Project Description

January 12, 2020

How Has Your Artistic Practice Changed
and what have you discovered?

. . .

It’s a challenging time for artists, but creative work continues.

The Arts Coast Journal asked a wide range of artists how their artistic practice has changed during the pandemic – and if they’ve discovered anything helpful, that they plan to keep on doing in the long-term.

Many thanks for these thoughtful answers. If you’d like to share your thoughts,
you can email s.cowley@creativepinellas.org and we’ll keep updating this page.

. . .

Before Covid-19, Creative Clay‘s Community Arts Program served 50 individuals with neuro-differences, ages 18 and older, Monday through Friday.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, some people with disabilities might be at a higher risk of infection or severe illness because of their underlying medical conditions. Therefore, the population served is inherently at greater risk of contracting Covid-19.

Creative Clay Connects

The greatest impact of COVID-19 is that Creative Clay’s Community Arts Program closed indefinitely, isolating member artists from the program and the community. All operations went virtual. Staffers worked from home. The organization launched online gallery exhibits. Member artists sold art online. 

Creative Clay pivoted and partnered to create Creative Clay Connects. Creative Clay artists embraced the use of technology as a new way to learn and create. Partnerships with local businesses and other creatives challenged the artists to make new art in various mediums, with all collaboration taking place through a new online platform. 

Read the full story here

– Kerry Kriseman, Creative Clay

Where do I begin to enumerate the changes that 2020 brought to those of us who work in the theatre? One hundred percent of auditioning takes place in the actor’s home in the form of self taping or, more occasionally and mostly for on camera work, online live auditions. I’ve heard that several episodic auditions (those for television series) have asked actors to tape the given scene first as they would regularly and once again while wearing a mask!

The new way of auditioning, courtesy of Becca McCoy

The downside is we are having to come up with new ways of relating to those on the opposite side of the table, since most traditional small talk is eliminated in this format.

The upside is we can increasingly be seen by casting and directors across the country, and be considered for roles in other markets than our geographical home. Which in some ways can lead to another downside – we are literally auditioning with every other actor of our gender and type in the whole country and sometimes abroad. 

Read The Full Story Here

– Vickie Daignault, Actor

Safety Harbor, the last work painted by Margaret Juul in 2020

While COVID-19 did not slow down my own creative impulses, it did affect my life in many ways.

The quarantine’s most considerable impact is that it forced the cancellation of several art shows with galleries, especially internationally.

I was honored and excited for the invitation to create for shows in Amsterdam, Paris and Italy.

But due to the global pandemic, I wondered, “what was the point?”

Thanks to the generous grant from the St. Pete Arts Alliance, I completed and published A Love Letter to Home: The Art of Creating your Nest in May (two years in the making). Fortunately, it debuted No. 1 on the Amazon ‘Interior Design’ category the first week after release.

Read the Full Story Here

– Margaret Juul, Fine Artist & Designer

My work certainly did change during Covid – I assembled a team during lockdown, and onward we worked, on my multidisciplinary work, NO KNOW NOTHING.

In early 2020 I’d been finessing the final version of NO KNOW NOTHING—until, March and Covid. My spirits plummeted when everything stopped and shut down, until I received notice that I’d been awarded a Creative Pinellas 2020 Professional Artist Grant, stating a belief in my “ability to build a future landscape in this crisis, one that will renew and flourish.

Uplifted at that very moment, I believed again that we would endure and survive via our innate ability to create. So did cast and crew members, each a consummate professional in their field, living and working from afar, simply to create in the way that most artists do, in between our day jobs, and without pay. Why? Because we believe in our work.

There will be a free screening of the 10-minute play now a movie on Zoom, hosted by the Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art on January 16 from 6-7 pm. Find the link here.

Read the Full Story Here

– Elizabeth Indianos, Multidisciplinary Artist

Steven Kenny’s studio

During the pandemic, my daily schedule has changed very little. Having the luxury of a studio above the garage makes it easy to stick with my usual routine. Pre-Covid I spent more time visiting local museums and gallery openings. Since those events have been dramatically reduced I do have more time to devote to my work but I do miss all that interaction.

