The Arts Scene: Shelter-in-place art benefits food bank

On March 27, Michelle Wyles wrote a letter to friends of the Boxx Gallery in Tieton: “What would you think of a challenge to make art around the idea of shelter-in-place?” She realized this could be thought of as containment, self-directed quarantine, “or maybe lots and lots (and lots) of time at home. Let’s try this!”

Her thought was, “We are all stuck at home, stressed, and we need a positive goal of creativity and to express ourselves. The shelter-in-place theme begs for ideas. We have such great artists in our Valley and they are itching to have a reason to get in their studios, express their angst, play with the drama in their heads and lose themselves in their inspiration.”

Her challenge to artists was to make something, write something, sing something, video something or do “whatever your heart directs you to do. All around the shelter-in-place theme.”

The result was an online exhibit on Instagram under the username “friends_of_boxx_gallery.” I have been watching it daily, and now it seems there are postings coming in more rapidly.

Wyles told me, “As they always do, these men and women delight me, surprise and challenge me. We all benefit by who and what they are. Boxx Gallery has been a place for community, social interaction and expression. Even during a pandemic, Boxx Gallery is a little gallery with a big heart.”

Proceeds from the Boxx Gallery have always gone to the Highland Food Bank, and as a result of the online exhibit and a recent request, it has received more than $3,000 in donations. Wyles wrote in one email that “the food bank has been super busy, as you can imagine, and trying to keep up with demand. Paige Matson, the manager, is doing most of the work herself with help from her husband. They’re giving away between 120 and 135 boxes per week.”

For all the artists and supporters, Michelle says, “I hope you are home; puttering, reading, researching, whatever brings you joy and peace.” For local artists, it is a time to express feelings through art and share on Instagram.

• David Lynx is executive director of the Larson Gallery at Yakima Valley College. Learn more at

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