MERIDEN — Apollo Maldonado recently closed the doors at his downtown pop up art gallery, the Artists Colony, but found a way to continue his business with a mobile digital art studio.
“I am not going to let a virus destroy my entire business,” Maldonado said. “Some (businesses) are never going to be able to open up ever again. I am not going to be one of those people because I am very versatile when it comes to my businesses.”
Since creating his original business plan, Maldonado has always been interested in converting a school bus into a mobile studio. He is about halfway done with the conversion. Star ceiling panels have already been added.
“I put up a star ceiling so now all you see while you are sitting down is stars,” he said. “It twinkles… The whole bus is going to be powered by a free energy generator that I designed and built. I don’t have to worry about solar, I don’t have to worry about a gas generator that makes noise.”
Drawing enough people to maintain a storefront can be challenging for an art studio. Going mobile will eliminate that issue, said Dave Cooley, a volunteer helping the downtown arts community.
“It was a challenge prior to the pandemic getting a large number of people to come to his studio,” Cooley said. “... By being able to bring the studio to the party … it’s a lot more flexible obviously.
“He’s done a good job pivoting this pandemic to create this new idea which nobody else has which is something he has been good at,” Cooley added. “He’s always been ahead of the curve coming up with new ideas.”
Maldonado will offer “art parties” for up to six people. He is hoping to “have families engage in something they’ve never done before.”
“The whole bus is going to be sanitary,” Maldonado said. “It’s going to be a sanitized environment.”
By being mobile and safe, Maldonado hopes to continue creating a therapeutic art experience for his customers.
“I don’t have to worry about rent, I don’t have to worry about utilities, I don’t have to worry about losing my spot — I go to people,” Maldonado said.
Maldonado wants to have this mobile art studio finished by the end of the month. He hopes to inspire other artists.
“There’s a lot of opportunities out there for artists and they just have to find it,” Maldonado said. “A lot of artists think, they have this mindset that in order to be an artist, you have to be poor. In order to create and get known, you have to suffer...We have access to so many resources that we didn’t have twenty years ago...So I’m just hoping that something like this whole experience will be able to inspire some artists.”