I can’t help but think that buyers are increasingly turning to the internet to shop for art. I’ve seen a dramatic increase in private commissions and sales – buyers reaching out to me directly. Albeit, many of the commissions have been on the smaller side but I’ve also made some significant sales of larger paintings to old and new collectors.

Thankfully, I’ve maintained a strong internet and social media presence that is 99% focused on my work. Past and future collectors can easily stay updated on what I’m doing.

This experience has reinforced my commitment to promoting my work online. Having said that, I haven’t given up my belief in continuing to pursue brick-and-mortar exhibition opportunities. I have strong relationships with the galleries that represent me and they work hard on my behalf. The ground is shifting but I believe it isn’t yet time to abandon tried and true sale venues.

– Steven Kenny, Visual Artist

As artistic director of the St. Petersburg Shakespeare Festival, I took some time to look back at what we accomplished over the last several years. The cancelled programming allowed me time to reflect on ways the company can continue to cast women and women of color in traditionally male or traditionally white roles.

Carmi Harris as Puck in Soliloquies for St Petersburg

I have tried to make the most of this time while we are on pause by having hard conversations with other arts leaders and my mentors, two of which are Black men. It is vital to me that my artistic pursuits support the St. Petersburg community so I want to make sure that when we return, we are doing so with even greater representation for BIPOC artists.

The pandemic has been an opportunity to plan and have these important conversations. 

This is a video I had time to work on over the last several months. At the end, there are a few videos from Soliloquies for St. Petersburg, which was our virtual response to the pandemic. 

– Veronica Matthews, St Petersburg Shakespeare Festival

The foundation of so much of the work of Your Real Stories is interviews. For the past decade, all of our interviews were conducted in person, often in people’s homes.

So much of the work we do requires us to be able to connect with people in intimate settings where they are most comfortable. Switching to a virtual format seemingly removes some of that personal connection. We’re no longer greeted at the door or able to look around someone’s living room or see treasured family photos at a glance.

But at the same time, the COVID19 pandemic that has forced many of us to work and communicate remotely has helped to deepen that intimacy we share in interviews. It’s as if the vulnerability that we all feel right now is a presence in the room.

Read the Full Story Here

– Jaye Sheldon, Your Real Stories

Bob Barancik from the series Spirit Figures 1

I think that the art I did on my dining room table between March to December might resonate with some Arts Coast Journal readers.

creativeshare.com/exhibits/covid

And my “Healing Through Art” webpage really engages the zeitgeist.

creativeshare.com/exhibits/lamentations

Mimi Rice’s reading and the Lamentations video are quite moving. And the art comes from a deep place.

– Bob Barancik, Visual Artist

As a choreographer and dancer, my creative juices flow when I am in hands-on, feet-in personal contact with dancers and other collaborating artists. But Covid has been an unwelcome dance partner – demanding, and mostly unresponsive to my creative needs.

And having said that, my pre-Covid work with technically and artistically savvy artists led me to a virtual jump-off spot and into new territory. The result was a collaborative film, conceived with 16 artists from our lively dance, writing, music, painting, acting, filming and editing communities.

All of these artists live and work in Tampa Bay and mostly in Pinellas County but have notable careers far beyond our borders. Patience, knowledge, good humor, professional attitude, and respect for the project made for an extraordinary experience.

The result? Plans for future collaborative projects are in the works. I highly recommend the challenge of forging unforeseen partnerships and trusting that you each have much to learn and savor from these new alliances.  

Dance on!

– Paula Kramer, Choreographer

In the last year, I’ve made theatre on Zoom, on film and on the telephone. I’m all for making theatre in any way we can. 

I’m very glad that London’s National Theatre got such a huge international audience when they shared filmed plays for free on YouTube during months of lockdown, that they’ve started a subscription streaming service. Their outstanding productions range from classic to contemporary, and always feature diverse casting. Last year’s beatbox Cyrano with no false nose was spine-tingling. 

I’m grateful that so many theatres are sharing performances online. We’ve seen amazing work in our area, around the country and around the world. And I’m inspired by the many UK theatres who offer online versions with captions and audio descriptions, to make plays accessible for audiences often left out of live performance.

Rush hour traffic on the bridges keeps so many Hillsborough-Pinellas-Sarasota audiences separate. So I hope that sharing work online along with live performances will be a lasting change.

