Art in Motion

By Claire Cummings

For those who fear to tread inside art galleries, Jonathan Dueck’s approach to art may be a breath of fresh air. Dueck, a third year drawing student at Alberta College of Art and Design, has created a portable gallery, accessible to everyone around him. Dueck was inspired to create his gallery because he liked the relationship between the public and art-making outside of traditional exhibition spaces and museums.

"For a while I had this little book. I took public transit, and was interested in people’s stories," says Dueck. He invited friends, artists and strangers he met on the bus to contribute to his book.

"Then, I found [a] red suitcase, and came up with the idea of turning it into a gallery."

Dueck’s mini-gallery, named In Transit, has been traveling Calgary’s streets with him ever since. Friends from ACAD use the space to display their works.

"The response has been pretty positive. Some people think it’s a scam, but most people are excited about it," as Dueck goes on weekly excursions at specific times in order to make his gallery accessible. He has had every sort of reaction from the public, from suspicion to bemusement.

"I remember this guy who was on his way to Russia. He thought I was trying to sell something. He just couldn’t accept that I wasn’t," he says. "Another guy came out of his store and asked me if I was doing a science experiment."

Because Dueck grew up in Winnipeg and wasn’t exposed to art environments, he doesn’t take art for granted.

"A lot of people feel alienated by galleries and are afraid to go into them," Dueck explains. "There’s some kind of fear of them."

In Transit has affected the way Dueck views the relationship between art and the viewer. Dueck questions the very value of making objects, and sees art as more about the experience of the audience than the production of actual pieces of art.

"My ideas of art are shifting. I’m asking myself what’s the point of making physical objects, and looking more to installation or performance," he says. "Art should be made with the viewer in mind. It should make the viewer question their own world."

In the future, Dueck hopes to develop his idea further, by recording his experiences with In Transit and staging events in conjunction with non-mobile galleries. In the meantime, Dueck continues to take art space to the streets to meet the public.

"This way, they don’t have to go through the doors [of a gallery]. Art can come to them."

For more information, contact Dueck at

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