Last September 2019, Vice Mayor Alanna Mallon came to my Open Studio event, purchased a large giclée print, and kindly mentioned my work and promoted Cambridge Open Studios on her podcast shortly thereafter. She has been an advocate for the arts in many ways but this was one way I was affected personally by her commitment and affinity for the arts community.
On July 21, 2020, Vice Mayor Mallon wrote an op-ed piece on the arts for the Cambridge Chronicle, stating that "... (the arts industry) infused $2 billion into Boston's economy in 2019 and draws in 21 million attendees each year -- more than the Boston Red Sox, New England Patriots, Boston Bruins, and Celtics combined."
She also gave an urgent charge: "If we want to emerge from this public health crisis with the arts community that enriches our lives, lifts our spirits, and sustains our Main Street economy, we must act now."
I, too, encourage you to "act now," as Vice Mayor Mallon asserts! But you may be wondering how to actually do that, given the fact that many arts events and venues are closed, at least until we can reach Phase Four in Massachusetts. And "the arts" is a very broad term, encompassing everything from art hobbies to non-profit organizations, to fine art museums, to community theater and more.
I've made a short list focused on professional visual artists and associated groups since this is my field and I have some knowledge of what is helpful.
Here are a few ways you can act now:
• Empty walls? Purchase artwork from living artists, whether directly or through a gallery. Most galleries and many artists have websites with e-commerce capabilities. Don't wait for the next champagne reception; sadly, those won't be happening anytime soon.
• Value arts that serve the community? Donate to a non-profit arts organization you know and like.
• Love learning? Buy a class package from an artist or arts center (resist the temptation to binge on YouTube freebies if you can afford a class!).
• A fan or follower? Buy a subscription to your favorite artists' online content on platforms such as Patreon or Kickstarter. This is a collective way to value the work of talented artists in the genres you like. Encourage your friends to do the same.
• Miss seeing art in person? Visit the galleries that are now open by appointment for strictly limited numbers of guests. Galleries during the daytime hours are places for quiet viewing and you're not supposed to touch anything anyways! If you're OK venturing out (masked of course), go to your local galleries.
• A voter? Contact your state representatives and senators, and urge them to take immediate action to fund more recovery for the arts.
Don't wait! Just like ordering takeout from your favorite restaurants helps them survive the pandemic, buying a small piece or a modest subscription from an artist today is no small thing. We artists want to get to the other side of this crisis with you, and though many of us work alone, we can't do it alone.
I thank all my Patreon patrons, collectors, clients, subscribers, and followers for purchases and words of gratitude and comfort during such a strange time for all of us. I hope that, in turn, my artwork and others' art helps YOU to keep going. Many thanks to Vice Mayor Alanna Mallon and others for reminding us of a way we all can make a positive difference in our world right now.
April 20, 2020 (during COVID-19 pandemic)
The format of small still life is different for me, a challenge I took up during this time of change in my schedule and a new perspective.
When the pandemic took hold in my local community in mid-March, I thought I'd switch gears and focus on a smaller scale project. I didn't know if I'd be able to continue to get to the studio regularly (I do, but less often), if I or someone in my household might get sick (we haven't), or if my spring gallery show would get cancelled (it did).
This practice of focusing on one small piece at a time has been helpful to me when everything looked suddenly uncertain. An interesting thing that happened along the way was that as I painted these tiny pieces of broken shells in the confined dimensions of small canvases, I thought about how we too are confined in small places. Yet there is beauty, almost a meditative and abstracted beauty, in each small world of each broken piece of shell.
Days have turned to weeks. Our family is now on week 6 of the stay-at-home advisory. I am able to continue to go to my two studios on reduced hours. When I do go to either studio, which are both my own private rented spaces, I keep up the practice of mask-wearing, disinfecting, and social distancing, though I usually do not run into anyone else when I venture out.
As many of you know, in addition to making art my livelihood, I am a mother of two big kids who are doing school at home now, and I'm also the wife of a busy school administrator. Making sure to be a presence and a support to the kids in their schooling at home has been important at this time. It's also a time to get lots of the projects on the back end of studio practice done too. Life seems strangely busy for us, even when it's so eerily quiet on the streets, but we are managing well, and continue to stay safe and positive.
These quahog pieces have been an interesting exercise during this time. I liked doing them; they are very different from the large, multilayered paintings I have been busy with. If you are interested in purchasing these pieces, please go to my gallery shop page under "purchase" here.
I hope you are able to stay safe, positive, and healthy during this time!
PS. Quahog (pronounced KOE-hog) shells are clam shells with various markings of purple in different shades on the inside. On the outside, these clam shells are gray, plain and really nondescript. First Nation Wampanoags have always prized the purple color of the inner shells. These are called "wampum" and were used in trading as currency, often crafted into pieces of gorgeous jewelry, and are still made today by artisans.
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