Unpacked: Our Gallery In A Truck

Unpacked: Our Gallery In A Truck

It's even crazier than it sounds.
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Unpacked: Mobile Gallery is an alternative artist-run exhibition space founded as an artis collective in April of 2017. The DIY artist space exhibits innovative artists across disciplines through a “mobile gallery” or “pop-up truck show.” Our truck turned showroom allows for guerrilla art shows around the city of Chicago. Because finding and affording gallery space is typically a difficult and expensive venture, it occurred to this team of DeKalb-based artists that a more cost-effective way to conduct pop-up shows in the city was to rent a truck and find parking. This thrilling communal project allows artists to create their own opportunities to curate, showcase, and have total control over how and where their work is exhibited in a unique and interactive space. Original contributing members include Shane Bowers, Rafael Rocha Jr., Faith Wittrock, Naomi Elson, Samantha Mendoza, Terrance Gray, Noah Kashiani, Jilian Reints, Steven Lockwood, Rebecca Griffith and myself.


We expected a few bumps in our plan but did not anticipate a bumpy ride from DeKalb to Chicago. We ran across our first complication when we rented our moving truck in Chicago the morning of our opening. All previous installations of our gallery walls took place in DeKalb, using a local Penske truck. However, at 70 cents a mile, we decided to drive the walls to the city using Unpacked artist Naomi Elson's van. We were initially pleased with the truck we rented in Chicago, which was in pristine condition because it was brand new. However, it turns out the new model for the 16-foot truck was not built to the exact dimensions of the original truck, which the walls were custom built to fit.

A collective relies on the talents of many, luckily, there was no shortage of smart, creative, problem-solving artists on the scene. Through the efforts of at least three of our members, the walls were installed three hours later than expected, utilizing saws, screws, nails, foam and tape. As the Digital Media Manager for Unpacked, I had put out an official newsletter and Facebook invites promoting our show to start at 4:30 p.m. I can say with certainty, the walls were not successfully in place until closer to 6 p.m.

And the bumps just continued from there! After finally having our gallery walls perfectly lining the bed of the truck, we began our touch ups with white paint. As it turned out, the quart of paint we brought from DeKalb was half a shade off, mudded and ill-fitting to the crisp white we had painted the walls. We could not evenly coat the walls with this less flattering color even if we wanted to because a quart of paint does not go a long way. So an emergency trip to Home Depot was made.

In the meantime, we began to install the wooden beams that held our LED lights suspended from the top of the truck. On our first try we installed the lights backward, so the extension cord would be required to plug in at the very back wall of the gallery, dragging clumsily across the gallery floor. In our attempt to remedy this, one of the wooden beams fell in transit and snapped in half, leaving us panicked and unsure if it would light! It was a near debilitating amount of chaos at this point.

Quickly we screwed the beam back in place (with an additional piece of trim for support) and grabbed the extension cord to see if our lights were too damaged to work. This is when we realized we had unknowingly brought along a broken cord. We called our team member who had just walked out the doors of Home Depot, sending him back in to collect this item.

While he rushed back with paint and a means for electricity, a number of the guests I had invited arrived to see our show. This list included former students, grad school professors, and my boss. To paint you a picture, at this point I was barefoot (heels are never a smart choice) with paint on my hands and an uninstalled show. Mortified but in fight or flight mode, I apologized for our delayed opening and requested that they check out some of the openings in the gallery district, eat, and come back.

Shane Bowers

Deconstructing Identity

The expression on Shane's piece Deconstructing Identity perfectly captures the emotions of our evening.



With each setback, the team was ready with a solution, prepared to fix it. This is all while moving location. We were constantly on the hunt for a better parking spot, closer to the gallery district on Washington and Peoria. This meant splitting tasks from installing the show to finding and saving parking spots in more populated areas of the West Loop. Those who sought better parking worked in pairs. It required two vehicles to save a spot large enough for the moving truck to occupy. Some of our moves took place while the walls were still being worked on. We played street parking musical chairs in within eyesight of the truck so not to be ticketed in the process of moving.



