"It's OK, we have the insurance on it," yells Phil Rowland, as he runs out to the moving truck he and his fellow San Diego State University grad students have rented to haul their "Expanding Gallery" piece to Art Produce Gallery in North Park. Moments before, a vehicle had sped by the gallery on University Avenue and grazed the moving truck, knocking the side view mirror off and sending it flying into the road.
Rowland is lucky he heard the crash, given all the noise around him. For a few hours he and the other students from SDSU's Furniture Design and Woodworking graduate program (Nathaniel Hall, Aleya Lanteigne, Peter Scheidt and Joshua Torbick) have been dutifully pounding, drilling and screwing the "Expanding Gallery" into place. Created to showcase the students' designs at the SOFA (Sculpture, Objects, Functional Art and Design) conference and expo in Chicago this past November, the gallery became a highly designed, collaborative work unto itself, consisting of a collapsible backdrop and a wooden, showroom-esque floor.
"We're all used to working by ourselves in our own little spaces. This is the first time we all collaborated," says Scheidt. "There's no overall theme to our individual pieces, but for the gallery, we still had to make sure we were on the same page when it came to the design."
Scheidt says it wasn't always an easy process.
"We all have the same skill set which makes it fun, but it can also make the collaboration harder because we all know or think we know the right way to put it together," says Scheidt. "You know the saying, 'too many cooks in the kitchen.' This was too many carpenters."
The gallery and student pieces will be up at Art Produce (3139 University Ave.) through Feb. 28, before ostensibly being donated to the SDSU arts organization Arts Alive, so it can be used as a "portable-modular-gallery-lounge-space." SDSU professor Matthew Hebert oversaw the gallery project and says he doesn't know specifically how Arts Alive will use the "Expanding Gallery" piece, but that "their goal is to ultimately increase the visibility of art on campus." Both he and Scheidt agree that the design will need to be tweaked and retrofitted to make it fully portable and user-friendly.
"It's easy for us to assemble and disassemble it, but it could be tricky for someone else," says Scheidt, joking that they need to design some Ikea-type directions for the folks at Arts Alive. "Yeah, all we need is to write it out and get some plastic baggies with the appropriate hardware."