SEPTEMBER PANDEMIC BLOG POST #1
What I am and am not doing during the pandemic:
Initially I was unable to create any new artwork. I did however have three computer disks which had encaustic abstracts painted on each side. They had been sitting in a drawer for nearly a year. My concept had been to create some kind of mobile with them but I had gotten no further than painting the disks. For some reason I was able to work through the logistics of how to create the mobile, even though I couldn’t tap into my creativity when it came to painting. I found an old maple branch in the woods that I refinished as the support and used wire, chain, and clasps, from a decades old jewelry project. It took time and several attempts to make it all work together. Perhaps being in a different frame of mind allowed me to focus on the construction aspect as opposed to the kind of inspiration I needed for painting. I have begun to paint again and perhaps I’ll try another mobile down the road.
Silver linings of the pandemic for me have been the possibility to slow my life down and rest in place. I went through the early stages of despair for the sick, dying and hospital workers prompting me to sew masks and create a prayer flag. Then I realized that I could best serve the community by not becoming part of the problem and stay safe for my husband and kids. April brought hope with signs of spring and the early flush of pastels on the trees. Nature called me to work in my yard and then others. I offered my love of hacking back invasive plants to multiple neighbors, old and young. This helped my sanity and pulled me away from watching the constant denials of our central government from seeing the seriousness of the pandemic. Human life was being made subservient to making money and ‘keeping the economy numbers high’.
My art tended toward vivid colors, perhaps an expression of anger and hope. I learned to be inventive in the kitchen making soups and leftover meals. Cooking was never joyful for me but now that I had to cook and feed the two of us every night I buckled down and experimented. Turned a picky eater into an appreciative diner due to lack of alternatives.
I made a dress for myself when the weather turned hot from old leftover fabric. Not having sewn since my adolescence I was grateful to YouTube demos. Never knew what bias tape was for!
This pandemic and the resurgence of the urgency of our nation to respect black lives has reminded me to be kind everyday even if it is a smile to a stranger. Marching in a local protest was affirming. Recommending with success that our local book club read Water Dancer and Born a Crime are some of my steps towards awareness. I know I am incredibly privileged to not have to breath foul air from plastic factories or worry about being arrested for the color of my skin.
My concern for the health of the earth is unabated if not more so, despite Covid 19. May we come out of these strange times with renewed courage to give up what we don’t need such as plastic and new stuff. Will we ever feel free to hug each other again?
I live in the woods by a lake in Central Maine. I am an artist and Judaic studies teacher. My tree house studio is 20 feet from my tiny home and that’s where I work most days pre-Covid and during. I have a small germ pod, husband, a single Mom daughter and grandson Dolev. Dolev and I spend a lot of time together particularly since March and Covid arrived. We’ve become even closer as our germ pod narrowed!
Dolev and I have explored the forest surrounding us, looking for anything interesting we can find and usually have a few treasures to return home with! I am my grandsons spiritual and nature teacher. We talk about how trees grow and how they communicate with each other under the ground in the forest. We watch flowers open and wither in my beautiful garden. On Friday, the Jewish Sabbath we go out into the garden and pick the prettiest flower, just one, to put on our sabbath table. We make challah, (a sabbath bread) together and I make a small one for Dolev and always hide a surprise in it for him later to find. We talk about love and tenderness, sun and rain god and energy. We take kayak trips together on Maranacook lake. He sits on my lap and navigates. Together we explore the edges of the water. We have seen painted turtles, frogs, geese, loons, nests, osprey, eagles and jumping fish. My husband likes to rough house and chase and play games with Dolevi. He adores his Zaida more than life itself! Dolev of course loves to visit me in my studio. He loves to paint with me but most of all he loves those purple latex gloves! I started out as a Bubbie morphed into Bubba and now at 3 and a half years old I am Bubs to Dolev.
I also operate a small gallery, galleryinreadfield.com, that has been on line since March shut down. I help artists exhibit and sell their work and I do this from a place of commitment to community. I help community members find an art piece they love and can afford. I help artists set up a solo show and get the work up and out of their studio. It’s a bit of work, I don’t take any money. It’s a commission free gallery. During Covid while work is on line I created a garden in front of the gallery to keep the space beautiful! It’s a gift to this tiny region I find myself in at this time of my life. My own work has shifted towards politics a bit during these challenging times we live in, but mostly I work with my beautiful surroundings that I feel so blessed to be in.
This first image is a response to Black lives matter movement with a quote from Leviticus. ‘Do not stand on the blood of your neighbor. Do not go about telling tales among your nation’
We all respond to our work from our own history.
Exhibiting during a pandemic:
I shared an exhibition with a friend this August at the Five Points Gallery Annex in Torrington, CT. Here’s how it was different than past experiences.
1. No opening
2. Limited entry – only 12 individuals were allowed in at one time, people waited in their cars to enter – well, actually only one person
3. Limited access – the gallery and neighboring gallery was open to the public three days a week due to the pandemic
It worked out well. We had good attendance in a steady flow on the few open days. We also had good sales. This had more to do with or guest list than with the location of the gallery. Everyone wore masks. We kept the doors and bathroom cleaned, offered small bottles of water and wrapped snacks. Even with my expectations low I would call this exhibit a great success. And so far, no one has gotten sick – although it’s only been a week.
One day the feeling of being trapped in this pandemic made me so angry that I went to the studio, took a full sheet of heavy Murillo paper and basically threw paint at it. It is titled “GRR” – and I felt much better after I finished it. 38″x 29″, Mixed water media.
DONA MARA FRIEDMAN:
After agreeing to have a solo exhibition more than a year ago, the decision to go forward during the pandemic was left up to me by Southern Vermont Art Center. They had opened again to the public with necessary precautions after being closed for months. I had prepared a number of new paintings so decided to give it a try.
The opening was on August 22 from 3 to 5 with masks, one way direction through the galleries and limited numbers of viewers allowed in. It went well considering but I found it Exhausting as it was very difficult to converse. It told me how much we rely on watching a person’s face for expression and mouths especially, in social situations.
It is taking me time and effort to adjust to what is our new order and hopefully not the future forever so I called the exhibit “Hanging On.“
“I completed a series of small sculptures (10″-21”) of encaustic on fiber clay this summer. Submitted to the IEA virtual show titled “Vignettes in Words & Wax”. Won the Jurors Award for “0ur Lady of the Recycling Center”. The show “opens” next month in the Fall edition of Wax Fusion magazine.