Greenport’s ‘The Art Bus Project’ will take art on the road

Hannah Fox and Lucia Davis, co-founders of The Art Bus Project. (Credit: Vera Chinese)

If you see an iridescent school bus traveling around Greenport with a logo that features a Pegasus and a pineapple, then you’ve spotted the namesake of the nonprofit organization The Art Bus Project.

The repurposed school bus is the brainchild of Lucia Davis of Greenport, a journalist turned curatorial artist who wants to make art accessible to the masses.

“Our official tag line is ‘The Art Bus Project is a mobile exhibit dedicated to art education, exposure and engagement,’ ” Davis said in a recent interview at her home, which looks like an eclectic gallery of oddities and beautiful things.

“It’s for people who think that art is one thing and that art doesn’t belong to them,” she said.

But that description is quite different from how the initiative began. Davis started by asking more than 200 contemporary artists to complete a survey she dubbed the “Proust Questionnaire.”  It included questions like “Who has been the kindest to you in your life?” and “What is your motto?”

“I wanted to show that artists respond to the same prompts in infinitely different ways,” Davis said.

She took those answers and then dove deeper with eight artists, visiting them for interviews in their homes, where they were also photographed by project co-founder Hannah Fox.

The work of those eight artists — David Rothenberg of Cold Spring, N.Y., Khem of the Bronx, Jason Sapan of Brooklyn, Tim McFarlane of Philadelphia, Mark Cline of Natural Bridge, Va., Romy Aura Maloon of Atlanta, Anna Wittenberg of Little Rock, Ark., and Danilo Gonzalez of Miami — will make up the The Art Bus Project’s inaugural exhibit.

The focus will be on their work, but Davis may include their questionnaire answers and excerpts from their interviews in the gallery.

“She had a ‘dive into every artist’s brain, carnival’ kind of idea,” said Fox, a photographer who lives in Manhattan. “But we hadn’t figured out how to narrow in and make it a clear view of a project. Through time, we’ve had to let things go.”

The side of the bus. (Credit: Vera Chinese)

If there is a thread among the artists — who represent a diversity of races, ages, genders and disciplines — it is that their work is out of the ordinary, even by art world standards. For example, Mr. Rothenberg plays his clarinet with cicadas and Mr. Cline makes foam and fiberglass dinosaur statues.

Davis and Fox, who met while studying at the Claremont (Calif.) University Consortium of colleges, have since raised nearly $19,000 through the nonprofit fundraising site Classy.org. Additionally, they said, they have secured a $5,000 grant from singer Josh Groban’s Find Your Light Foundation.

The biggest expense so far has been the purchase of the bus itself, a 2004 IC Bus CE series purchased through a Connecticut bus reseller they connected with through eBay. It’s been wrapped in a holographic vinyl, the top painted gray and the seats removed.

When the project is up and running, visitors will enter the bus via the front steps, walk through the gallery and exit through the back. Outside, the exhibit will continue with displays, food vendors and more.

The pair hope to launch the The Art Bus Project tour in the spring and will visit the featured artists’ hometowns. They also plan to host fundraising sales and other events to help support the project.

“I think everybody has the ability to create art,” Davis said.

“It’s just if you want to define yourself as an artist,” Fox added.

To make a donation visit bit.ly/ABPdonate. To learn more about the project, visit theartbusproject.com.