Chicago has a tradition of showing art where you'd least expect it. Among the spots currently operating, there's the Bike Room, located in a Rogers Park apartment building's former bike locker; the Suburban, a gallery in an Oak Park garage; and the Motor Gallery, which recently began sharing an address with a U-Haul rental outpost in the South Loop.
Now, hitting the road with the concept of the nontraditional gallery, Jesse Malmed and Raven Falquez Munsell have created Trunk Show, a "mobile exhibition space" that centers around the couple's car. Each month an artist is invited to create a limited-edition bumper sticker ("a small canvas," as Malmed calls it) that's added ceremonially to the rear of a forest-green 1999 Ford Taurus at an opening event.
Malmed and Munsell launched the project last year while in graduate school. Both had curatorial experience and the desire to mount exhibits, but they didn't want to transform their home into yet another apartment gallery, and the gallery on wheels concept gave the couple new use for an infrequently driven car.
New-media artist and SAIC instructor Eric Fleischauer was commissioned in September 2013 to create the project's first sticker, which featured the satirical phrase "Punk Is Dad." That set the tone for stickers that have included Calvin of Calvin & Hobbes urinating on the Dark Side of the Moon prism logo (Jodie Mack), and humorous one-liners like "Honk If You Love Sinkholes" (Deborah Stratman) and "No Brakes" (Brandon Alvendia).
The loose format allows Malmed and Munsell to get creative with the openings, which have been held in parking garages at Home Depot and Whole Foods. The pair collaborate with the artists on the choices of parking location, the food, and the music, all of which relate in some way to the work. For instance, multimedia artist Stephanie Barber's Trunk Show opening, part of the Baltimore Alternative Art Fair, was set up to mimic a used-car lot and office. In September, Roots & Culture director and LTHForum.com regular Eric May made the most of Trunk Show's mobility, hosting a food tour to barbecue joints and other seating-free restaurants that offered the opportunity to "dine al trunko"—eat off the trunk (or hood) of the car.
This month's show, on November 28, features Adds Donna artist collective member and SAIC alum Michael Milano, though the content of his bumper sticker is still a surprise. Set to take place in the Albany Park garage owned by a Trunk Show friend, the Black Friday event will double as a garage sale: Milano's sticker, printed in an edition of a hundred, will be available for purchase for $6 each alongside "a wide range of artist-owned bric-a-brac." And the proceeds of the sale will go toward a worthy cause: replacing the Taurus's broken tape player.