Art on the Move

Local artist Matt Swenson curates Minnesota’s first art truck.

In our modern world of stuffy galleries, “do not touch” signs and mass-produced prints, art can feel distant and unfriendly. But local artist Matt Swenson, founder of the Minnesota Art Truck, sees art differently. “Art can be approachable and fun and be accessible on your terms,” Swenson says.

Swenson has been experimenting with different mediums his whole life. When he discovered “found” art, he knew he’d stumbled upon his true calling. He creates whimsical sculptures and other pieces with what he calls “old stuff” that doesn’t seem like it would work together.

Swenson started the Minnesota Art Truck in pursuit of connecting artists to the public. The truck itself is a 1950 Chevy grain truck, purchased from a family farm in North Dakota. Swenson describes it as “a piece of art in itself that makes people smile.”

The truck travels to different venues, much like a food truck, and features the work of a wide variety of artists. Think jewelry, pottery, hand-bound journals, antiques and handcrafted pens. Children’s author Bing Puddlepot (Jonathan Weise) even hosted a reading of his book, Jimmy Jonny Brownie Stays Up All Night, on the truck.

Swenson says traditional galleries often pocket half of what the artist makes selling their work, and some artists sell their work online for steep discounts. Swenson sees the truck as the anti-website. He believes that art should be an experience, kindling for discussion, and should benefit the artist, too. So the job of the Minnesota Art Truck is to connect local artists with the public. Businesses and private events can book the truck, and Swenson and his artists will curate art and artists best fit for the event. So far, the truck has appeared at breweries, festivals, fundraisers and fairs. Now that’s beautiful.