Art in the Time of Pandemic 1
Part One: Originally posted May 8, 2020
All art (c) the individual artists
The artist in her Williamsburg studio with Peaking Through on the wall (acrylic on mylar, 40 x 60 inches) and two paintings in progress on the tables
"In response to the shut down, I've been working on more complicated images that take lots of time to resolve. Luckily I have a home studio so I've got all the time and space I need. I also love the return of long conversations on the telephone."
For the past going-on-eight weeks, life for artists has been more difficult than usual, sheltering in place exacerbated by fear of disease and severe loss of income, magnified by the deathly horror of the nightly news (all made worse, I scarcely need to note, by a woefully inept president). Still we try to make the best of it. The fortunate among us have access to our studios. Those who don’t have set up ad hoc work spaces. Our need to make affords us salvation as we lose ourselves in the miraculous thing that happens when mind, eye, and hand are fully engaged in creation. Here, a report from the field with current work—some still in progress—and comments from the artists. (So many artists responded that I have divided this report into two posts. Follow the flow of words and images that continue into Part 2.)
A peek into a few studios
Who doesn't love a studio visit? We start with a look into some temporary work spaces--a garage, a spare room, the kitchen table--as well as into studios where work has continued (more or less) uninterrupted since the start of the pandemic.
Cape Cod studio view
"Since leaving New York City because of the pandemic I have been working in my garage in West Yarmouth Mass. After a few false starts and some initial frustrations I’ve been trying to work without judgement in some new directions."
Below: What If?, collage and gouache on linen, 12 x 12 inches
Poet XXI, oil and acrylic on canvas, 72 x 50 inches
"As the daily tragedy of this pandemic continues, the studio feels, even more than usual, like a place of urgency and regeneration. I've been extremely fortunate to be able to continue my work (and with far fewer interruptions).
Below: Alexander's studio in the lower level of his Pennsylvania home
New York studio view above
"During the pause of normal routine, I’ve been reading and painting more. I re-worked the painting shown here, Odyssey, in early April and I’m fairly happy with it now. One thing I’m thinking about is how painting is a limited medium – literally defined by its materials. I recently read Michael Schreyach’s article, Re-created Flatness: Hans Hofmann’s Concept of the Picture Plane as a Medium of Expression, which speaks to the richness of painting abstractly now or at any time. It’s an inspiring thought, especially when restriction is currently part of our lives: that by embracing limitation, painters are released to create their own autonomy and meaning, and that there is the possibility for this meaning to take unlimited form."
Below: Odyssey, oil on linen, 72 x 60 inches
Studio view in Azara's "little lower studio at the bottom of the barn, a former chicken coop," in the Catskills. Foreground: Oil pastel on Mylar, part of a new series
Studio view, Brooklyn
"I have been working on a series of accordion books of different sizes including a miniature one that I just finished during the pandemic. Luckily, I had previously purchased a number of blank books. They are like doing a long and complicated drawing in watercolor, gouache, and collage. I am also doing some new oil paintings since my show [at A.I.R. Gallery] was postponed, but these books are more enjoyable to work on in these stressful times in Brooklyn."
Below: Bee's Knees, partial view of leporello; archival paper with collage, ink, gouache, watercolor, crayon, markers, acrylic, colored pencil; 2.38 x2.25, expanded to 42 inches long
Untitled; watercolor, ink, and gouache on arches, 16 x 12 inches
"In March I brought home supplies from my studio and set up a table in my absent daughter's room to work on paper. It's been up and down. Some days I really love it; it's a release, an outlet, an escape, a response to our situation, and an opportunity to go in new directions with a variety of materials. But there are days when I find the horror of the pandemic and our administration overwhelming, and I wonder how we can keep on going with this thing we do. The existential question is brought into high relief."
Below: Berger's temporary studio in a spare bedroom in her Brooklyn home
New small works in progress
"I really have had a hard time starting new work at home while unable to get to my studio at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, where I had just planned out two new paintings. For a good month, I have been feeling the emotional ups and downs of having to stay home, be furloughed from my job with no pay (thank god for unemployment!) and worries about my wife who’s at extremely high risk for this virus. And I had no art supplies. But with the delivery of a little fold-up table, some paint, brushes, and paper from Blick, I created a small space with light and a plant. And recently, I started to make some work. The process of mixing color in containers, laying down a flat coat, then allowing an image to come to me, has made me the most happy I’ve been in months. The end result doesn’t matter, only finding myself in the work.”
