cut them off. Read the conclusion to Nick’s piece here.

Très Brooklyn in Paris

The New York Times profiles a fascinating trend of the food truck invading Paris, France. Whereas the general notion is that American food consists of large portions and greasy food, in Paris:

…American food is suddenly being seen as more than just restauration rapide. Among young Parisians, there is currently no greater praise for cuisine than “très Brooklyn,” a term that signifies a particularly cool combination of informality, creativity and quality.

All three of those traits come together in the American food trucks that have just opened here, including Cantine California, which sells tacos stuffed with organic meat (still a rarity in France), and a hugely popular burger truck called Le Camion Qui Fume (The Smoking Truck), owned by Kristin Frederick, a California native who graduated from culinary school here.

Kristin Frederick, the owner, received pushback before opening:

“I got every kind of push-back… People said: ‘The French will never eat on the street. The French will never eat with their hands. They will never pay good money for food from a truck.’ ” (Her burger with fries costs 10 euros, about $13.)

So how well is the truck doing?

Since the truck’s opening day, Ms. Frederick said, it has sold every last burger on every shift. And it has received the kind of publicity most chefs can only dream about. Its first weeks were covered obsessively on the many English-language blogs — Hip ParisDavid LebovitzParis by Mouth and Lost in Cheeseland — that chronicle the food scene here.

Read the entire story here.