– Sheila Cowley, Playwright

[Disclaimer – Sheila Cowley serves as the
Managing Editor of the Arts Coast Journal]

Taking Flight, 2020. Stainless steel, corten steel
. 12′ h x 7.5′ w x 3.5 d’
.

Working for a better year ahead

No one alive today has ever seen a crisis like this pandemic. Many small businesses, including my studio and all my projects, have come to a screeching halt. It’s like the unimaginable plot of a Twilight Zone episode.

I have been sheltering at home in lockdown mode and avoiding all outside contact since last April. It’s a wartime mentality with no end in sight, save the new vaccinations that are just becoming available.

My refuge is the sanctity of my studio. Aside from that, because of covid, I’m forced into living life through a flat computer screen. It’s made me realize our visual reality is like an interface with a more contextual computer screen and one step closer to living in a simulation.

My art practice over the last year has changed in that I spend much more time on the computer in the design and proposal phase of projects. I have been concentrating on planning and management of production, relying on outside fabricators more as well. My work is proceeding at a slow deliberate pace as the quarantine has taught me the virtue of patience.

The lack of physical contact over the past year of isolation has made me value my electronic contact with friends and collaborators greatly. I never miss the chance to thank people and tell them how much I appreciate them, in an effort to foster an atmosphere of caring and kindness during this difficult time.

I’m hoping for better days in 2021, and I’ll keep working in spite of the hurdles. I’ll continue to try and create new ideas that inspire wonder and spread joy. We’re all in this together.

– Don Gialanella, Sculptor

Taking Flight was commissioned by the City of Oldsmar FL. The sculpture incorporates sweeping stainless steel wings and a huge array of Oldsmobile transmission parts as an homage to Ransom Olds, the founder of Oldsmar. The most engaging feature of the sculpture is its interactivity. 

. . .
The pandemic in 2020 changed the way I communicate with the public. I have now learned to communicate with my customers virtually through Zoom meetings, webinars, social media and text messaging rather than in person.

I made business connections, gained new customers, acquired contracts, did interviews and group lectures without having to leave my home.
. . .


The pandemic slowed my business down… but it didn’t stop it. I plan on continuing using these platforms of communication and others in 2021 and even after the pandemic is over.

– Catherine Weaver, Visual Artist and Gallery Owner

Foundation for a Healthy St.Petersburg 

Though it took some time and a lot of work, I had started to see progress to my goal of becoming a full time artist. In March, I was hosting a pop up show curated by Kristi Capone in my studio, called Stitcherotica. I had just hosted Valentween 2020 at ArtLofts. I had won my first grant from the St. Petersburg Arts Alliance and had also taken the arts business course that they offered. It was all looking up…

And then, on March 13, 2020, ArtLofts closed its doors to the public due to Covid 19.  Downtown St. Petersburg was deserted due to curfews. ArtWalks, shows and events stopped. The pop up show that was supposed to be featured for one month was trapped in my studio for three. 

I studied how to better represent myself via Etsy and updated my long-neglected shop.  I revamped my website. I applied for the artist assistance grant and was awarded $500 to keep my studio going during the time of no sales. Show after show was cancelled, and attempts to sell art were few and far between.  

For a time, I thought about giving up, but my heart knew I did not want to do this. I truly love the arts and everything that is involved in it. I have invested over 20 years of my life in the local art scene. One pandemic was not going to take this away from me. 

Read the Full Story Here

– Brandy Stark, Visual Artist and Educator

Work during the nine months of Covid-19 “shut-in” was two fold.

In my studio, oppression was the prevalent feeling. I felt a force relentlessly pressing down on me. This resulted in no clarity of my creative field that I so readily had access to. I did attempt to start a work that reflected this mood. The color is black. The vision was and still is vague. I am still feeling my way through this work. This picture is of the formless beginnings of this work.

It is odd for me not to have clarity at this stage of the project. But accepting this state of affairs is exactly how this work is at this moment.

On the other hand, I had works installed in two shows. One titled White Falls: TIA at the Tampa International Airport that will run until February 2021.

WhiteFalls at the Tampa International Airport

The other titled, Branches a 4-paneled tapestry that was installed at the Creative Pinellas Annual Exhibition in Largo. This work is to be shown until the end of January 2021.