Below: The temporary apartment studio
Moving On, oil stick on panel, 12 x 12 inches
"In this frightening, crazy time I find myself moving in new directions in the 'new normal,' whatever that is."
Below: Bjork's insulated and heated studio in a section of her barn in the Catskills
Emerging Green, mixed media on panel, 30 x 30 inches
"It's been a struggle for me to make work during this time, but it's gotten me out of my usual mode of making. I'm including frayed pieces of washed canvas, cardboard, and paper that I've wet, crumpled, painted, and then printed with encaustic on the hotbox. The work looks more weathered but I think it's richer."
Below: Natale's studio in the lower level of her home in Western Massachusetts
Jane Allen Nodine
Terra, 11-C19, acrylic and synthetic paper on panel, 24 x 24 inches
"I am fortunate that my studio is in my home. When the stay-at-home started in mid-March, I decided to establish a schedule that would include daily chores, yoga, walking, reading, and studio time. I have been using this time like a residency, and I have had more concentrated studio time than I have had in years. To date I have completed over 20 new paintings."
Below: Nodine's studio in her South Carolina home
View of the studio in Duerwald's Pennsylvania home
Below: Untitled work; graphite, acrylic, paper on canvas; 10 x 8 inches
Wall, fiber (knotted netting)
"The strands of filament from used Japanese fishing nets are cut in such a way that barbs of thread extend from each knot, visually suggesting barbed wire and its associations. The title refers to a border wall, separating families, detaining children in cage-like structures. This incomplete wall has parts pulling away, escaping, yet with threads linking one part to another. This is a work in progress, where it is now in my studio. Dimensions are variable in this installation."
Below: Hickman in her Lower Hudson Valley studio
Daily drawing (May 2, 2020), marker and pencil on dot-pattern paper, 8.25 x 5.75 inches
"It has been a very slow process to start making work during this 'pause' but I finally did. In 2015, I started a series called Daily drawing. The intention was to make a drawing a day. I quickly realized that I couldn't do a drawing a day but still, I tried. Some years I drew more, some less. The last drawing I made in this series was on August 25, 2019. I started up again on March 22nd. This time, I wanted to do the drawings in pairs. Sometimes I finish both in one day, like this pair. I've been drawing on dot pattern paper and creating patterns by connecting the dots. It's a meditative process."
Below: The desk in Zarate's Queens studio
Stender's Brooklyn studio with work on the loom and completed pieces behind it
"My working process has only changed to the extent that I am now sharing my home studio with my partner who is locked out of his studio due to the pandemic. So we are both working in a smaller space than we are used to."
Below: Work in progress, painted rayon and silk, which will be 40 x 22 inches
Silk Road (still unnumbered), encaustic on panel, 18 x 18 inches
My Massachusetts studio is on the ground floor of a two story building. I live on the second floor, so going to work is a 10-second commute. Even in normal times I spend most of my time indoors working, with a daily break to exercise, so I'm somewhat shielded from the intensity of the pandemic (until I turn on the news). But I miss the freedom of driving to Manhattan, where I have a tiny apartment, and I miss the interaction of family and friends. Zoom and Facebook have been lifelines, even for a contented live-aloner like me.
Below: Studio view with paintings made during the pandemic. (One of the great things about working in encaustic is that I don't have to clean my brushes. Setting them on a warming tray softens the wax paint)
Left: Elisa D'Arrigo
Work in progress, unfired handbuilt stoneware clay, 10 x 7 6 inches
"This clay piece is still wet and will likely look quite different when fired and glazed. The main alteration to my work situation is I can no longer access the ceramics studio I use. I brought clay and tools home. Although I am making work, I cannot fire it . Hopefully when/if things stabilize, I will bring the pieces to the ceramic studio without breaking or chipping too many, as unfired clay is exceedingly fragile and therefore tricky to transport. "
Right: Richard Bottwin
Work in progress
"I'm unable to get to my Brooklyn studio so I bought a little table-top band saw and I’m hot gluing models. I’ll make as many as I can and hope to get back and start fabricating in July. Color will come later."
