Rigorous Covid-19 protocols were enforced for the safety of guests, staff and artists. Photo by Heidi Randhava

The Evanston Art and Big Fork Festival returned this year as an artful, mindful and socially distanced Art Walk featuring a smaller, carefully curated group of artists.

Hosted by Amdur Productions in collaboration with the City of Evanston, the seventh annual Evanston Art Walk was open on Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 22 and 23,  from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Church Street and Sherman Avenue.

Twenty-five featured artists showcased distinctive paintings, dazzling jewelry, sculpture, photographs and fashion wearables including an array of fabric face coverings to protect against the spread of coronavirus.

The event drew a steady flow of attendees, many of whom reserved one-hour time slots in advance. A separate entrance was for walk-up visitors who stood two arms’ length apart, waiting patiently in line for an available time-slot, with twenty-five people admitted at a time.

“The artists have reported huge support from the public, and people are buying. The message that we had before the show was that independent artists are microbusinesses, and they need support now more than ever. The public is really responding, and I have to say they’ve been just a pleasure to work with. Every single person has come in with a face covering, and everyone has followed the plan. It’s been very pleasant. We [Amdur Production staff] walk around with extra masks in case anyone needs one,” said Amdur Productions President and CEO Amy Amdur in a conversation with the RoundTable.

The art events production company enforced rigorous Covid-19 protocols to make the Art Walk a safe and enjoyable outdoor experience for artists, guests and staff.

“We did a lot of research on how to do this,” Ms. Amdur said. She pointed to staff member Noel Garcia, who took the temperature of each attendee prior to entering the designated Art Walk area, which was limited this year to the stretch of Church Street between Sherman and Benson avenues.

“We take temperatures, and we do it on the wrist because it’s more accurate when people are out in the sun, than doing it on their forehead, which gets hot. We have unidirectional travel, which you can see by the arrows. Signage reminds people that face coverings are required, that you have to be six feet from other people who are not in your group. The other sign says only one group or person at a time in a booth,” said Ms. Amdur.

Registered attendees and walk-up guests provided contact information such as an email address, “so we have the ability to contact them, in case we ever need to,” said Ms. Amdur.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lists “community settings” as key information to collect for contact tracing in interviews of patients diagnosed with Covid-19. Those who may have been exposed at an event or activity can then be informed, and health information can be provided to prevent further spread of the novel coronavirus.

In addition to the mask and social distancing requirements, “every 30-40 feet, we have another sanitizing station, and artists have sanitizing gel. So we’re really happy with the event,” said Ms. Amdur.

“Everyone around has been happy, too. They’re glad to be out and doing something,” said Mr. Garcia.

Scientists and everyday citizens alike are in agreement that many Americans are suffering from varying degrees of coronavirus burnout and pandemic fatigue. Although the 2020 Evanston Art Walk did not include the live entertainment, food and kids activities that in past years have drawn hordes of residents and visitors to Evanston’s summer festivals, the event was no less festive. This year’s event offered a welcome respite for pandemic-weary residents and guests. Individuals cooperated and collaborated with the safety and comfort of others in mind.

“People were very supportive,” said Mr. Garcia.

Heidi Randhava is an award winning reporter who has a deep commitment to community engagement and service. She has written for the Evanston RoundTable since 2016.