When we fall into anticipatory grief, perhaps artists have the best tool to combat it: creating art.
Some of our routines are relatively in place; artists and writers work alone. But with no walk-in audiences, with openings around the globe canceled, with fairs postponed and pocketbooks pinched everywhere—shipping delayed, supplies in short supply—we don’t yet know when we can count on sales and income to begin flowing. As a friend and executive director of one of the nation’s larger community foundations remarked that our society is split in half: half of us are quarantined and straining to learn new ways of communicating, thinking up new projects, Zooming our lives from home; the other half is engaged in the health care world, on the front lines, overwhelmed and completely fried.
Without daily purpose directly related to keeping this virus’ trajectory as flat as it can be, we’re stymied. Most of us are one payment away from being broke. A recent article by the Harvard Business Review focuses on grief; grief is what we are experiencing right now, in all its stages. David Kessler, “the world’s foremost authority on grief,” notes in the article that anticipatory grief—our fear of what might occur in the future—is really anxiety. We have lost our sense of safety.
When we fall into anticipatory grief, perhaps artists have the best tool to combat it: creating art.
We recently checked in with a few artists in the area and the region. Heartfelt gratitude to all the artists who checked in about what’s going on their world and their studios these days!
David Brookover of Brookover Gallery in Jackson, Wyoming says he’s taking a big hit.
“My monthly operational cost is $10,000, and I really don’t see how my small business will get any benefit from the present administration; it’s the price one pays for selling luxury items that are not deemed essential. So I’m looking conservatively at 4-5 months with little to no income as our clients do not buy online. They [at the time of this writing] have suffered 30+% losses from the stock market. (The future) depends on the stock market. When this social distancing is lifted I believe folks will want to get out and enjoy others and go visit places which are all good, but that may not necessarily translate into sales if their stock portfolio, financial situation, and job security are questionable. I’m keeping my fingers crossed but this is going to hurt a lot of pocketbooks; and we all know the art community suffers immensely when that happens.
I’m reading a lot and getting out whenever I feel like it, so that’s a good bi-product. It’s my passion, and being able to do this keeps my spirits high. I’ve not made many new connections, but I’m enjoying my friends in new ways, in a new light.” www.brookovergallery.com
Heaven help us if we run out of cheap vodka!
“I told my husband yesterday, that I don’t t think my life has changed much except for the fact that I can’t find TP and paper towels and workshops I teach might be cancelled,” writes Immel. “My day is much the same as before. I get up, make coffee, have breakfast, shower, go to my studio which is about two miles away, paint until 5:30 or so, think about exercising, drive home, fix dinner with Steve, eat, watch a little TV and read and go to bed..exciting huh? On a VERY exciting day I might go out and plein air paint instead of going to the studio.
And because we both work in some isolation (my husband is a photographer/writer http://www.steveimmelphotography.com/ ) we both like to go out and eat a couple of times a week but now, shucks, that’s out.
On the 6th, 7th & 8th of March I taught a workshop in Santa Fe at Sorrel Sky Gallery where I show my work. And, there was an opening reception there for the Plein Air Painters of New Mexico, Santa Fe Plein Air Fiesta Show the following week, on March 13th.
We had no inkling during the workshop that things were going to be shut down like this but it is moving so quickly that within the week the SFPAF opening had to be closed to the public. It all happened stunningly fast. And now I find that I’m trying to figure out how to teach a workshop online through Zoom in a way that will be as much fun for participants as one taught in person is.
The day to day here in Taos and at Casa Immel is much the same as before but the little spikes of extra excitement in our rather simple life, like eating out or going to an opening or teaching a workshop are gone And we miss them although not as much as we thought. In fact, we are both using the time to catch up on projects we have been putting off. And Im learning new like Zoom, and how to make hand sanitizer at home out of aloe, essential lavender oil and alcohol. And I discovered from someone in the film makeup industry that cheap vodka works pretty well as a sanitizer when rubbing alcohol isn’t available. And heaven help us if we even run out of cheap vodka!”
Alta, Wyoming artist Mona K. Monroe says she’s a true “INFP,” an introverted type, so spending a lot of time in her studio, nestled in the foothills of the West side of the Tetons, is her norm.
“Maybe the call to self-quarantine kind of puts a stamp of approval on it for introverts. It just seems internally quieter, and I find myself trying to go deeper into my work, trying to find connections. I always read. Lewis Hyde’s “The Gift” is now on my Kindle. Good time to bake bread and make soup. I naturally have concern for my family: sons, daughter-in-law, grandson. It’s such a strange time, I’ve said it’s like living in a dystopian novel. I don’t have any predictions. Looking forward to voting in November. It’s now been over a few weeks since I was on a plane coming back from the East Coast. It was a planned a year in advance birthday trip (mine, made all those warnings about elderly people more disconcerting) with artist friends for Armory Week. We were out of the city just before it exploded, and we were anxious. We were SO CAREFUL about hand washing, sanitizing, Lysol wipes, touched no buttons, 2 showers a day, no subways, just walk and a few cabs. We saw the wonderful Art on Paper Show, MOMA and a bit more. Came away with LOTS of inspiration, but a bit of worrying over whether we should have gone. I also visited my childhood home in Connecticut and had a lobster roll (which of course made it all worth it!).” www.monakmonroe.com
I hope we get through this soon. It’s terrible for our economy — really hurting people.
