On the Road Again

An unusual bookmobile brings zines and one-of-a-kind artists' books to the masses

Arts funding is usually one of the first things to go during a recession, but thanks to an increasing number of DIY artists, plunging stock markets don't have to mean that the creative juices stop flowing. Folks are erecting outdoor microcinemas or mounting exhibits in their own homes as alternatives to more mainstream venues. One such example of this new ethos, formed by a group of artists and community activists and funded primarily through private donations, is the Mobilivre-Bookmobile.

Housed in a 1959 Airstream trailer, the mobile library has taken its show on the road, carrying an exhibition of approximately 300 zines, indie publications, and one-of-a-kind artists' books through Canada and the U.S. The Bookmobile has popped up at farmers' markets, beaches, and even a sugar refinery, the latest incarnation of a grass-roots trend that bypasses the funding and corporate-control issues that plague many arts institutions. Based in Montreal and Philadelphia, the project visits festivals and schools as well as more inaccessible locations like prisons. "The goal is to take the work to places where you can't normally find this kind of material," explains collective member Ginger Brooks Takahashi.

The Mobilivre-Bookmobile: Coming soon to a farm or 
prison near you.
The Mobilivre-Bookmobile: Coming soon to a farm or prison near you.


Visit the Mobilivre-Bookmobile on Saturday, Aug. 17, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Southern Exposure, 401 Alabama (at 17th Street), S.F., 863-2141; and on Sunday, Aug. 18, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Monday, Aug. 19, from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. at Modern Times Bookstore, 888 Valencia (at 20th Street), S.F., 282-9246

Admission to both locations is free


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During its stop in San Francisco this weekend, the Airstream will be parked outside Southern Exposure and Modern Times Bookstore; coordinators will teach workshops on topics like bookbinding and zine-making. Hosting lectures, video screenings, and educational forums is also part of the Bookmobile's mission to spread the word. With any luck, we'll see a lot more traveling exhibits in the future -- regardless of how the NASDAQ's doing.

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