A PLACE FOR ME TO FIGURE IT OUT.
Art Under Quarantine
Left: Me working from home. Right: Sunset rides with my partner.
For the life of an arts administrator, working from home can be a blessing, even though it is difficult to be separated from your co-workers. I have been doing programming for The Center for the Arts for almost three years now. The typical week involves sitting at a desktop in a crowded office for forty hours of the week and then spending the evenings making dinner and going to sleep. Regular activities like cleaning the floors and doing laundry get put off constantly. Having the time to spend with loved ones and getting to see sunshine and exercise can be but dreams when you become wholly engrossed in the work that you love. And that's just it, I love the work.
Now we find ourselves forced to stay home and work less (those of us who are blessed enough to be working in this time of crisis). My “Shelter in Place” workday consists of having coffee and breakfast with my partner followed by some emails. Then a virtual staff check in every day, which is to say more actual checking-in then we allow ourselves time for on a regular basis. Around noon I might go outside into the sunshine and do a cardio workout, or do some yoga to stretch out the sore muscles from the day before and then have lunch (not at my computer like I usually would). I’m only halfway through my day and have already been better to myself and spent more quality time with loved ones than on a regular basis. After lunch, I might move my workspace to the couch for a change in scenery and hunker down for a couple more hours of emails, phone calls, and spreadsheets.
When I’m done, I’ll read a novel I’ve been trying to finish for a couple of weeks until my partner is done with work. When he gets home, we’ll go for a sunset ride on his Harley, cook dinner together, listen to music, enjoy a glass or two of wine, watch a movie, play a game together...there are so many things that we have taken for granted because we are wholly focused on working. Constantly. I’ve been getting projects done that I’ve spent months pushing off. I’ve been spending more time with loved ones and more time on self-care. All the while still getting the work done, because the arts industry doesn’t actually have an “off button.”
Still, there are things this new and temporary way of life are lacking. I used to have in-person meetings with members of the community to talk about shows, fundraisers, gallery exhibitions, youth summer camps, etcetera. I can’t take a stroll through the contemporary art gallery or visit the local businesses in downtown. On any given night of the week there might be live music in our venue and I could enjoy musicians and artists from around the world. On a Thursday there might be a gallery opening where I could connect with artists and art-lovers while enjoying a beverage at our beautiful bar and lovely appetizers provided by our hospitality staff.
The arts are not just an industry I work in. Art is how I live my life. Whether it’s sculpting and painting in my studio, writing music with my band, organizing youth arts summer camps, contracting Michael Franti to perform in Grass Valley, installing an exhibition in The Granucci Gallery, or meeting with Creating Communities Beyond Bias to organize a Love Walk event, everything in my universe involves art, creativity, and most of all human connection.
Art is not just a pretty picture on a wall or a band you pay to see. Art is the foundation of culture. It’s a conversation, a question, and an expression of the self and the world. Art is what has moved society forward through every major crisis the world has seen: revolutions, wars, plagues, and depressions. On one hand, art is a reaction to the state of the world and it comments on and questions what is happening. On the other hand, art influences and directs culture. It causes people to think differently and improve our experience of life. What better thing for a pandemic than the arts? I never thought I’d say this, but we are so lucky to be living in a digital age. We can participate in art and performance through devices, whereas we might otherwise be contained solely within the walls of our homes.
Now is the time for reflection and prioritization. It’s for getting healthy, being creative, and spending time with those whom you choose to be within six feet from because, if anything, you’ve already infected each other.
Be well <3