Mobile arts truck brings pop-up exhibits to Montreal boroughs throughout the summer

The truck keeps its locations a secret, so the only way to find it is to keep your eyes peeled.

The truck keeps its locations a secret, so the only way to find it is to keep your eyes peeled

This mobile art gallery and studio is bringing free art exhibits to different boroughs in Montreal all summer. (Christian Bujold/Verticale)

If you spot this zebra-striped truck roaming around Montreal this summer, don't expect it to dish out a gourmet poutine or a cone of soft serve.

While the truck is similar in appearance to a food truck, it's actually a free mobile art gallery and studio created by Verticale, an artist-run centre in Laval.

Throughout the summer, the truck, called Villa, is making stops in almost all the boroughs in Montreal, Laval and beyond.

The stops aren't announced beforehand to keep a crowd from gathering due to the pandemic. The only way to find it is to keep your eyes peeled.

Charlotte Penaccio-Letendre, artistic director of Verticale, told CBC's All in a Weekend that the truck is kind of like a transformer.

"It's a food truck type vehicle customized to host both artists and citizens," she said. "It works like a studio and small art gallery. ... The exhibition deploys itself in and out of the truck."

Villa will be circulating twice a week until the end of September, bringing exhibits and artists directly to the public.

"It's a way more casual way to interact with artwork. It's less institutionalized than a museum space or even commercial galleries," said Penaccio-Letendre.

Artists accompany the truck to its pop-up locations to facilitate and answer questions about the installations. (Christian Bujold/Verticale)

The truck features the work of five artists who have been part of Verticale's lineup for the past two years, including a virtual reality piece, a video and a large textile sculpture that people can manipulate.

She said that many of the people, often families and kids, are encountering media arts for the first time.

When the truck rolls up to their corner, they get a chance to experience virtual reality installations, soft sculpture and visual or performance arts on their own block. 

One artist and two interpreters attend the pop-ups to facilitate and answer questions.

LISTEN | Charlotte Penaccio-Letendre explains how the Villa truck project works:

With files from CBC's All in a Weekend, Radio-Canada's Claudia Hébert