Cape Ann ARTwaves: Episode 1
With hosts Jackie Ganim-DeFalco and Kristine Fisher
Cape Ann is an arts and culture mecca. It’s part of the fabric of our region and contributes to the creative economy. Cape Ann ARTwaves, produced by 1623 Studios, provides local coverage on the impact the novel coronavirus pandemic is having on artists and arts and culture organizations. The show is hosted by Jacqueline Ganim-DeFalco and Kristine Fisher.
This transcript was edited for clarity and length.
Jackie Ganim-DeFalco: Welcome to Cape Ann ARTwaves. The purpose of this show is to showcase individual artists and arts organizations to highlight what’s happening behind the scenes. I’m proud to co-host with Kristine Fisher.
Kristine Fisher: Thank you, Jackie.
Jackie: Our guests today are Jo-Anne Crawford, who runs SeARTS, and Loren Doucette, Operations Manager at Rocky Neck Art Colony and a local artist. Jo-Anne, it seems obvious now, but we’re in the midst of a time that we’ve never experienced. How does a group like SeARTS start to think differently about the organization?
Jo-Anne Crawford: The first thing that changed is that our weekly e-blast newsletter had to change. Suddenly, everything was canceled. No one wants to get a newsletter that says that. So, we put together resources for artists to address how we can help them right now. We’ve been reaching out to artists and figuring out how we can assist them with online work. Like what kind of resources do they need and do they know how to get on platforms like Zoom? They need help with all of this. This is the big restructuring that we’ve done.
Jackie: How’s the response been?
Jo-Anne: We’ve had a great response to the e-blast because there are so many resources for artists and the patrons of the arts. seARTS also is promoting cultural and artist organizations in the area. I’d say that individual artists have had the hardest time because many of them do not feel comfortable in this online world. Many are not that technical and we’ve found that Zoom, FaceTime, and Skype can take some time to get used to.
Jackie: Loren, this situation is a real opportunity to build community in a different kind of way. How are you thinking differently about the arts community?
Loren Doucette: We’re making a strong reach out to our membership. What do you need? How can we support you? How can we challenge you to keep going with your art? We have a weekly newsletter. And in place of our weekly drawing class, that was really thriving, we do weekly art challenges instead. They’re different each week, and we post all the entries on our website.
Jackie: What kinds of challenges have you put out there?
Loren: One example was to draw a chair that you’d like a visitor to sit in because no one can have visitors right now; another is drawings from your car.
Jackie: You are providing resources for artists, too.
Loren: We have a huge list of funding for artists, places where they can submit applications.
Kristine: Let’s switch gears and talk from an artist’s point of view. Loren, how have you found this time? How has it influenced your art practice? Are you focused? Not so focused? I’ve been talking to artists who are all over the spectrum.
Loren: I’ve been all over the place in a very truthful way, and all over the place on my canvas. I’m allowing for these huge, massive ups and downs. What’s happened is, with the extra time and extra space and energy, my art is more abstract and huge, like 70 x 80. It’s bolder and more colorful and way more abstract with lots of expression.
Kristine: What are you hearing from some of your artist friends in terms of their response to their own practice?
Loren: I find that some people are very motivated at this time, especially the artists who work other jobs, like Liz Bish, for instance. She is a chiropractor. Her practice is stopped except for emergencies and now she’s working on her art full time.
Kristine: I’ve been on Zoom calls with artists who make up the Experimental Group of the Rockport Arts Association and Museum. We had 15 people on a call last week – Nella Lush leads that group – and people were all over the map. Some artists are really thriving and moving forward with abandon, and then others are just having a difficult time. Some are focusing on their art and others are expressing themselves through cooking or just other practices.
Jo-Anne: I’ve talked to a lot of people who are very anxious and not allowing their art to come out. seARTS added something called The Work of the Week to the e-blast that profiles one or two artists from a genre and I’ve had a hard time getting people to feel good about it because they are anxious.
Kristine: Speaking for myself, I have found my own practice to be healing even while feeling anxious. I don’t know if I’m making good art, bad art, or questionable art, but it feels good and it’s my way of providing some structure to my day. It’s a coping mechanism, largely.
Jackie: This isn’t going to last forever, so what’s next?
Loren: Well, the Cultural Center at Rocky Neck has an exhibit up right now called the Rocky Neck 2020 Members Show. As soon as we open for business again, it’s just waiting there for folks. And another one in the queue is a portrait show called Beyond Likeness. Each day we post an image of our members’ art on Instagram and Facebook.
Jo-Anne: seARTS is moving forward with its Art on the Rocks show with a call to artists. Hopefully in June it will be safe to be art lovers again.
Jackie: For me, we haven’t decided on the Cape Ann Artisans Tour scheduled for June 6 and 7, yet. We have a meeting on April 23rd to decide what we’re doing about that.
Kristine: I am working on digging in and creating work for a show in October at the Cultural Center with seven other artists, and we’re very excited. So this is another great way to use this time.
Jackie: Thanks for joining us on Cape Ann ARTwaves. Please follow seARTS on Facebook and the Rocky Neck Art Colony on Facebook and follow these organizations on Instagram, too. Also, follow 1623 Studios on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Linked In.