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Some Gifts from the Pandemic for Artists

by Ellen Maidman-Tanner

Here we are, all hunkered down and isolated from the world, including from our artist friends, galleries, art schools, and museums. No doubt these are tough, sad, and challenging times. I am are one who always seeks to find the silver lining in the dark cloud, so here are some noteworthy art world gifts to share:

  1. Virtual Modeling Sessions Even if you are not a figurative artist, there is something magical about logging into a live model session with other artists for a couple hours to draw. There is a sense of community, and a knowledge that through your typically minimal payment or contribution, you are helping an art model survive. These sessions are held during the day and at night as well to help artists fit the session into their schedule.

  2. Zoom/Virtual Gallery Openings I had a delightful experience recently of attending a show opening, which featured interviews with the artists. I saw work I really wanted to see in person. If the gallery has its act together, the images are good.

  3. Art Education: Famous artists are not immune to the financial hardships of these times and some have turned to on-line teaching to augment their incomes. I have been participating in a class taught by NY artist Alyssa Monks. It has been a unique and rewarding experience, with classes on par with top-notch art academies. (Alyssa is a graduate of the New York Academy of Art and has studied with Vincent Desiderio and Jenny Saville to mention just a couple.) You can attend live, or wait until the session is put on a longer-term platform (such as Vimeo).

  4. Virtual Interviews with Artists Some cultural organizations, including galleries and museums, are airing real-time interviews with famous artists. Real-time means you can type in your questions. Many of these are subsequently put online.

  5. Juried Exhibits These are still happening around the country and the really good news is that many of them are virtual shows which means no packing, shipping and insurance costs. This is a savings of literally hundreds of dollars, while still allowing for sales and augmentation to your bio.

  6. Museum Talks and Classes Cultural Institutions like so many other organizations in our society are taking a huge financial hit with the pandemic. And they are getting creative to remain relevant. Many museums are offering talks, interviews, and ‘strolls’ through their galleries.

  7. Art Supply Stores These too are transitioning into the virtual universe, offering classes on a host of activities and techniques. Some also are having deep discount sales to offset their losses.

The bottom line here is that there is lots of good for artists within the gloom. I have discovered much of this activity on Instagram and Facebook. (I confess to being quite active on those platforms.) You can try reaching out proactively to galleries, museums, and models with whom you have worked, etc., to find out what they are doing to remain active. I hope I have added some good news during a time when there is too little of it.

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