With the idea of making art accessible to everyone, Expo Metro is replacing advertisements with art.
According to Rudolph van Valkenberg, founder and CEO of Expo Metro and his Miami partner, artist Brigitte Andrade, exhibitions have taken place from Paris to London, Berlin, Monaco, New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, and Barcelona.
Expo Metro is a one-of-a-kind open air Art Show that is making democracy art accessible to everyone in outdoor public spaces.
For the 10th edition of Expo Metro has already been seen on a giant LED Times Square Billboard in the first week of December and now comes to Ocean Drive, Collins Park Promenade and Normandy Fountain, and around Miami during Miami Art Week and beyond from Thursday, Dec. 7 to Saturday, Dec. 9.
miamiartzine.com caught up with van Valkenburg in the midst of the Expo Metro whirlwind.
miamiartzine.com: Mr. van Valkenburg, tell us about yourself and ExpoMetro.
Rudolf van Valkenburg: I was born in the Netherlands, lived 20 years in Paris and I am now based in the south of France. I am a creative entrepreneur with a passion for digital innovation. I worked at Christie's Paris in the Old Master Painting department and as an art dealer for several years. In 2006, I founded ArtQuid, a global marketplace to discover, buy and sell art online. The self-funded startup became a vibrant community of 100,000 artists from around the world with a mission to enable creators to make a living from their passion.
As a pure player passionate about digital innovation, I wanted to create more than just an online marketplace. Believing that virtual reality will reinvent the future of online art, I launched ArtQuid 3D in 2016. This new feature allowed 10,000 artists to create their customized 3D and VR galleries on desktop and mobile.
But my thirst for innovation went beyond digital and I created ExpoMetro in 2018.
maz:What was your inspiration for Expo Metro?
RVV: In 2004, when I was living in Paris, I liked to look at the massive billboards along the platforms in the Metro subway. In fact, they were not only big but also elegantly framed like a piece of art in a typical Parisian Art Nouveau Style. I started envisioning a world where ads could be replaced by art and kept this image in the back of my mind. I wanted to explore new ways to promote artists in both the virtual and physical world.
The image of the Metro billboards hit my mind. What if advertising spaces could be used as giant canvases to showcase artworks and at the same time be directly accessible online through a QR code?
I immediately launched a crowdfunding to test the idea and in a month 380 artists participated and benefitted from their art featured on a billboard in the Metro. Their art was accessible online on a virtual billboard with a link to their website and social media exposure.
maz: Tell us about the 10th Edition Exhibition from Times Square to Miami Beach and meeting Brigitte Andrade.
RVV: For the 10th edition of Expo Metro, I wanted to go big and what is better than Times Square New York City. Last year we did our first mobile billboard exhibit in Miami Beach and Miami. A lot of work was done behind the scenes in Miami Beach during the year to make Expo Metro an officially recognized Art Fair for the second year and we did not want to lose the momentum we created during Art Basel/Art Week in 2022, which was a success. Brigitte suggested we had to do both and despite this being a massive undertaking, artists have joined the exhibitions in both cities.
I met Brigitte through an email she sent. She had been a member of the Art Quid platform for years and decided to join the Expo Metro Art show in Paris. We continued to communicate, and she has participated in every show since then. We finally met in New York for the Greenwich Village billboard exhibition and she suggested we come to Miami Beach for Art Basel/Art week. I came up with the idea to do mobile art trains and Brigitte made it happen.
maz: What was the first Expo Metro and how did you come up with the name?
RVV: The first expo took place in Paris at Chatelet Metro station with eight massive billboards along the platform visible by 500,000 people during one week in one of the most crowded Metro stations in Central Paris. These massive colorful collages composed of individual paintings, drawings, sculptures, photography and digital art transformed the station into a giant eclectic art gallery.
The name Expo Metro emerged during this first expo with a new mission to make art accessible outside the walls of museums and galleries by bringing it directly in contact with people in their daily lives.
maz: This is the 10th edition, what were the exhibitions leading up to this year's?
RVV: The second edition of Expo Metro took place within the iconic London Underground in December 2019. The 30 cross-track billboards were visible to 1 million commuters during two weeks at the 10 most prestigious tube stations in the heart of London such as Oxford Circus, Westminster, Piccadilly Circus and Bond Street.
Three months later Expo Metro launched its fourth edition in the Berlin U-Bahn at Mehringdamm and Zoologischer Garten Stations. Because of COVID, I couldn't travel to Berlin to discover the 30 billboards and meet the artists. But the vibrant German artists community was particularly active and shared many photos posing in front of their art.
After Paris, London and Berlin, Expo Metro continued its Grand European Tour at the Principality of Monaco, renowned international glamor spot on the Riviera. The open-air spectacle was unique: the colors of the artworks were sublimated by the beautiful light of the Côte d'Azur and stood out in the middle of the Belle Epoque urban architecture.
New York remained the top favorite destination for artists. So, it was time to cross the Atlantic and really go big. Instead of multiple billboards, Expo Metro reserved a giant single 30x20 feet billboard showcasing a Collective Artwork featuring 461 artists and 792 individual artworks in the heart of Manhattan during one week in December of 2021.
Expo Metro continued its world tour with a spectacular 60x25 feet poster in downtown Los Angeles that was installed in July 2022 and then the first Art Train edition in Miami Beach in December.
2023 is the year of all records with a new concept called The Art Tunnel showcasing 1327 artworks by 837 artists on a 180-meter billboard viewed by 400,000 commuters from June 15 to 28, 2023. It was in Passeig de Gracia Metro station in the heart of Barcelona. More than 200 artists hailing from Spain, France, Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, New York, California, Mexico, Brazil, UK, Italy, Belgium, Greece, Iran, Libya, Guadeloupe and many more came from all over the world to the inauguration on the first day.
maz: You describe the experience as interactive. How does that work?
RVV: A QR code is available on each billboard to view the virtual artworks online. Each individual artwork is clickable with a link to each artist's website. This allows the visitors to interact with the art and get to know the artist's name and their works. Also, because the artists are from different countries around the world, we do live Instagram posts so the artist can interact with the show from their countries.
maz: What are the social media handles to find the live posts? And any other information where people can find the art online.
Watch for the Metro Expo Art Train in areas of Miami and Miami Beach from Thursday, Dec. 7 through Saturday, Dec. 9.
Here's the schedule:
- Thursday, Dec. 7 from noon to 5 p.m., Ocean Drive Promenade area, Midtown Miami, 6 to 8 p.m.
- Friday, Dec. 8, noon to 5 p.m., Collins Park Promenade, Miami Beach, then Wynwood, 6 to 8 p.m.
- Saturday, Dec. 9 from 2 to 4 p.m., Miami Design District, then around the Normandy Fountain, Miami Beach, from 4 to 9 p.m.