Nancy Bea Miller
Kitchen Table Turnip in Stillman & Birn watercolor sketchbook
"I'm like the artist in all the joke memes we are seeing, no difference to my art practice except even more time to spread out and sink in and no pressure to be doing other things. I'm lucky that I have a safe place to live and work at home. There's food and power. Recently I did get sick, stricken with something flu-ish or (light) pneumonia-like. Partly because of that I've been less in my studio upstairs and more doing small occasional watercolor pieces at the kitchen table. I've been doing lots of quarantine cooking and painting. I kept the turnip out of the vegetable soup in order to paint it (you can see the soup pot on the stove)."
Below: Quarantine Muffin, also in notebook, 8 x 9 inches
Nancy Bea Miller's Miller's kitchen table setup brings us to scenes of home and references to domesticity. Home is our safe place. If Facebook is any indication--and certainly the grocery store shelves would bear this out--there's a lot of baking going on. For many, Covid 19 is going to lead to the Covid 15, those dreaded extra pounds brought on by rage baking, stress eating, and pandemic panic. But home is the center of much more: fun, warmth, recycling, and many acts of generosity. It's also a place of political resistance (scroll down). I'm reminded of the tongue-in-cheek feminist t-shirt: Ladies' Sewing Circle and Terrorist Society. Needles can be sharp.
The artist's Quarantine Gallery on the front lawn on her New Jersey home, with three mixed-media photo collage works, each 72 inches high
"I created a Quarantine Gallery of my work for the neighbors who walk past my home and studio everyday to escape their isolation. I was inspired by Nat Connaacher’s Instagram post #putartinyouryard. The lovely, curious visitors continue to show up daily to see what’s new in the gallery. It has been an unexpected, warm, wonderful connection with the outside world." (In a post script, Rothman said that on Day 13, the gallery had to close. "While stepping off my front porch to take down the artwork, I broke my foot." She's getting around the house on a scooter.)
House, salvaged wood, 12 x 12 inches
"Creating abstract patterns is my way of dealing with life’s ambiguities and uncertainties. I create complex, vibrant, quilt-inspired wall sculptures from wood debris collected after natural disasters, such as hurricanes, fires and floods. During this Covid 19 lockdown, my studio work has been slowed and painful. There have been a number of cancellations and postponements that distracted me from making work. Despite those disappointments, I have managed to complete a few small works like this one. My studio is in the garage of home, but I have spent most of my time making fabric masks. I want to helpful."
This is a Lemon, assam tea and turmeric on watercolor paper, 5.5 x 8.5 inches
"I’m not getting to my studio. At home I work on the kitchen counter. I'm working small, in watercolor, though I hadn't touched it in years. I am loving making these small shapes. I hope I can carry this mindset with me when I get back to the studio. (There I work larger and I think of making 'finished' work.)
Inanity of Redundancy, oil over cyanotype, 40 x 32 inches
"As an artist living with a writer, time alone has not been too challenging; it has always been a necessity to get work done. But in a normal existence, time alone could be countered by dinners with friends or an afternoon in the pub, and this has been difficult to accept as will cancelling summer travel to visit family. Studio time has a new focus. I'm trying to make the most of what is on hand to avoid going out for every little thing one would need. The number of wood panels in my studio is getting low, so working over the many cyanotypes I have seems like a good way to reinvent. Kind of like cleaning out the cupboard!"
aii7, Family Debris, monoprint with mixed-media on bfk rives paper, 8 x 8 inches
"I have been working at home, instead of in my Worcester studio, during Massachusetts' Covid 19 stay-at-home order. I've elected to work small and to use material that I already had at home. Working small has enabled me to hold the pieces in my hand. The intimately scaled work feels reminiscent of domestic arts, including sewing or knitting, and in many ways offers the same comfort in the making. But in the end, it's homework, providing the opportunity to re-use, re-work, reward, and follow my mantra: waste not, want not."
Quarantini Martini, left, and Be a Good Neighbor, both silkscreens, 4 x 6 inches
"I did these small prints to help raise some money for my family and a local food bank. Twenty-five percent of the proceeds went to the charity. So far I’ve raised over $1000. Keeps me busy."
