TWISP — A mobile art gallery in the works in Twisp may soon bring Methow Valley art to other places. An event nearby, a park in another town, or perhaps a road trip to Burning Man.
But the three Twisp artists who spent their summer gutting a 60-year-old trailer say traveling art is just one small part of their vision for the Spartan Art Project.
It’s also about artists having a place to show something new or experimental without the risk of whether it will sell.
It’s about attracting people who may not feel comfortable in a traditional gallery.
It’s about trust — the Spartan won’t be staffed, so visitors will be expected not to damage or steal anything.
And it’s about having an intimate setting where people can sit around and discuss art, or anything else that the surroundings inspire.
On Saturday, Jeff Windslow, Steve Ward and Matt Armbrust will unveil their work so far on the 1951 Spartan Imperial Mansion, a 36-foot long trailer with 300 square feet of newly replaced plywood floor.
What: TwispWorks’ Winterfest
Events: Music by Ellensburg’s Dainty Saints; open art studios, food, drink, bonfire and a peek at the Spartan Art Project
When: 5 to 9 p.m. Saturday
Where: TwispWorks, 502 S. Glover St.
They’ve sandblasted the outside to remove its Army green coat of paint, and hollowed out the inside, removing some five layers of carpet, a bathroom, kitchen and bedroom, along with nests of hornets and mice that used to inhabit it.
Now stripped to a hollow shell, the Spartan will make its debut at Winterfest, which launches their fundraising effort to remodel the trailer.
“We’re showing everybody the before picture, and hoping to get them excited,” Ward said in an interview this week.
Saturday’s event at TwispWorks will include a bonfire, music, food and, these artists hope, people with enough vision to see beyond the aluminum box on wheels.
The trio of artists had thrown around a lot of ideas about ways to start a low-overhead gallery for artists. But once they saw the ad on Craigslist for a Spartan trailer for sale near Malaga, they couldn’t bring their thoughts back to a stationary structure.
“When we first saw it, we said, ‘No, there’s way too much work there,’ ” Ward said. “But this thing seduced us. We couldn’t shake it. It’s unique, and it’s iconic. And it’s got cool lines.”
So for $800 split between them, Windslow, Ward and Armbrust bought the classic Spartan Imperial Mansion — built just after World War II to fill the manufacturing gap in the aircraft industry. They towed it to the late Bernie Hosey’s property outside of Twisp, and got out their crowbars.
“We joke that we bought the trailer and threw away about 80 percent of it,” Ward said. “There was a lot of nasty stuff in here. All the sub-flooring was totally rotted out.”
Actually, Armbrust said, they took six loads to the dump — most of them over the 500-pound limit — for a total of about one and a half tons of garbage. “It was gross,” he added.
Now that it’s gutted, they plan to remodel the interior this winter, starting with insulation, birch plywood walls and a new floor made with weathered one-by-twos salvaged from the old Longview Fiber plant near Leavenworth. Their goal is to finish it by next summer.
Windslow said after working for several decades by himself in his studio, it’s refreshing for him to collaborate on a project with two other artists. “It came at the right time for me. The sheer joy of this project is working with my fellow Spartans,” he said.
“We’re Spartners,” Ward piped in.
“We’re just a bunch of SAPs, is what we are,” Armbrust countered, referring to the acronym for the Spartan Art Project.
Working together, the three realize they complement each other, even if they are from different generations. A Kickstarter webpage set up to raise funds for the project labels 30-year-old Armbrust as The Brains, Ward, 48, as The Brawn, and Windslow, at age 70, as The Beauty.
“Jeff’s the grandpappy, I’m the kid, and Steve’s the man,” Armbrust said, adding, “The fact that we are three generations is kind of cool. The Silent Generation, the Baby Boomers and Gen X.”
“It’s good.” Ward agreed. “We have different ways of perceiving things, and doing things.”
That includes their ideas for the Spartan’s future. The exterior could become a traveling billboard for whatever show is inside. It could host dance performances, poetry readings, or musical bands. Maybe they can make it solar powered.
“We have so many brainstorms going. It’s forever a project,” Armbrust said.
“Whatever the crazy idea du jour is,” said Ward.
K.C. Mehaffey: 997-2512