To work around the difficulties of hosting an art show during the pandemic, local artists Klaire Lockheart and Aaron Packard hosted the 2021 Packard Group National Exhibition as a drive-in event.
The event was the second of its kind. Lockheart conceived the idea of the exhibition last year when she decided the area didn’t have enough exhibition opportunities.
“I thought it would be fun to put together a national exhibition, so that way artists all over the country could participate,” Lockheart said.
Rather than have people walk through an exhibition space to see the artwork, the two had artists submit pictures of their art, which were then rear-projected onto a screen at Packard’s studio, No. 7 Center.
The two took a similar approach to the reception of the previous exhibition, which was intended to be physical but was switched to the drive-in movie.
“(The studio) has this really big front window,” Packard said. “Once the sun goes down, you get this really great view. There’s some good parking and some nice walking right past there, just off Main Street, so it worked. We had some people in convertibles last year that pulled up and stayed for a while, and then other people who bicycled in.”
Lockheart said last year’s exhibition had about 30 entries, while this year’s had 133. In addition to promoting the event on social media, she said she contacted every state’s arts council to put out calls for submissions.
The only rule for submissions was that they must be 8-by-10 inches or smaller, which was originally established when Lockeart and Packard intended for artists to mail their work for the exhibition.
“It brings a much cheaper shipping element to everything, and a much easier method of them returning work as well,” Packard said. “It’s also somewhat of a trend in the last number of years, this… style of show, where it’s somewhat termed a ‘mail-in’ show.”
In curating the event, Lockheart said she likes the idea of art shows where artists can get in if they follow basic submission rules, and that the Packard Exhibition is a nice way to be inclusive and bring art to Vermillion. Additionally, artists were not charged a fee for entering the exhibition.
“I have this exhibition open to anybody in the United States, so I have professional artists, I have students and I have everyone in between,” Lockheart said. “A lot of people have told me this is their first professional art exhibition… and that’s why I want to make it as easy and as friendly as possible.”
Next year, the two hope to host a physical exhibition, but the 2021 show can still be viewed digitally at Lockheart’s website.
“This year, (the exhibition) was really about honoring artists and keeping the budget as low as possible to not stick them with any extra expenses,” Lockheart said.