Magical Mobile Art Cart

The NOLA Artist Incubator is pleased to announce that the nonprofit is the recipient of a 2022 Arts & Culture Grant from Entergy to fabricate the Magical Mobile Art Cart!

Update: 3/2/2023

UPDATE: 2/16/2023

Check out the progress! Trim work around the door and window really make the cart pop!

And after much consideration (seriously, an agonizing amount of time) the configuration of the large door is realized. An unorthodox solution of making the door a double door met all our needs. One door will swing up to act as an awning and the other door will swing out.

UPDATE: 2/14/2023

So many great things were installed today- Happy Valentine’s Day! Here’s a glimpse of the door.

Close up of handle, marbles, and finely painted lines and dots

The door really gives a magical feeling to the cart.

UPDATE: 2/13/2023

Today we made the sign for the Magical Mobile Art Cart. Made from repurposed iron cut out letters and scraps from the build, it turned out rad.

We also made the front door. We used furring strips and some leftover wood, painted it, and I promptly got to work. This is one of the design elements that I was excited most about conveying a whimsical and magical feeling. I took many drill bits to the the door, trying hard to not create a clear pattern, and burrowed in holes. The holes go all the way through so on the back, black painted side, there are tiny pinpricks for light to enter. Then I secured marbles into the notches and we hung the door. Here’s a glimpse of that process in the image below.

We hung the door; closes and opens, but only after several modifications, with several saws. we hung the window and added trim and the ceiling is entirely in place. Next up, painting the roof, trimming and painting the remaining exterior walls. We’ll need to make the final doors and paint the floors after that. Every step take 16 extra steps, but the finish line is near and we are feeling great with every new addition. Once construction is complete, we can always trick it out more, and I have a feeling that might be the case.

Here at the Incubator, we’ve fallen in love with what a beauty she’s becoming!

UPDATE: 2/11/2023

Despite two days of rain we managed to complete the rafters for the hip roof, saw, paint, and hang trim. It’s feeling like a little house. The painting as we go philosophy is paying off (and saving time and money, eliminating the need for painters tape). We got the pressure treated plywood up just before the rain came. Here’s a glimpse of hard working making magic. Oh, and we have been skipping Mardi Gras parades in order to work on the build. When you’re making something magical, sacrifices must be made. We will be taking time off tomorrow.

Happy Carnival, y’all!

UPDATE: 2/9/2023

Hip rafters in place! The Magical Mobile Art Cart got some more painting (the painting is ongoing and tedious) and all the trim boards have been painted (twice) to prepare for installation. Making record time, we’re delighted to share our progress.

The six boards used for the hip roof required three different saws and 2 cuts per saw (6 cuts per board). Check out the intricacies involved in the image below.

Undeniably resembling quintessential NOLA architecture…stay tuned!

UPDATE: 2/7/2023

Today we added the common rafters for the gable roof. More painting was done and the window is finished. We hung the elaborate hangers and the cart is starting feel pretty magical to us.

Progress photographs

UPDATE: 2/6/2023

Added two coats of wood putty to the seams and sanded; time to paint! We made progress on the roof and the “box” is starting to resemble a house, as is our intention. We made some pretty serious color choices and are pleased with the Gypsy Teal exterior. The devil is in the details and it’s time to detail the Magical Mobile Art Cart! Check out our before and after pictures from this morning!

UPDATE: 2/5/2024

We gave the stained plywood overnight to dry and started making cuts for the walls early this morning. The contrast between the colors is striking! It was an excellent decision to paint as we went as the stain is oil based and the paint on the studs is acrylic interior. We just love how it’s coming out! Check out our progress!

The start of adding walls
In progress
Exterior walls in place
Frames and walls up
The corners of the build
A glimpse of the front door from inside the Magical Mobile Art Cart

UPDATE: 2/4/2023

The Magical Mobile Art Cart has four walls! Today we got the wall for our doorway framed, finished painting the interior, and stained the remaining plywood for the walls and ceiling. Check out our progress!

Door way for the cart
Stained plywood
Moonlight Mahogany stained plywood

The colors turned out much more sophisticated than expected, and we’re thrilled! Next up: hip roof.

UPDATE: 2/3/2023

One more wall up in the Magical Mobile Art Cart! This one is framed for a recycled window to go into the wall. Also, today we added some interior paint. Building is ahead of schedule and we couldn’t be happier!