Two images below: Stills from Schaller's Quarantini Martini video, with a link to the video here (it's the last video on that page). Editorially I'd note that Schaller, behind the bar in full hazmat gear, second photo down, is a master entrepreneur and that he and his family have more fun—even in lockdown—than anyone else I know. Go, team!)
Passage of Our Times, ongoing; installation of toilet paper rolls marked with the dates used
"It has been very hard for me to create art during this period. I do not focus well with anxiety, and and what I am learning is that the state of distraction occurs when people are in a pandemic or war. I am fortunate that my studio is close. I can walk the three blocks and be there, so I go even if it is to just to sit or do administrative work. I feel it is important to record these times in my work so that it can be remembered and understood in the future."
Number 4571, NY, 4/8/20, oil on handmade paper
After decades of working in a spacious lower-Manhattan studio, Friedberg relocated her studio to a corner of her bedroom in a midtown high-rise. She writes:
"On April 8, after four weeks of sequestration from a plague that sucked out every bit of life as we knew it, I grabbed any sheet of paper I could find whose space I could enter and bring forth a bright sunny spring day with some red singing birds as accents. It didn’t happen. The paper was a beautiful handmade paper and I did not want to chuck it, so I took some paper towel soaked with turpentine and kept rubbing out the imagery, leaving some areas showing through to the white paper and then just played, with no thought in mind except for moving the balance of the white spaces. That went on for some time. Then I stopped, picked up my black oilstick, and placed the stacked bodies."
Loss of Body Heat, mixed media (book page with collage and machine stitching), 12 x 9 inches
"I have been away from my studio for seven weeks. Working with what I have at home, I have been stitching and adding collage elements to book pages and/or old screen prints. This piece is on a page out of a book on how the human body operates, hence the title. The collage elements are pieces cut from old screen prints (I have a flat file full of them). The machine stitching includes different quilting stitches on my sewing machine. I'm not sure if the piece is done, or if more stitching will be added. "
Lamentation for Ermenegilda and Rebecca, vintage lace and silk thread hand-dyed with cochineal insect dye; in progress, current dimensions 132 x 180 x 2 inches
"This seventh week hit a bit hard after I reached a kind of equilibrium. Being in the studio is what has kept me grounded. When I am at home too much I start to dissociate from myself and my life, even while I keep busy with administrative tasks. I don't think I—or any of us— will be exactly the same once we're out and about, even if it might appear so. Especially after losing two dear people last year, I've thought a lot during this time about what's left of my life and how I should use it....and about how artists can perhaps maybe work together in real and sustainable ways."
Social Murder, deconstructed MAGA hats, cotton, thread, 5 x 8.5 x 4 inches; from the MAGA Hat Collection
"Home schooling and getting my classes online consumed the first weeks of my quarantine. I had this new idea early on, but for the first time ever I was frozen: I felt like it was not appropriate to make art when so many people were dying. As time went on, and it became more apparent that this is yet another class war, my anger took over and I made this piece. My brother is an essential worker, currently putting in 100+ hours a week, managing the kitchen of a nursing home in North Carolina."
In Black and White
The avalanche of images that arrived online through the week required some organizing. Once I had a critical mass—about 100 images after a few days, with more to come—I began to see how they might be organized. Studio and Home were logical starting points. The largely black and white grouping you see here is another. What I found interesting in these works is the range of expression in two and three dimensions, with materials as varied as glass and thread, and processes from conventional painting to digital drawing.
David A. Clark
The Singing Bones, cast glass, 20 x 20 x 8 inches
"I've been thinking a lot about mortality these last couple of years, and that has only been amplified during the pandemic. The idea for this piece came to me a few years ago, but it was just completed in early April and seems especially relevant right now. The idea that life is an accumulation of experience and that it is, at times, both hard and particularly fragile. I am still able to go to my studio and am used to being alone most days, but this time of social distancing has been a whole other level of aloneness. It's caused me to be more grateful for all of the tiny bits of social connective tissue in my life, those resonating moments of connectedness that hold everything together."
