Turning Shipping Containers into Mobile Art Spaces

23 January 2014 by


Turning Shipping Containers into Mobile Art SpacesStorage in its many forms is little more than a shell in which more meaningful things are housed. But, between the convenience, utility, and apparent longevity of these metal boxes, storage containers may be more than we previously perceived.

In a study in sustainable practice and artistic longevity, marina 59 on Jamaica Bay in Queens is becoming the home of some innovative re-purposing. ArtBloc, the nonprofit organization running the endeavor, is using old shipping containers in order to create cheap and mobile art units.

In addition, the venture will feature a houseboat titled “Jerko the Gowanus Water Vacuum”. The water-born former residence will accompany Sea Worthy, a creative project that encourages artistic boat building and water travel.

The marina’s new lease on life comes at the behest of Ari Zablozski, who saw an opportunity to reverse the downward spiral of development and dereliction in the area. Before this project came to life, the marina was a haven for rotting boat bodies and a poorly attended bait shop.

ArtBloc will introduce two massive containers to the marina in the coming weeks, with the intent to introduce dramatic staging and gallery space to the decaying area. To quote Angus Vail who’s helping to coordinate the effort, the area is “underserved”.

Between Mr. Vail and his wife, Julie Daugherty, the couple brings a diverse background of artistic experience to bear on the project. Based in Jersey City, the couple has, between them, managed rock bands, performed physical therapy for the American Ballet Theatre, and now introduced creative repurposing to a metropolitan area in dire need.

Tapping local talent, Manhattan-based Tim Steele, in tandem with Brooklyn’s design firm Big Prototype, see myriad possibilities for the huge metal husks. Steele, in conjunction with TRS Containers of Avenel, NJ, have seen the containers cut open and transformed into climate-monitoring labs and pop-up retail spaces. Considering the price tag of $3,300 to $6,000 per container, the project offers a potent combination of big savings and big ideas.

As for the houseboat/lab, its relocation presents a welcomed attraction to the destitute area. Solar-energy and rainwater projects will offer workshops on sustainability. But the July through August docket features a residency program that offers ambitious applicants the chance to practice green techniques while living at sea.

Rounding out the stable of creative horses is Sea Worthy, the aforementioned boat-crafting project. Through an exhibition of various pieces and a series of workshops and excursions, roughly 30 artists will embrace the city’s waterways to motivate their artistic sea-bound creations.

Between these sophisticated renovation efforts and their captivating impetus to reintroduce man to the water, the nearby subway stop at Beach and 60th street may see a lot more traffic in the months to come.

SSF Team

SSF Team

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