An early woodcut by Akiko Kotani is on the cover of her husband Bernie Freydberg’s just-published book

– Akiko Kotani, Visual Artist

I’d say the biggest shifts in my artistic practice in 2020 had to do with moving online/going virtual. This precipitated a huge re-thinking of how I engage with dance – as a maker, as a performer and as an educator.

While it has been a challenge, it has also been an incredible opportunity for creatively problem-solving ways of thinking about space, design and live performance within strict public health guidelines.

It has shown me what I have taken for granted about being in a studio with other people – how valuable contact and connection are to understanding each other and creating work, especially in a social art form like dance. 

2020 has also made me even more aware of the preciousness and precariousness of being an artist, and I feel a deep responsibility both to the field and to the people in it. It is vitally important to me to continue to create work and provide opportunities for dancers in the community, particularly artists of color. 

– Andee Scott, Choreographer and Educator

photos of REVERBERATION: NIGHTLITE by Charlotte Suarez

Storyboard image – Khumbula aboard Della III

As the Great Conjunction and the solstice occurred within hours of each other at the end of 2020, I shifted from writing as my primary artistic practice to drawing storyboards to go with a script I’ve been developing.

A recognizable rendering is within my set of skills at this point, which can work fine for a storyboard. The plan is to work to refine my facility at drawing to gain precision and style over the course of storyboarding.

Drawing has always been more taxing than writing for me, so this is a welcome challenge.

– Susana Darwin, Filmmaker

I’m not sure my “artistic process” has changed this past year, but 2020 was definitely a nasty year, with both the pandemic and President Trump poisoning the air we breathe.  Maybe I spent too much time wearing a mask. Also, I turned 88.

The result is my poems are getting darker (and “harder” to finish), the subjects turning naturally toward isolation in times of soiled politics and pandemic.

Though 2021 isn’t off to a very good start (I got my vaccine shot yesterday), I’m hoping the new year may refresh both my energy and attitude.

Still, here’s a depressing rondeau for your consideration.

Happy New Year!                      

Nightcap at 88

In old bodies the mind’s
a sick mouse nibbling the dry rind
of resentment  a shinbone
of pain  and the bitter acorns
scattered as our daily grind 

We thought we’d never get this blind
with our vaunted wisdom  but find
it’s just a slick trick  a thick foam
in our old bodies

darkling the light   Who designed
this candlewick  neither kind
nor logical  as we postpone
peace  sipping our nightcaps alone:
attic mice sniffing the brine
of our own bodies?

– Peter Meinke, Florida Poet Laureate

Through a Zoomscreen Darkly
For my friends in recovery

While quarantined due to COVID-19, I’ve been writing a novel based on a rehab scam known as “The Florida Shuffle.” Consisting of defrauding insurance coverage and incentivized recruitment of rock-bottom addicts, this practice has become increasingly prevalent since the passing of the Affordable Care Act and the tragic rise of the tri-wave opioid epidemic (pharmaceuticals,  heroin,  fentanyl). In my research, I have read myriad accounts of the struggles and travails of recovery, redeemed by the singular blessing of clarity, and the initiation into seeing the world anew. It is of them I wish to speak.

The novel’s epilogue, as is, comes from Denis Johnson’s “Looking out the Window Poem” and reads

If I am alive now,
it is only

to be in all this
making all possible.  

Johnson, renowned for his 1992 collection Jesus’ Son, describes the glory of recovery, praising quotidian details (the sounds of traffic, of neighbor’s voices, his breath) with an appreciation that only arises from one deprived. Recovery is indeed a gift, we learn, a robust gratitude that turns every sky into a miracle:

Look out our astounding
clear windows before evening.
It is almost as if
the world were blue
with some lubricant,
it shines so.

I worry about my friends, as I call them, people I merely know from their handles on Reddit, Whisper, Twitter, SMART Recovery. Looking through Zoom screens for AA, looking out windows at the world denuded and gray, the world they lost and recovered. What must it be like to spend 30 days, or 3 months, doing the hardest thing a person can do, which is to grow into a different brain, only to have that world taken away from you, leaving you without anything to replace it with? I don’t know, but I hope the new sober world continues to “shine so” for my friends.

James McAdams, Writer and Educator