Each time we moved location, I had to update our position over email blasts, Facebook and LinkedIn so our followers could find us. Once fully installed and plugged in, we were delighted to find that each of our LED lights were operating. As a result of quick thinking, problem-solving, teamwork and camaraderie we pulled everything together, though much later than intended.

Was It A Success?

I categorize this experience in two parts. Part One: A Mess, Part Two: Success. Even with our final location (Washington and Peoria, just two blocks South of Carrie Secrist Gallery and Kavi Gupta), we did not gather an astonishing crowd, and those who were marveled by our gallery were not members of our target audience.

Given that our main objective was to broaden our exposure as artists and participate in the art community, we succeeded in our goal. And quite honestly, the tipsy bar-goers may not have been the art enthusiasts, collectors, or artists we intended to meet, but we most certainly did make an impression on them. We were visited by a few prominent members of the Chicago arts community including Associate Director of Carrie Secrist Gallery, Britton Bertran and contemporary artist, Darryll Schiff. Bertran mentioned he recognized the logo on our business cards (points to me, digital media manager and business card designer!) And at the end of the evening we had well over fifty guests (so suggests my dwindling pile of business cards). Ultimately our gallery brought together people from different walks of life to share in a memorable experience and I am proud of what we achieved.

I like to think of May 20th as a soft opening for Unpacked. We have ambitious plans for the future, and with any luck, our trail run will have us well-equipped to smooth out any bumps along the way. In my experience, some of the most difficult things to do are also the most rewarding. So while 75% of the day felt like a downward tailspin, the last 25% felt like we were soaring high.

Please stay tuned for Part Two of this story which goes more in depth on the artwork curated in the show.


To follow our space more closely

- Visit Our Website

- "Like" Our Facebook Page

- "Follow" Us on Instagram






Cover Image Credit: Lauren Ike

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37 Drake Lyrics From 'Scorpion' That Will Make Your Next Instagram Caption Go Double Platinum

Side A makes you want to be single, Side B make you want to be boo'd up.

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We all knew Scorpion was going to be the summer banger we wanted. However, Drake surprised us with two sides of an album and two sides of himself. Mixing rap and R&B; was genius on his part, so why not dedicate 37 of his lyrics to our Instagram captions?

1. "Don't tell me how knew it would be like this all along" — Emotionless

Definitely a "I'm too good" for you vibe.

2. "My mentions are jokes, but they never give me the facts" — Talk Up

This one's for my haters.

3. "I wanna thank God for workin' way harder than Satan" — Elevate

For when you're feeling blessed.

4. "I promise if I'm not dead then I'm dedicated" — March 14

In Drake's story about his son the world knows about now, we get a lyric of true love and dedication

5. "My Mount Rushmore is me with four different expressions" — Survival

6. "Pinky ring 'til I get a wedding ring" — Nonstop

7. "I gotta breathe in real deep when I catch an attitude" — 8 Out of 10

This first line of the song is about to be spread on the gram like a wildfire

8. "Heard all of the talkin', now it's quiet, now it's shush" — Mob Ties

9. "California girls sweeter than pieces of candy" — Sandra's Rose

This is gonna have every girl who has ever stayed in Cali all hot and heavy, watch it.

10. "I think you're changing your mind, starting to see it in your eyes" — Summer Games

Y'all know how these summer games go

11. "Look the new me is really still the real me" — In My Feelings

When you've got to profess that you've changed 200%

12. "Only beggin' that I do is me beggin' your pardon" — Is There More

13. "Shifted your focus, lens lookin' jaded" — Jaded

14. "Back and forth to Italy, my comment section killin' me" — Can't Take a Joke

Necessary for when you've got people hyping you up already

15. "People are only as tough as they phone allows them to be" — Peak

Y'all can't have this one, I'm stealing it

16. "Work all winter, shine all summer" — That's How You Feel

Put in the work so you can flex on 'em, summer 18

17. "Blue faces, I got blue diamonds, blue tint, yeah" — Blue Tint


18. "I stay busy workin' on me" — Elevate

19. "Ten of us, we movin' as one" — Talk Up

The perfect reason to get the largest group picture you've had on your gram

20. "October baby for irony sake, of course" — March 14

This statistically applies to 1/12 of y'all reading this, so take that as you will (we October babies are the best)

