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Helen Murdock-Prep lined her lawn with easels on Saturday morning, containing canvases with splashes of watercolor and depictions of animals, fruit and starry skies. She invited neighbors and family to come and see what she called her “drive-by museum.”
The Huntington resident, a professional artist and theater educator, recently noticed how often she’s been staring at screens during her weeks of isolation at home.
“This happened so quickly,” said Murdock-Prep. “We were all just taken by surprise, and as an artist I always go to my art to heal. This time I went to my art to inspire.”
Murdock-Prep said her art was supposed to be shown at The Knox School in St. James this month. Because that event was canceled, she wanted to find another way to display her paintings, which had been “framed and ready to go.” Murdock-Prep borrowed some easels from friends and The Firefly Artists gallery in Northport, where some of her work is displayed.
She said her goal was for anyone interested in seeing the museum to take their time driving by and observe the art from their cars. Anyone who wanted to purchase a painting could arrange a “curbside pickup” with Murdock-Prep.
“All of the art is for sale, but that’s not really the emphasis here,” she said. “People with kids in the car aren’t going to want to get out and traipse onto my lawn. We’re keeping social distancing in mind; I don’t want to draw a crowd, so that’s why it’s a drive-by museum.”
In addition to her watercolor paintings, Murdock-Prep displayed painted wooden furniture and stones with her calligraphy. She also took requests for words or names to write on the stones to sell that day.
Murdock-Prep also created an “artist booth” to sit in during the museum's hours — drawing inspiration from Lucy’s “psychiatric help” setup where she often analyzed Charlie Brown, in the "Peanuts" comic strip. Murdock-Prep used some cardboard in her garage to assemble the same concept, but with “The artist is in” written across the bottom.
“We knew it would make people happy to see that,” she said.
Murdock-Prep said the museum was a “wonderful time” and got a steady turnout of passersby throughout the day, from neighbors walking by with their dogs to people pulling up in cars. She was able to sell some of her prints, as well, and hopes to do this again featuring the work of some of her fellow artist friends.
“Have you noticed that when you have something scheduled, your whole day is centered on that?” Murdock-Prep said. “That’s why I wanted to do this. It’s great to have something to attach to your day.”