Local Artist to Set Up Drive-By Gallery

Story by Pat Forrest, Photos by Janet Skates

It should not surprise any of us that creative folks tend to get even more creative when faced with challenges. 

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit a year ago, performers and other artists began to look for other ways to connect with their audiences. Drive-in and drive-by events began to grow in popularity. Toronto’s The Immersive Van Gogh Exhibit offered Gogh by Car beginning last May, one of the first to offer vehicle-based art experiences during COVID. It was a huge hit and many others have followed suit. 

Here in Thunder Bay, local artist Manuela Wedow of riklan designs got her inspiration for a local drive-by art event from farther afield. “The idea of a drive-by art gallery came from a post by another artist on Instagram,” she says. ”Janet Skates from Tulsa, Oklahoma, posted a picture of her front yard art gallery back in spring of 2020, when they had to pivot and deal with COVID-19. I saw her picture, fell in love with the concept, and thought this would be a wonderful event to have here in Thunder Bay. I’m all about artists supporting artists, so I decided to organize it.”

The TBay Drive-by Art Gallery is rapidly taking shape and is scheduled for the last three Saturdays of July. People can expect to see paintings, photographs, drawings, and sculptures on display in front yards throughout the community. They will have the opportunity to meet the artists and ask questions. Artists will be tasked with designing their front yard galleries to reflect themselves as artists. They can play music, have a raffle, or possibly offer art-related merchandise for sale as well. Each artist will be responsible for following COVID-19 safety guidelines.

“I want this to be fun, very laid-back, and a great opportunity for artists to show and sell their artwork.  We are creators, all of us,” Wedow says. “Art has a magical way of bringing people’s hearts closer together.”

Artists interested in participating are asked to contact Manuela Wedow for details at riklandesigns@gmail.com. Registration takes place between June 1 and June 15, and the fee for artists to participate will be $20. Attendance for the public will be free. Event dates, a full listing of the artists, and how to find them, along with other details, will be announced on TBay Drive-by Art Gallery on Facebook. You can also find Janet Skates on Instagram at @janetskatesart.