“An exhibit that of course the virus has shut down. I promise the review will be worth reading though,” says Sommers. She’s also applying herself to marketing her work in ways she’s been too distracted to do up until now. Her work is becoming more accessible on line, and she’s booting up her social media presence.
“I hope I gain better marketing habits from this. I’ve pushed updates to some degree in the past, but I told myself I was too busy to do more, and it wasn’t necessary … It may not make any difference, but I won’t know unless I try. And oh yeah, studio time! Who needs to scavenge for groceries anyway? I hope we get through this soon. It’s terrible for our economy — really hurting people.” www.suesommers.com
Victor, Idaho painter Susan M. Rose is feeling deeply saddened for her fellow artists taking hard hits. She and her husband are comfortable, and she does not need to make a living with her painting; but she’s a driven artist. Show cancellations are spirit depleting.
“Two shows that I have been doing a great deal of work for have been cancelled, my painting for the Land Conservancy of West Michigan. It is a struggle, but I can pay my bills and put food on the table. The owner of the gallery of one of my shows in Boise, Idaho, has already laid off employees. So I am working with the galleries to put work online, and we will see how that goes.
It’s difficult to paint when my heart isn’t in it, and it takes a great deal of meditating to get up to it.”
Jackson’s Kay Stratman learned a new skill when she created her catalog of paintings for a canceled show at Colorado’s Raitman Art Galleries using Flipsnack. She received many heartwarming responses to the book, and it was her primary goal to provide followers with an armchair art show, viewing images of nature she created.
An artist needs an audience, she writes. Just making sure that people could see the work somehow felt good, and she’s crossing her fingers for a rescheduling of the exhibit.
I suppose that luxury items are the first to go, but being an artist isn’t simply about income – it’s what we do no matter what.
“Another angle is that artists, being self employed, don’t get unemployment. I have a brother and sister in law who are artists traveling the art show circuit in the south in the winter,” says Stratman. “Their sales were down 80% from last year (which they attributed to election worries) and when the coronavirus became a nationwide health issue, all of the rest of their shows were cancelled. They had to return home to Minnesota with no clear income for the future. I think that as we come out of this with our wants and needs prioritized the artist community may take a hit. I suppose that luxury items are the first to go, but being an artist isn’t simply about income – it’s what we do no matter what.
Perhaps we will find a market in smaller, more affordable works? I think that there may be a number of funds out there for artists who need them….I researched funding sources for artists in light of the coronavirus closures, and there were a number of listings, though I didn’t dive down the rabbit hole of reading all of them. A “reluctant” social media user, Stratman has been honing her skills. Her dog, Lucky, is getting a lot of extra walks, which gets Stratman outside. We are very fortunate, she observes, to live where we do, especially now. We have this environment to comfort us, beautiful mountains and wildlife surrounding us.” www.kaystratman.com
For myself, it was deeply disappointing to have to cancel April plans to travel to Utah. St. George’s Illume Gallery’s “New Vision 2020” plein air paint out, show and sale was, as so many shows have been, canceled. But the show is on line, and features plein air artists familiar to our region. You can view the show here!
Friend (and mentor) Stephen C. Datz is participating in the event. His small work, above, depicts a scene near his home in Fruita, Colorado.
“The whole valley north of I-70 here is farm and ranch land, and the back roads here have provided a lot of inspiration over the years. This is my favorite kind of subject – just a lucky happenstance, being in the right place at the right time as the sun goes down over groves and meadows on a midwinter evening, and watching the leafless trees and snow take on fantastic colors you can only see at this time of year and day,” says Datz.
Plein air is so crucial to our environment’s well being. Plein air tells us again and again that Nature is our provider, our Mother, our source of Peace. Don’t forget to check your favorite artists’ Instagram profiles to see what’s new!
CONGRATULATIONS TO TARYN BOALS AND TRAVIS WALKER ON THEIR ENGAGEMENT! YOU ARE THE CUTEST! WISHING YOU JOY AND LOVE THE REST OF YOUR DAYS!
Last week the federal government passed a huge spending bill ($2 trillion), the CARES Act, meant to help steady Americans suffering financial losses (who isn’t?) in the time of Coronavirus. A portion of that money is targeted for the arts. Artnet News columnist Tom Schneider penned a piece breaking down the good and the “good luck” of the relief package. A few bullet points follow.
- Of the $300m targeted for the arts, $125m will go to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the network of Institute of Museum and Library Services.
- $150m will be split between the NEA and the National Endowment for the Humanities.
- By comparison, Germany’s arts relief package totals $54 billion.
- All you need to be eligible for the $1,200 personal relief check is to have filed your income tax return for 2018 and/or 2019.
- Eligibility for Artists: Anyone in the art world, or anyone “…laid off since the start of the crisis or furloughed by an employer that was forced to temporarily close (think: galleries, museums, other nonprofits). But for the first time, freelancers and gig workers can also qualify through a special emergency provision, opening up the program to a whole host of ad-hoc art installers, studio assistants, and others.”
Read the entire article here.