Itching to get outside on your bike this weekend but also wanting to avoid the crowds? Buffalo Bike Tours and Buffalo Obscura are teaming up for a one-weekend-only socially distant event you won’t want to miss.
Window Shopping: Art Pop-Up is a multiple-venue series of installations taking place at 13 locations across the City of Buffalo. Artists will showcase place-based work created during the COVID-19 pandemic. From 12pm-6pm on both Saturday and Sunday you can stop by Buffalo Bike Tours’ Canalside kiosk (at the corner of Marine & Commercial, on the Commercial Slip), pick up a free map, rent a bike (or bring your own), and be among the first to try food by Tiny Thai.
To preview the event, I conducted a brief interview with Buffalo Obscura members Chris Hawley, Christina Laing, and Molly Jarboe over email. Full disclosure: I am owner of Buffalo Bike Tours, which leads food tours and history tours of Buffalo by bike – check out our full lineup here.
1. Most artists show their work in galleries. Why do you choose the nontraditional format of pop-up events as a medium of community building?
Buffalo Obscura seeks to shine a light on parts of the city and region that are seldom seen and bring the gallery experience to new audiences. This creates an opportunity to showcase unusual and hidden spaces that are often closed off to the general public, and sometimes to help generate ideas about how those spaces might be activated in the future.
2. At our current moment, most brick and mortar businesses are struggling to survive. What are you hoping to do by activating these spaces, even for just a brief time?
Window Shopping: Art Pop Up presents a way for citizens to get out and explore the city and view art safely on their own schedules. Partnering business people and building owners have been supportive of our mission as a collective, and we’re thrilled to work with them on this project. Our hope is that they benefit from this opportunity to engage with viewers and talk about art, Buffalo, and the current state of the world.
3. How has COVID-19 affected your approach to both community building as an arts organization and your personal photography practice?
We had to put our plans for several one-night-only pop up events on hold due to the pandemic and restrictions on large gatherings. Window Shopping: Art Pop Up seemed like a good solution because the installations can be viewed from outside while easily maintaining social distance. Many of the participants altered their practice in order to complete their projects. For example, two participating artists used the Google “street view” feature as a reference to create paintings and sculptures.
4. There are a lot of people looking for hope. What do you see as the silver lining to our current moment?
We have a chance to pause and reflect during this inflection point in the history of our city and country. The art now being installed for Window Shopping: Art Pop Up is a reflection of the times and, perhaps, a small influence in shaping our times at the local scale. We like to see art and our events as a change agent.
5. What is one thing you are personally doing to stay centered during this challenging time?
These events are a labor of love for all three Buffalo Obscura organizers. We each work full time and lead busy lives, and we’re so happy to organize these art pop ups as a passion project.
Hungry For More Self Guided Tours? Check out Bike There, Buffalo!
Be sure to check out my series of blog posts, Bike There, Buffalo! for more great rides of Buffalo you can do on your own. Download the Ride With GPS app, sign up for our free routes, and create your own tour! Stay safe, stay healthy, and, as always, ride…before it snows!
Marc Moscato is proprietor of Buffalo Bike Tours. He lives and works in Buffalo, NY and has been a lifelong bicyclist and local history nut.