UPDATE: 2/2/2023

One more wall is framed!

UPDATE: 2/1/2023

The first wall of the Magical Mobile Art Cart is framed! We started by making strips of plywood to insert between the frame of the trailer and our floor foundation. This was done to reduce the hassle of trying to get the heavy full sheets of plywood in the tight space. It was a good decision as we ended up having to chisel around the 2x4s to make them fit. Here’s what it looked like from start to finish.

Adding one strip of plywood to the side of the cart
Three strips of plywood around the base

Next we built the frame, using three 2x4s on both ends.

We framed in the wall, using a 14.5 inch guide for spacing.

Then we put it in the cart to see if our measurements were correct. Sure enough, we’re spot on!

One wall down, three to go! Check out the process on the video below, or follow the action on our YouTube channel or on Instagram @nolaartistincubator!

Video not working? Try this link:

UPDATE: 1/29/2023

We have started the build one week ahead of the projected schedule and we’re thrilled to share the humble beginnings of our project! We’ve purchased the carry-on trailer and building materials for the construction of the building. And, we have secured the foundation for the build to the trailer! Here’s a glimpse of this Sunday’s progress!

Materials for the build
1/29/2023: Pressure treated plywood subfloor cut and installed
1/29/2023: Subfloor secured to the trailer

We’ll continue to update you on our progress on this page. Stay tuned!

The Concept

The Magical Mobile Art Cart is a whimsical traveling makerspace aimed at engaging the community with the arts while creating sustainable art installations at various locations throughout New Orleans. The interactive installation is designed to empower participants to explore collaborative environmental projects that will make a lasting impact in our community. Lissie Stewart, the Executive Director and professional artist, will be charged with the fabrication. The build for the project is set to commence in February 2023.

Designed to travel to different locations, the project aims to transfer materials for creating sustainable art installations, while inviting visitors to join in conversations about local environmental issues.

Architectural Influences

The Magical Mobile Art Cart is a research based fabrication inspired by the unique architecture of New Orleans. A blending of Late Victorian, Italianate, and distinctive Eastlake architectural styles found in traditional ornamentation of homes are key features of this design. The Magical Mobile Art Cart will be built to resemble a single shotgun, with a nod to side gallery shotgun homes, typical of New Orleans architecture.

Transom Windows

The side door is intended to have a conversation with Transom windows, frequently found in New Orleans. Modified to meet the need of the traveling makerspace, the following styles we’re researched for the design:

  • 2/4 Slip Head Window Italianate,Neoclassical
  • 6/9 Slip Head Window Greek Revival,
  • 6/6/6 Triple‐hung Window

Ultimately both garage doors and airplane hangar construction were referenced and modified to resemble that of a side gallery shotgun, typical of New Orleans architecture. This was aimed at providing the most efficient use of space with consideration to aesthetics. Since all of the components and details of a window are essential to defining the construction period and style, the design resembles windows that typically open to provide passage onto a porch or gallery.

Artist Rendering of Door, Side View

Hipped Roof

The early shotguns generally had hipped roofs on the front and rear, or had hipped front and gabled rear. They were built close to the ground and abutting the sidewalk, with a shallow roof overhang in the front. This was an essential feature for the building’s construction in order to include elaborate brackets and corbels into the design. Though the least aerodynamic roof design for a traveling workshop, this roof is so iconic it was decided early in the design process to be the best aesthetic choice for the build. Careful consideration towards addressing the structural integrity was important to keep the structure strong enough to withstand the impact of wind while traveling. As such, the decision to include a hip roof on both sides of the Magical Mobile Art Cart was made to both pay homage to the architecture distinctive to New Orleans, while building the most aerodynamic design for the purpose of the installation.

Interested in learning more?

The Incubator intends to document and share the progress of the fabrication on social media. You can follow the build on Instagram, @nolaartistincubator or, on our new YouTube channel at the link below.

The NOLA Artist Incubator is 501(c)3 nonprofit with a mission of providing education, community outreach, and an Artist-in-Residence Program; the NOLA Artist Incubator is committed to building a creative network of makers for a more sustainable New Orleans.

We believe in the power of art to transform spaces.

This project is made possible by funding from Entergy.

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