Drive-Thru Art in a COVID-19 World

Friendship and art continue to flourish during the pandemic.

Friendship and art continue to flourish during the pandemic.

Vicki Baker

In this time of COVID-19, it’s difficult to find places where friends can engage in a pandemic-forced socially distanced and isolating environment. Girls on Wheels discovered the perfect opportunity to experience art and culture for the first time in over a year—Aurora’s innovative “Area 3″, where 100,000 square feet of parking garage in downtown Dallas was transformed into a socially distanced, contact-free way to view art from the safety of our car.

We cruised into the Commerce Street parking garage, then circled up three floors to the start of the show. We immediately met a greenery-filled entrance where bright fluorescent lights were dimmed to a humming blue, purple, green, and red neon. We were immersed in light, color, and sound—artistic features from regional artists—all intended to be seen in motion.

Taking careful twists and turns up the ramps with the car lights off, we found a surprise at every corner with an unpredictable array of installations. Layer after layer of fringed curtain with illuminated messages felt like driving through a psychedelic car wash, a collection of tennis balls rumbling in dryers on spin cycle, a Dia de Los Muertos alter, a bright red field of screens containing images of faces with piercing white eyes, and a film transporting us into the outer galaxies.

If someone had told us a year ago that a drive-thru exhibit would be the hottest art show in town, we’d be skeptical, to say the least. Yet, unusual times called for unusual circumstances. Area 3 doubled-down on the pandemic hand it was dealt and offered Girls on Wheels an unmissable experience for a brief, yet sweet, escape from artless isolation.

Venturing into a dark downtown building to find an immersive art event reminded Girls on Wheels that we can find happiness in the darkest corners. We take in beauty where we can find it, even if it is in passing, even rolling at five miles per hour.