Drive-By Art Exhibition Provides Socially Distanced Dose of Culture

Fifty-two artists participated in the Long Island event

Toni Ross and Sara Salway
The "Drive-By-Art" exhibition featured roadside sculptures, live performances, video projections, paintings and other works of art. Courtesy of Drive-By-Art

With museums and galleries around the world closed due to COVID-19, millions are missing their usual sources of art, history and culture. Luckily, myriad online exhibitions, tours and experiences have sprung up in recent months to help fill the gap. One of the more out-of-the-box offerings took place in April, when Berlin artists transformed their balconies into miniature art galleries. Now, a drive-by exhibition held on the South Fork of Long Island has continued the innovative trend, enabling locals to view art while maintaining social distancing measures, reports Wallace Ludel for the Art Newspaper.

The show, titled “Drive-By-Art (Public Art in This Moment of Social Distancing),” took place last weekend. Featuring works by 52 artists, the event served as “an outdoor public art exhibition … experienced from the safety and intimacy of one’s own automobile,” according to its official description. Art on view included roadside sculptures, live performances, videos projected onto the sides of buildings and paintings installed within the natural landscape.

“My intention with Drive-By-Art is to create a platform for experiencing artistic works in the public sphere brought on by the new realities of COVID-19,” artist and exhibition organizer Warren Neidich tells the Art Newspaper. “In our present situation, overwhelmed by the digital and remote condition, the question for me became: How could I use the concept of social distancing as a means to reinvent artistic pleasure? How could I find a new vocabulary to intensify the poetic voice of artistic practice above the din and cacophony of fear that suffocates us.”

Bastienne Schmidt, Grids and Threads Courtesy of Drive-By-Art
Elena Bajo, Respirations Per Minute Courtesy of Drive-By-Art
Joan Jonas, Six Feet. A Distancing Device. Driftwood. Courtesy of Drive-By-Art
Steven Neidich, Silent Spring Courtesy of Drive-By-Art

Among the diverse slate of artists who participated in the project were Toni Ross, Eric Fischl, Jeremy Dennis, Saskia Friedrich, Philippe Cheng, Sally Egbert, Ryan Wallace, Laurie Lambrecht, Alice Hope, Bryan Hunt, Clifford Ross, Christine Sciulli, Darius Yektai and Almond Zigmund, reports Jennifer Landes for the East Hampton Star.

All of the participating artists live and work on the South Fork of Long Island. They installed their works at or near their homes and studios, according to the Art Newspaper. An online map detailing the various installations’ locations covers neighborhoods from Hampton Bay to Montauk.

Stacey Stowe of the New York Times reports that skies were blue during the event, but with strong winds blowing, most visitors heeded the call to view the works from the safety of their cars. Others came on foot or by bike.

Some installations interacted playfully with their newfound environs.

Jeremy Dennis installed wooden silhouettes pasted with images of buildings and a 1970 meeting between Elvis and President Richard M. Nixon.

Sculptor Monica Banks’ steel wool octopuses crawled across her house’s hedges.

Eric Fischl positioned a series of life-size sculptures titled Young Dancers Dancing in the midst of a sparse woodland at his home in Sag Harbor.

Other pieces centered squarely on the stark realities of social distancing in the time of COVID-19.

Dianne Blell’s Table for Two/Separate Tables dangled a chandelier from a tree branch above a socially distanced restaurant meal.

In Wainscott, Toni Ross and daughter Sara Salaway placed a group of folding chairs in front of a fence. Standing six feet apart, each chair featured dates and words marking the passage of time in isolation.

Joan Jonas presented a solitary piece of driftwood painted to demarcate the recommended six feet of distance needed to prevent infection.

Participating East Hampton artist Suzanne Anker, founder of the Bio-Art Laboratory at the School of Visual Arts in New York, tells the Times that she joined the show to give people something to see and do with museums and galleries closed.

“It’s a unique treasure trove where you follow the clues, see the art and see where artists live,” she says. “There is a whole diversity of places and the kind of intimacy that you don’t typically get to experience.”

Neidich is currently planning a similar drive-by exhibition in Los Angeles. The event is scheduled for Memorial Day weekend.

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