Art Live: Coping with coronavirus continued

Almost half way through another month of quarantine, artists continue to look at alternatives to make an income and to exhibit their work. Two artists share their thoughts about this unprecedented time.

Chester County artist Merrill Weber usually works in Spring City Mill Studios.  She continues to paint daily, but hasn’t visited her studio for two months. Weber is fortunate to also have a studio in her home where she can work these days.

Inspirational Women Merrill Weber

Asked about how the shutdown impacted her schedule Weber said, “For over a year, I have been working towards completing a collection of over 50 oil paintings in preparation for my Inspirational Women solo exhibition at the Chester County Art Association (CCAA). The incredible women I have painted overcame hardships, broke records and blazed trails, shattering glass ceilings along the way. This week would have been the opening. Instead, the show’s dates are unknown.”

Not one to sit still for very long, she is now painting well known superheroes including Dr. Anthony Fauci, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Admirably, Weber volunteered to paint a portrait of a front line healthcare hero at no charge and was matched with an ICU nurse at the Royal Hospital London. And, with the proceeds from sales of several new paintings, she is cooking and delivering hot meals to the elderly in her community who are living alone. Weber also has plans to offer an online painting workshop for all skill levels and is teaching herself animation, coding and learning what it takes to better manage Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

Asked about her thoughts on the future of the arts Weber said, “The near future will rely heavily on technology. In addition to posting my work daily on Facebook and Instagram, I recently began sharing my paintings on TikTok. My Etsy shop has been active and I continue to run the Southeastern Pennsylvania Artists group on Facebook. Rather than reinventing the wheel, we help one another.” For more information about Southeastern Pennsylvania Artists visit the group page here. For more information about all of Merrill Weber’s offerings, visit her website here.

Hanna Vogel, an artist living in Philly, was teaching at several art centers before the shutdown began. Asked how it impacted her schedule she shared the following, “Many of my spring classes were canceled. Some were moved online but my class for blind and visually impaired people can’t be taught online. I also teach private lessons from my studio, and those have all been either postponed or moved online. All my upcoming exhibitions through July, with the exception of an outdoor show this June, have been postponed until the fall or until 2021. I was scheduled to teach a summer workshop at two craft schools, but both have been moved to 2021 since pretty much every craft school has cancelled their 2020 summer schedule all together.”

Hanna Vogel's Studio

Vogel’s daily routine changed dramatically at the onset. She said, “During the first couple weeks, I didn't have much motivation to work in the studio. I think I needed the time to come to terms with the changing world and process what it means for my life and my work.” Vogel’s studio is in her home and she is now working at least half days during the week for an outdoor commission titled Art Paths to be placed at Buck Hill Falls in the Poconos. She is glad that at least some work will be seen in the near future. She is trying to come to terms with the uncertainty of her future in the arts while still generating opportunities for herself.

Asked if she’s made any changes to the type of art she makes, Vogel said, “I'm thinking about an idea for new work that relates to the effects of the pandemic, specifically life lived mostly in isolation and indoors (for many people anyway), and what it feels like when the structures -- physical, social, economic, etc. that we've learned to rely on prove to be unstable.” Vogel worries about the future of smaller art institutions and funding for artists saying, “I know that people will always create and appreciate art but program cuts will make it much harder for anyone to support themselves as an artist. It will also make art more elitist and less available to many people.” For more information about Hanna Vogel, visit her website here.

"Amongst the Trees" by Jim Gears at Station Gallery

Station Gallery in Greenville, DE, now open with limited hours, is hosting a Spring Group Show featuring calming works by Michele Foster, Mary Ann Weselyk, Nina Hope, Laura McMillan, Kim Hoechst, Rosemary Castiglioni, Jim Gears and Minori Thorpe. Hours are by appointment. To arrange for gallery tours, framing orders, and curbside pick-ups email info@StationGallery.net.

A new online show is opening on May 13th at Gallery 222 in Malvern featuring Wendy Prather Burwell, Alicia Asselta & Joanne Mark. Events include a virtual happy hour with owner Andrea Strang on Thursday May 14th from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. and virtual Table Talks will take place from 2:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. on May 20th with Wendy Prather Burwell and on May 27th with Alicia Asselta. Visit here for all the details.

Whatever you do this week, support the arts!!

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About Constance McBride

A native of Philadelphia, Constance McBride lived in Arizona for 16 years, where desert observations made a transformative impact on her work as a research based visual artist. Passionate about contemporary art, she was actively engaged in the local arts community. She served as a board member for several art organizations, managed an artist collective/gallery space, curated and juried several exhibitions and wrote for two arts publications in Phoenix. She taught ceramics at Shemer Art Center and Museum and exhibited her work both locally and nationally. McBride returned to Pennsylvania in 2018 and resides in Chester Springs with her husband and two dogs. In West Chester, she serves as a board member at The Art Trust Gallery at Meridian Bank and teaches ceramics at Chester County Art Association. She also teaches at Clay on Main in Oley, PA. She is a member of American Craft Council, Philadelphia Sculptors, and Women’s Caucus for Art, Philadelphia Chapter.

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