City-Wide Art Show a Huge Hit 

Story by Sara Sadeghi Aval, Photos courtesy of Manula Wedow

For Manuela Wedow, the days of floor-to-ceiling glass window galleries and formal settings are long gone. The future lies in drive-by galleries. That’s right, drive-by. As part of the second annual Thunder Bay Drive-By Art Gallery tour, Wedow has been working diligently to register artists, network in the community, and encourage artists of all skill levels, while ensuring the tour remains free for the public to enjoy. 

The idea started when Wedow saw an Instagram post from a woman in Tulsa, Oklahoma whose gallery exhibit had been cancelled due to the pandemic, so she collected her artwork and displayed it in her yard. Wedow was quickly inspired to bring the idea to Thunder Bay. Last year, over 50 artists signed up to share their art in their front and backyards, and this year, even garages. “Often, for gallery exhibits, an artist must carry their collection, and damage occurs. We want to protect the artwork and the artists,” Wedow says. “And for gallery exhibits, the artist must suit the gallery.” The comfort of displaying art at home eliminates that.

Many of the participants are not full-time artists, but are what Wedow refers to as “closet artists,” or individuals whose hidden talents are worthy of an audience. By allowing these artists the opportunity to set up in their own homes and authentic environments, Wedow is fostering a community of encouragement and comfort. “I want to shine a light on all our artists, and I want them to feel comfortable. Our youngest participant is 11 years old. Once people join our Facebook group, they stay,” she says.

Wedow herself is an artist, and founder of Riklan Designs. She maintains that she has evolved through her artwork and “became the person she is today.” Her involvement in community art classes from local mentors gave her the same motivation and encouragement she is hoping to impart to these up-and-coming artists.

This year’s groups have been allowed to team up, with five artists allowed per lawn. Wedow has found that after introducing this rule, artists have been networking and meeting each other more naturally, opening doors for each other in the art world or simply supporting one another in what is perhaps their first show. 

Once the City of Thunder Bay heard about Wedow’s endeavour, they collaborated with the Thunder Bay Tours app to guide drivers to each artist’s location. Wedow has separated shows on the north and south sides of the city on different days to accommodate drivers and artists who would like to see work they otherwise would not have the chance to. June, July, and August will each have their set of shows. “There are so many craft shows and tables in town, and it’s difficult for painters, especially large-scale painters, to fit in, and I wanted something just for the artists,” Wedow says. Once registration is complete, those interested in the tour can find artist bios, pictures, and locations on the Tours app, making it a perfectly curated show for you. 

“All we ask is you come out and show some love,” Wedow says. 

To register as an artist or find out more information, email