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Meet the Vancouver woman launching a tiny, mobile art gallery

It's small. It's mobile. It brings art everywhere it goes.

Locals will soon be able to buy art in parking lots, fields and other off-grid spots in and around Vancouver, thanks to Sara Quine.

The Shoebox Art Gallery is her new take on the mobile business model; in this case, it's taking something that's very much associated with brick-and-mortar spaces, putting it on wheels, and pulling it to markets, off-grid events and brewpubs all over the place.

Quine, who's spent years working in the film industry as a set decoration buyer, had the idea three years ago. Like many others, the pandemic gave her a moment to step back from her 60-hours-per-week job and consider taking the tiny, moving gallery concept and having a go at it.

She saved up, bought a 16-by-7-foot trailer and refit it with her dad. That includes custom peg boards she drilled herself, cupboards and lighting (the pair have a history of similar projects). She also took small business courses at BCIT.

What kind of art will be in the gallery on wheels?

Keeping with the theme of "small," Quine's gallery-on-wheels will focus on art under 11 inches by 17 inches; that's also part of her goal of bringing art to more people. By keeping sizes smaller it keeps the costs down and caters to people living in small places, as is often the case with renters in Vancouver.

And instead of selling her own work (she dabbles, but that's it), she wants to bring new artists to the people.

"My goal with the Shoebox Art Gallery is to create greater exposure for artists in B.C." she says, noting emerging artists face significant underrepresentation.

"I'm doing my very best to really know the artist I represent," she adds. "I really want it to be artist forward."

Quine's hope is that if people find a piece they like at the gallery, she can connect them with that artist's portfolio of work.

It also means she'll be focusing on prints; one of the people who's helped her along the way is artist Jeff Wilson. Quine explains Wilson paints large-scale originals, but is able to make a steady income selling smaller prints. The plan is to help more artists earn that way.

While she's excited about the new venture, she says it's not as easy as some might expect.

"The thing about mobile retail in Vancouver is that there are still a lot of restrictions and regulations that aren't in place," Quine explains, noting she had a lot of help from the Vancouver Fashion Truck in that department. "I really hope that between me and the Fashion Truck and other mobile businesses that are popping up that we can change that."

In addition to showing up at events and locations with the gallery and art shop (she'll have art cards and other small items, too), Quine is renting the Shoebox Gallery (along with her as a staff member).

"You can rent the gallery to do your own solo shows or collaborative shows," she says.

The Shoebox Gallery already has one show lined up: on Sept 2 from 5 to 9 p.m. and on Sept 3 and 4 from noon  to 8 p.m. the trailer will be set up at Container Brewing, along with a DJ and some of the artists Quine represents.


A post shared by Sara (@shoeboxart)

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