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