21. "She had an attitude in the summer but now she nice again" — Blue Tint

22. "I know you special girl 'cause I know too many" — In My Feelings


23. "Gotta hit the club like you hit them, hit them, hit them angles" — Nice for What

24. "She said 'Do you love me?' I tell her, 'Only partly,' I only love my ____ and my ____ I'm sorry" — God's Plan

If you haven't used this one yet, get to it

25. "But I'm blessed I just checked, hate me never met me in the flesh" — I'm Upset

26. "It's only good in my city because I said so" — 8 Out of 10

Follow this up with a location and shoutout your hometown

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28. "I always need a glass of wine by sundown" — Final Fantasy

Has Drake ever been more relatable?

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Let's go get kicked out of an Applebee's

30. "I move through London with the Eurostep" — Nonstop


31. "I stopped askin' myself and I started feelin' myself" — Survival

Mood all summer 18

32. "They keep tryna' get me for my soul" — I'm Upset

33. "I'm tryna see who's there on the other end of the shade" — Emotionless

34. "Only obligation is to tell it straight" — Elevate

35. "It don't matter to me what you say" — Don't Matter to Me


This line from the King of Pop (MJ) will give you chills. R.I.P.

36. "I'm the chosen one, flowers never pick themselves" — Sandra's Rose

37. "Say you'll never ever leave from beside me" — In My Feelings

Couple goals, amirite?

Cover Image Credit:

@champagnepapi / Instagram

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19 Struggles Every Retail Worker Faces

Because if things were easy then you wouldn't have any stories to share.

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At first, working in retail sounded so nice. Standing around folding clothes, talking to people, and getting paid. Sounds easy right...wrong. Here are just a few of the many struggles that retail workers face on the daily just to make their paycheck.

1. Screaming children

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So let me get this straight. Tommy is allowed to start screaming in the middle of the store because he wants to go home but I'm not. Unfair.

2. Shoplifters

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After working in retail for a bit, you get pretty good at reading body language. Nothing like getting to call security on a 13-year-old.

3. When the register freezes

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4. One word: Inventory

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Nothing like spending you're entire day counting out every single item in your store, right? The best is when you get distracted and loose your place.

5. When your coworker doesn't show up


Nothing like 10 people wanting your attention at once.

6. "Can I speak to your manager?"

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Yes. let me bring them over here so they can tell you the exact same thing i just told you. The best is when someone asks you this and you are the manager.

7. Using change

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Yes, please give me $20 worth of change that I can count out. Don't worry about the line, i'm sure they won't mind the wait.

8. Trying to bargain over prices

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This isn't a negotiation. Either pay the price listed, or leave.

9. People leaving a mess

Nothing is better then watching someone completely mess up an area that you just spent the last 30 minutes cleaning.

10. Customers who come in 5 minutes before close

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11. The boredom of a slow day

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12. And the rush of a sale day

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13. Overly-chatty customers

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14. Asking about rewards cards

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I get it. It's annoying and you probably don't have or want the card. We don't want to say it just as much as you don't want to hear it.

15. Checking the back

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People tend to think that the back of the store is some huge endless supply of everything we have in the store. Nope.

16. Customers who try to come inside when the store is closed

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Do you not see the sign?

17. Working long shifts with no breaks

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18. Working. Every. Single. Weekend.

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Because what's a social life anyway?

19. Waiting for someone to bring you change

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As bad as things get, though, the store discounts make it all worth it!

Cover Image Credit:

Photo by Hannah Morgan on Unsplash

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