As Madison and the world adapts to the restrictions of safer at home orders to stem the spread of COVID-19, an art exhibit at the Garver Feed Mill is designed for our new reality.

Outside Looking In: A Drive-Thru Exhibition is an evocative and artistically diverse exhibit featuring the work of 18 artists. The tone of the works, most of which peek out from Garver’s tall windows, ranges from lighthearted to sincere. And the variety of mediums is impressive. Try viewing the art at different times. What you see at night is different from broad daylight, and Garver is an architectural gem that is already worth a look.

Driving in from Fair Oaks Avenue, you’ll encounter a spirit-lifting peacock light sculpture reminiscent of Olbrich’s GLEAM or Olin Park’s Holiday Fantasy in Lights. It was created and donated by the National Electrical Contractors Association and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 159.

The next highlight is a trio of wacky sculptures titled “Failed Mascots” by Actual Size Artworks ([Professors of Sculpture] Gail Simpson and Aris Georgiades). The works re-combine plaster seals, a plastic pony and a Paul Bunyan head to create absurdist mashups.

Some particularly good nighttime views are Thomas Ferrella and Aaron Granat’s abstract video projections. Jenie Gao’s textile fish swim across several windows. Another stunner is Adriana Barrios’ [MFA ’19] projection of ocean waves that shines out from the arched front entrance to the building. It combines videos recorded from her drone and a live feed camera off the coast of San Diego, California. Barrios says she was excited to participate after finding the call for art on Facebook. “The concept of the exhibit was motivating for me especially now with all art spaces in Madison being temporarily closed. I jumped at the opportunity to make art that I could share with the city of Madison,” Barrios says in an email. “Also, Garver is such a beautiful and unique space. When I saw the arched doorway I knew exactly what I could do with it.”

She describes her piece as “a witness to human activity, loss and beauty.”

For this viewer, the piece that packs the most emotional punch is from [Professor of Glassworking] Helen Lee, who runs the UW-Madison Glass Lab. Her art shines out of one of the windows like a beacon, reading “Haven’t you always wondered what it would finally take to stop us in our tracks.”

Read at the Isthmus