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The Optimus Prime of Art Galleries Makes Its St. Marks Debut - The Local East Village Blog - NYTimes.com


The Optimus Prime of Art Galleries Makes Its St. Marks Debut


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constructDaniel Maurer
construct2Daniel Maurer The truck has a skylight, swinging front doors,
and a sliding brick wall.

Last night a moving truck pulled up in front of Pinkberry on St. Marks Place and put its blinkers on. But it wasn’t there to unload Ikea furniture: this was a pop-up art gallery. Or, more accurately, a pull-up gallery.

In 2008, Adeel Usman, a onetime aspiring actor who bears a striking resemblance to Aziz Ansari, and John Herbert Wright, his friend since high school, made yet another unsuccessful bid to get Mr. Wright’s artwork placed in a Chelsea gallery. While they grabbed lunch at a nearby taco truck, they had the idea of building an art gallery of their own – one that, unlike their Harlem studio, could rove around the city like a food truck.

They acquired a Moishe’s moving van that was bound for the junkyard and, without knowing much about construction, installed plexiglass windows on its sides and roof, plus sliding and swinging doors. Last summer, the project they call 83rd Anomally was born.

construct3Daniel Maurer T-shirts by John Herbert Wright

As Van Morrison and Tom Petty played on the roving gallery’s speakers, Mr. Usman said this was its first time in the East Village. He planned to return next Thursday evening depending on the outing’s success. “Sometimes the store owners aren’t happy with us because we’re parked out front,” he said. “But we’re not competing with them – we’re trying to get people to go to our Website, go to our events, and possibly consider purchasing one of our pieces.”

construct5Daniel Maurer

Ultimately, Mr. Usman hopes to build enough notoriety to warrant a trip to Art Basel. In the meantime, he hasn’t quit his day job as a contract auditor (and Mr. Wright hasn’t quit his night job as a doorman at Mario Batali’s swank Del Posto restaurant). His two gigs add up to 16- to 18-hour days. “I don’t consider this part work,” he said. “This charges me up. My girlfriend wouldn’t agree with me so much, but…”