And Still #3 and And Still #4, both flashe on yupo, 12 x 9 inches
"The big change has been using a spare bed to paint on here in my apartment. I will go back to the studio soon but will be masked, gloved, and sanitized! I find my work has become considerably smaller, and I may continue that practice since I, too, had shows canceled. I want to fill up an entire wall of these small catastrophic landscapes (of sorts). I feel a subliminal sense of trepidation 24/7. And yet there has been beauty. Spring flowers seem larger than life. Cooking has become a renewed passion. I can't seem to read much but Netflix is going strong. We will get thru this. See you all in next phase of the new normal."
Walls Black White; resin, clay, and pigment on aluminum composite panel; 24 x 25 inches
"I‘m lucky to have my studio available. I started on this series at the beginning of sheltering in place. It is based on some drawings I did 10 years ago. Probably obvious why I’m thinking about walls."
Apart. Not Alone, acrylic on birch panel, 40x40 inches overall
"Coincidentally, I had a unrelated health issue during the early pandemic period. This piece spanned that time, and consequently turned into a very drawn-out, slow process to complete. It was created for a specific group show this summer, the existence of which is now in question. In any case, I'm very pleased with it, and as usual, Joyce is ready to claim it for our home."
Can’t Stand Alone, painted mahogany, 70 x 8 x 9 inches
"This is an intertwining. I’ve been doing a lot of work, and my work and practice have shifted during this time. I’m more improvisational. I’m allowing the work to provide direction rather than directing it myself. I’m working faster. A breakthrough moment in practice."
Footnote #1, Notes on Clarissa (Volume I), exhibition cards and staples, 10.25 x 10.5 inches
"This is an addendum to Notes on Clarissa (Volume I), 2019, a series of collages alluding to the 18th-century novel, Clarissa by Samuel Richardson. In this piece, I've taken fragments of a few different exhibition card images of my 2019 installation, Ebb Tide, and recombined them. Since life feels fragmentary at this point, it seemed apt."
Night Walk, Corel Painter digital drawing (for giclee printing), 10 x 8 inches
"While staying home I have been experimenting with the computer application, Corel Painter, and have done a series of drawings reflecting my feelings about our experience. They are done in high resolution with an eye to getting archival prints made at some point. I use a Wacom drawing tablet and pencil-like stylus, so this work is different for me in that my usual work on paper uses Sumi ink and other wet materials requiring a brush. Here I am actually drawing, something I haven’t done in years, and there is a satisfaction in the physicality of the pencil in contact with the surface. It is ironic that what originates as a digital medium can feel so satisfyingly direct."
P Elaine Sharpe
Love in the time of CV19, acrylic and gouache on yupo, 12 x 9 inches
"My studio is closed. The supplies I brought home for making work hold no attraction. It has taken this long to be aware of my senses returning. Here comes love. Perhaps tomorrow will bring desire..."
Front Lines; charcoal, graphite, printers ink; 30.25 x 40.25 inches
"After an initial period of paralysis I have been able to move back into my work. My concerns were safety, cleanliness, and trying to understand what was happening to our world, our country, and our city. An extended period of daily meditation allowed me to feel more alive and respond to life as it is. There is still joy! This drawing reflects the raw emotions of grief anger fear integrated with possibility. It's how I am feeling now."
Late Spring, graphite on carborundum monoprint, 30 x 22 inches
"I’m lucky to be able to work in my regular studio. Between the pandemic and the fact that I was scheduled to do a residency during this time, I’m trying to push the idea of remaining open to some unrealized possibilities in the work which had been put aside. That said, I have found myself doing a lot of drawings. Most have been on top of old state proofs, mostly with graphite and colored pencil. This drawing was begun on a carborundum aquatint monoprint. It’s a print that is yet to be resolved, but which became a wonderful starting point for this drawing."
Untitled 2, graphite, black oxide, sumi on paper, 14 x 11 inches
"My studio building, a half hour drive from my home, is open, yet I can’t seem to want to work there with the stay-at-home orders in place. I go sporadically to pick up supplies and leave. At home, I am working on a growing body of cathartic drawings. Each piece embodies accumulated time, void and human presence as living, breathing connected particles on one Earth."
Deaf Poem, ink in sketchbook, 10 x 14 inches
"House arrest makes me feel isolated, separate. I can't hear what's going on. These poems (writing-drawings) are deaf, they can't hear you. They will eventually be booked."
