Pandemic improves appreciation of art | Fall Arts Festival

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Toward the height of the pandemic, around the 5 a.m. shift change, the windows were opened as medical staff and hospital workers were cradled by a weary, frightened and saddened audience with songs, bells. and shots from pots and pans. The world continued to endure COVID-19, and New York City wasn’t the only place to offer this plea.

As communities large and small, rural and urban sheltered in place, closing the doors to the daily cadence of all that seemed certain and predictable, so emerged grace in the midst of sorrow.

“I think of that expression from the song in New York that reminded us that we are still human and it’s something that can bring us together,” said Kathryn Mapes Turner. “What we found was that the world needed art. So we pivoted right away – because now is not the time to shrink – and we answered a call to fill the world with art and serve as a refuge, ”said master landscape designer and owner of Turner Fine Arts to Jackson.

Turner has launched a worldwide appeal for the Tetons.

“We asked artists to paint flowers,” Turner said. “What I realized when we were all closed was that the painters could still paint and the flowers were still blooming.”

The “Pandemic Art Show” sold out – online, of course – and in June, Turner hosted a “When Flowers Bloom… So Does Hope” recall show, featuring petals and paint.

“It was exactly what people needed, and the feedback I got from artists was that it was useful and healing,” Turner said of the painting during the pandemic. “It brought them back to a sense of grounding in light of all the horror of the news.”

Visitors flocked to the Tetons last summer to find solace in the natural world, but, like everywhere else, Teton County, Wyoming and the city of Jackson continued to see increased cases of COVID-19 and even deaths from the new virus. The county public health department has become a head of state, leading the way with masquerading mandates and offering the kind of sobering advice needed in a time of uncertainty and contagious political polarization.

Jackson has one of the highest concentrations of artists and art galleries in the state, and local artists were not immune to the chaos of the pandemic. Like us, many worried about their physical and financial health.

“The art exhibitions have ended and that ended a lot of income for me,” said Fred Kingwill of Fred Kingwill Watercolors of the pandemic shutdown as the tourist season dawned last summer. .

“I didn’t have a lot of invoice for the supplies. It wasn’t a choice we had, ”Kingwill said of the economics of the art world. “But a lot of the arts are not tied to economics. Many of us don’t produce art to make money, we feel it, we have things to say.

The dawn of the era of Zoom and online education proved to be a major shift for many artists, including master landscape designer Scott Christensen (see page C6 for the story), who produced a 115-volume tutorial index for budding painters. Turner herself found the online teaching exciting, running classes with 90 students, who could all see her demonstrations at the same time. Kingwill, on the other hand, found the time he lacked before the pandemic to attend lectures and classes he had dreamed of.

Jackson’s animal artist David Berry found that people forced to live with bare walls in their homes while waiting for a vaccine to send them back to the office wanted art and they wanted it now.

“So many people were working from home and had to look at their walls that some of them said, ‘Let’s take works of art,’” Berry said. “I have had several people who contacted me about my work and said that.”

Berry acknowledged that Jackson can feel like an island protected against the nation’s standards.

“Being in this field is an advantage,” Berry said. “Western art is unique and it is a prominent place for great galleries. But if you produce a good product, no matter what is going on in the world, it will attract customers. It always starts with a good product.

Other artists, like Emily Boespflug, have found her pivoting a little differently through the pandemic.

“I have done a lot more orders,” she said. “I did a lot of little things and worked for friends. I also did “bereavement commissions” for widows and people who lost their pets during the pandemic. People connected to art in different ways and found peace in it.

Boespflug, who also gave birth during the pandemic, is working on her first big show, which is set to hang at the Center for the Arts in the summer of 2022.

Perhaps most of all, with the light shining at the end of a long tunnel, the extra time to just practice may have been everyone’s saving grace.

“I was able to refill my cup because of my new schedule,” Turner said. “Coming back to the practice of creating art has been very helpful, remembering that it’s not all about the product, but the practice and falling in love with the practice of painting. To be able to continue to create – how to give life. ??

“A lot of us don’t produce art to make money. We can feel it. We have things to say. – Fred Kingwill painter


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