Box It Up

MidPoint Midway’s Box Truck Carnival brings guerilla-style interactive art to Cincinnati

Sep 21, 2011 at 9:00 am


ow in its 10th year, the MidPoint Music Festival has grown from an annual outlet for local musicians to one of the best and brightest fests in the region, this year offering nationally and globally renowned acts such as Cut Copy, Mates of State and The Album Leaf. This year will also see the inclusion of Cincinnati’s visual arts talent, as ArtWorks and MPMF bring the foreign concept of the Box Truck Carnival to town.

Gathering steam in San Francisco and booming in Brooklyn, the box truck movement will debut in Cincinnati as part of the MidPoint Midway, an outdoor street fair on 12th Street, which will be blocked off between Vine and Walnut in Over-the-Rhine during all three days of MPMF. The Box Truck Carnival will include trucks created by the Midland Film Institute, YES Gallery, Losantiville, Able Projects, Know Theatre and others, with projects ranging from a mini skate park to a putt-putt golf course, all in the back of a moving truck ranging from 16 to 24 feet.

Box Truck Carnival coordinator Sarah Corlett says that when ArtWorks’ Tamara Harkavy visited San Francisco and saw just how crazy the box truck events can be, they had to be a part of MidPoint.

“We were looking for something visually stimulating for MidPoint Music Festival Midway and this just seemed to fit,” says Corlett, who coordinates ArtWorks’ Springboard program. “We’ve joked that this is the first organized legal box truck carnival because usually they are more of a guerrilla style. The artists will line up the trucks by a warehouse and then leave before they get in any sort of trouble. We spoke with the police and they were very cooperative.” 

Corlett says that by having the box truck carnival as a part of the 12th Street Midway, people will have more to do in between shows. 

“I think they’re going to love it,” Corlett says. “With 14 of the 18 venues being in Over-the-Rhine, it will keep people down here and really show them the creative energy that’s in this neighborhood.”  

When asked what the biggest difficulties were in creating the trucks, Corlett says it certainly wasn’t coming up with creative ideas.

“This is not just a pop-up shop,” she says. “One group is doing a two-hole putt-putt course, the Know Theatre wrote an entire play called WeHaul, the Midland Film Institute will be showing movies and Able Projects is building a skate ramp for people to use. The biggest challenge for the artists was finding a place to work.”

With the help of sponsors like vitaminwater, Galaxy Skate Shop and Anonymous Skateboards, Ali Calis and his team began working on a box truck they call “a SkateABLE solution.” The SkateABLE Solution truck will display around 60 custom skateboard decks for sale that were designed and produced by more than 30 artists, at least six of which are associated with Northside-based nonprofit Visionaries and Voices. 

“We wanted the truck to be interactive and also a gallery show,” Calis says. The SkateABLE Solution truck will come decked-out with a mellow ramp and a wallride to wallride transfer for skateboarders to use while the gawkers occupy the inside. Calis and his team hope to finish the truck by MPMF on Thursday. 

“We don’t really have a work budget right now so we’re using mostly salvaged lumber for the truck,” Calis said. “We’ve got all the materials so now it’s just putting it all together.” 

Alex Aeschbury and his crew are working on the Losantiville: The Light Box Truck, which will consist of 80 two-by-fours and 40 to 50 fluorescent lightbulbs. 

“The light bulbs will be stringing onto a runner which will create an undulating surface,” Aeschbury says. (Before you look up “undulating,” it means it will be a really cool wave of lights on the truck.)

Marcelina Robello and MidLand Film have teamed up with Cincinnati State students to bring MidPointers a series of short music videos. 

“We weren’t sure about the weather or if people would be claustrophobic so we didn’t want to do anything lengthy,” Robello says. “I know they’d been looking to add a film component to the festival for a while but didn’t have the capacity. So we were thinking, ‘How can we support film in the region?’ Well, let’s do a box truck.” 

All of the films will have been made by Cincinnati State students and will be on view throughout the the Midway’s three days of “frolic and frivolity.”

The Midway will also include a singer-songwriter stage, a Poster Expo featuring local designers’ concert posters and food and beverage options for MidPoint migrants to indulge in, including Tom + Chee, Turophilia Quesadillas, The Bonbonerie and Stella Artois. But it’s the eye candy that Corlett and the artists want the wanderers to get their fill of. 

“We’ve been calling the Midway a ‘carnival for your senses,’ ” Corlett says. “And with the Box Truck Carnival, people can expect to be entertained. It really showcases the talent here.”

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