Untitled (and may or may not stay that way), thread and vellum, 11 x 11 inches
"My studio practice has stalled, yet there is a development in this piece that reflects the pandemic and has me ready to start working again. The piece was started early in 2020 and was still in progress when the crisis took hold. The development was seeing that it is finished, that allowing threads to remain unanchored is the change the pandemic has brought on. I know what to do now."
Jeanne Williamson Ostroff
Bumps in the Road 1, mixed media, 6 x 5.25 x .5 inches
"Bumps in the Road 1 is the first of a new series of small three-dimensional collages that represent the challenges of living through a pandemic. The challenge of not touching our faces, keeping our homes clean, finding ways to food shop, making sure to exercise daily, trying to find humor or watch humor to keep our spirits up, and more. It's made with collaged monoprinted fabric scraps that are stitched on the removable cups from my bras. I hate those things so I remove them. Between healing from donating my kidney in December 2019, and now working from home because of the pandemic, I’ve given up underwire bras (which hurt) for the sake of soft structured bras (which are much more comfortable)."
Overpassover, digital mockup for woodcut 44 x 36 inches
"There haven't been any major changes or adjustments to the process of creating this piece vs any other time, mostly because I started the planning for it before the beginning of the Corona virus outbreak. It has, however, been a good stress relief and distraction from dealing with the challenges of unexpectedly transitioning to an online teaching format in the middle of the semester. I'm almost finished with transferring the drawing onto the wood and hope to begin carving this week."
Digitally manipulated photograph, 16 x 20 inches
"I have been forced to stay at home in my Eastern Shore (Chesapeake Bay) home since the first week of March . . . The snow fences on Rock Hall's miniscule beach are still up and caution tape prevents anyone from entering. In fact, I can't even get out of my car now! Cops patrol. So, I've been learning how to use my photographs to tinker with reality . . . as a counterpoint to what dear leader is trying to do to us and what this entire thing is doing to my head. This is truly a surreal time."
Goodbye to All That, 2016-2020, mixed-media silver gelatin photo collage, 29 x 27 inches
"It has been incredibly difficult to make art these days. My concentration and focus are off, so I am doing art in little dribs and drabs. I am just going with it, not forcing myself or fighting it. I made this in 2016. It got damaged, and I put it away for a few years until I figured out how to bring it back to life. As I reworked it recently, I kept discovering different aspects of the title phrase relating to my own life, never realizing it might have such universal meaning."
Person to Person
One thing artists have mentioned in conversation is the lack of human interaction. Yes, we're all texting, emailing, messaging, FaceTiming, and Zooming, so we're in touch. But many of us are not actually touching. Parents miss their out-of-the-house adult children. Grandparents long to hold their kids' kids. I miss the double- or triple-cheek kiss to greet friends. And I think most of us miss the social (non-distancing) frisson of art openings.
Out of Sight, graphite and conté on paper, 11 x 15
"I feel on some days overwhelming sadness at all the grim news and despair at our heartless and incompetent lack of leadership. Listening to the predominant sound track of screaming ambulance sirens, here in Brooklyn, I think essentially we are the lucky ones to be living above our studios. We are painting a lot, cooking a lot, making music, and doing yoga, grateful to be safe.
"This piece is one of a series of drawings I made near the beginning of these difficult times. Reflecting the collective feeling of dread, each drawing in this series features a face of various age, race, sex and type of person pressing their eyes shut with their hands. I started following this global pandemic and the president’s response to it in the news early on and I was pretty concerned by late January. This series was made in January and February."
Sisters, oil on paper, 12 x 9 inches
"Making art during this time has been more difficult because my five-year-old twins are no longer in school, so I haveg to juggle homeschooling, childcare, teaching online, house duties I can no longer pay someone to do, and painting. I don't get to paint everyday, and when I do, it's usually only two or three hours. These paintings are significantly smaller and less detailed than what I usually paint. They are also part of a fundraiser where I donate 100% of sales to a family struggling financially during this pandemic."
Family Portrait, mixed media including vintage photograph, plastic, cellophane, colored pencil on paper, 11 x 8 inches
"The scale of current work is intimate. I have been too busy with family, and the occasional outings for groceries and such to create anything but small works. I had planned a two-panel large painting for an exhibition in Memphis called the Art of Science. I was collaborating with a medical researcher here at UT [University of Tennessee] Health Science. That work and that show have been postponed."
