Brand altruism is the fuel behind our Brands We Love series, in which we profile brands that intrigue and inspire us. This month we’re focusing on brands started in 1970, like ours. And today’s story begins like many other tales of the modern American West, with an axle and four wheels.
We’re not talking about a shiny convertible though. We’re talking about an aluminum stepvan that’s been in business since 1970.
The stepvan’s first job was delivering baked goods, when it was filled with Wonder Bread and Hostess Twinkies, Ho Hos and Ding Dongs. Come the 1980s, a Colorado Springs handyman and famed Elvis impersonator owned the truck. Then it was passed on to a telephone repairman, also in Colorado Springs.
The shiny truck began a new journey in 2010 when Matthew Chase-Daniel and Jerry Wellman purchased it from a Colorado used stepvan dealer and drove it back to Santa Fe, New Mexico. They reimagined and rebuilt the truck into a mobile art space, called Axle Contemporary, which every year engages about 6,000 people. Axle’s exhibitions occur primarily in and around Santa Fe, where both artists live and work; however, they also occasionally venture to Taos and Albuquerque, too.
Since 2010, Axle’s approximately 150 exhibitions have featured the work of about 400 contemporary artists, both emerging and established, and all of whom call New Mexico home. Their 2020 calendar is atypically uncertain. However, as soon as conditions allow, and once the new tires are on, Matthew and Jerry will again be positioning Axle near Santa Fe’s coffee shops, community centers, grocery stores and other areas with high pedestrian traffic.
Smallness is arguably one of Axle’s greatest strengths, especially right now. The gallery and team are adaptable, fleet, and ever committed to consistent, high-quality programming. The remainder of 2020 may include more installations, wherein Axle rests in a set location and the back window allows an anytime view into the gallery. The team is also exploring providing more interactive experiences, perhaps as extensions of partnerships with organizations like the New Mexico Museum of Art and the Institute of American Indian Arts.
Owing to the combination of the two curators’ unique strengths and the constancy of their vision, Axle is a nimble, flexible vehicle for artistic expression and experience. We think it’s a brilliant brand, we believe in what it’s doing in the world, and we look forward to seeing how this humble stepvan will evolve in the next 50 years. Please consider seeking out this unique gallery when we are again able to visit the places and people we love.
Now in our 50th year of business, Vladimir Jones is Colorado’s original independent, integrated advertising agency, with offices in Denver and Colorado Springs. We believe in brilliant brands and love making the world love them as much as we do.