Quarantine Portrait, photo collage with encaustic and mixed media 18x18 inches
"In the first few weeks of my quarantine, images of social distancing emerged, uninvited, into my studio. My portraits without faces, like my world without social interaction, is unexpectedly becoming a new normal."
Sheltering in Place, thread on linen, 8 x 10 inches
Mars, figure drawing
"Isolation is tough but its also a time to create and refocus. I have started drawing a lot more, doing one or two Zoom life drawing sessions a week to get back into it."
A Little Summer Divertissement, oil on linen, 50 x 64inches
"I started this one quite a while back, but it seemed to take on a different quality as I continued to work on it during the pandemic. It had a lightness all along, but the figures lolling on a beach takes on an entirely new set of meanings. My studio situation hasn’t changed really, since I live and work in rural Maryland and it’s easy for me to work and for us to remain isolated, although not being able to see friends in NYC is a drag. But the pandemic and our present political nightmare is never far from my thoughts."
Aedric, stage 1, mixed media on panel, 44 x36 inches, as are the following three
Below: Aedric, state 2
This isn't anything close to how I usually develop a painting. But I've been doing a series of book paintings for a couple of years now, and they have convinced me that it's OK to work however I want and not be too doctrinaire with myself. The real circumstance that has prodded me to mess with the formula are the results of this pandemic (or as people love to euphemistically say, "these crazy times"), and the feeling that circumstances that we initially perceive as limiting can strangely prod us to broaden some of our horizons and approach things a little differently.
It's also been interesting to document the evolution of this painting because having a child in the house is the living breathing embodiment of the word "evolution". There he is, in the painting as in life, bigger than he should be, and hard to tame."
Aedric, stage 3
Below: Aedric, stage 4; "darn close" to completion
Telemachus, encaustic and found objects, 6.5 x 4.25 inches
"Recently I have been constructing small assemblages because arthritis in my hands is making it hard to grasp brushes. This is one of a series of assemblages, Circe and Telemachus: Art in the Time of Coronavirus. Greek goddess Circe was quarantined by Helios on a barren island for life. Telemachus was the son of Odysseus."
Alpha Female; spalted pear wood, oak, paint; 41 x 14 x 17 inches
"I am fortunate to have my studio on my property so I can make art during the pandemic. One of the biggest changes is the removal of all the normal distractions and the simplification of my normal life. This sculpture is the first one in a new series about the Amazons—ancient, modern and contemporary. She is based on my great aunt Alice, who was one of the first 40 women from Illinois who joined the Women's Auxiliary Air Corps. For this series I am reimagining Durer's Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse as Amazon Warriors, and the current Covid crisis makes this series less abstract conceptually and more relevant. I am thinking about who these warriors will be—health care workers, grocery store clerks, and delivery workers? Women leaders of countries who are doing far better with smart, decisive, tech based action than their male counterparts who are using authoritarian approaches?
First Day of Pandemic, watercolor, 9 x 12 inches
Mark Staff Brandl
Small Drawing, 8 x 5.5 inches
"I am riffing on some of my favorite sequential/comic art shticks. I have been posting them every few days on Facebook and Instagram."
World Traveler 2, oil on Mylar, 19 x 24 inches
"After a few feverish nights with the virus, this idea for a series came to me. I collect vernacular photography which inspires my art making. A few years ago a friend gave me 27 boxes of slides found in an Asbury Park thrift store. These images documented one person's world travels. I felt this was the time to immerse myself—painting images of far-flung adventures as I shelter at home."
Heart with Chair; encaustic, Duralar, and clay, 12 x 12 inches
"This body of work feels a bit different. The subject matter has shifted as hearts began to show up in my work. I know they are more personal in nature (with the loss of my wife and now my father, barely seven months apart). The heart is the center, the beat, the life. How difficult it is that sometimes it just stops beating. I don't know where this work is going, but right now I'm going with it."
The Art World In Quarantine; cast uranium glass, steel, mirrors, electronics; 36 x 14 x 14
"At a time when we all feel radioactive and contagious, the art world must be seen behind glass. I have been fortunate and have been able to come to my studio. This is the time to make art work for change! Art can heal and inform . . . and this is the time to make it."