By: Molly Ressler
If you can say there’s a silver lining to a pandemic, then it’s the wellspring of creativity and compassion that’s blossomed in its wake like wildflowers after a fire. Our local artists are creating and teaching art to bring much-needed hope, beauty, and humor to our community and beyond. Art may not be considered essential under COVID-19 guidelines, but can you imagine coping with the current anxiety, fear, and paralyzing uncertainty without the arts? All of us are turning to the arts, from painting and crafting to reading and writing, playing music and dancing to sculpting and sewing, to both process and escape our present reality. Five Santa Cruz artists in particular are actively creating and sharing their art during this dystopian experience, providing that silver lining to what can sometimes feel like an otherwise unbearable situation.
Danielle Peters and Human Shaped Animal
Danielle Peters and Rachel Barnes of Human Shaped Animal are two of over 800 artists from 60 countries taking part in HOME, a Stay-at-Home Mural Festival for the Planet. Each artist was asked to paint a mural representing how they believe COVID-19 will impact us and our planet. Peters dedicated the wall above her desk to a mural titled, ‘Enter the Chrysalis.’ Peters describes the meaning behind her painting in an Instagram post: “My mural captures my own ponderings in the upheaval of Covid-19. What are the parts of us that are going to make it through this chrysalis stage intact? What is going to be left behind and what new surprises will emerge?”
Rachel Barnes, the artist behind Human Shaped Animal, painted two faceless humans against a peach-colored sun, arms intertwined with a mohawk of jungle plants sprouting from one side. “[The murals] are visionary canvases for a brighter future,” writes Barnes. “Now, more than ever, it is clear that environmental and human health is one.”
HOME is Presented by PangeaSeed Foundation, Sea Walls: Artists for Oceans, Whanganui Walls and Alternative Arts Initiative. Check out how artists from around the world have transformed both the interiors and exteriors of their homes with colorful murals celebrating our planet at https://seawalls.org/activation/home/.
Barnes and Peters are also both part of The Art Cave, an art collective and gallery in the old Wrigley Building on the Westside. Several of the collective’s artists, including Barnes and Peters, have translated their art onto face masks, for sale online.
Follow the Sun Art
Anastasiya Bachmanova, like many artists, is used to spending most days at home in her studio and sharing her work online, but COVID-19 has pushed her to further embrace digital platforms as a gallery and workshop space. As Bachmanova shared in our recent Shelter in Place Series, the pandemic has forced a big shift in how she exhibits her work: “My art business supports me and I have a busy schedule participating in events, markets, exhibitions, and teaching art classes. Everything I had scheduled has been canceled. It was a shock at first, but I have been adapting to find new ways to share my work.”
She now offers weekly painting demos on Facebook Live (donations appreciated but not required) and just finished teaching a virtual class on acrylic painting. (Hopefully she’ll offer more virtual classes in the near future!) Through her Patreon, you can gain access to digital art downloads, painting tutorials, & art goodies shipped to your door.
Linda Cover at The Tannery
Linda Cover is known for her Watershed Art Studio Classes for kids at The Tannery. During the shelter in place order, Cover has continued these weekly classes online through Zoom. She has also put together a free series of 14 art lessons on the redwoods through YouTube. Kids can learn both sketching and watercolor techniques and become more confident artists while also learning about the redwood forest ecosystem, from scrub jays and squirrels to banana slugs and beetles. Cover includes audio recordings of the featured animal and plant samples for the kids to reference as they draw. These 20-minute videos are a great way to keep little ones occupied while parents get some work done or a fun activity to do together as a family.
Molly Ressler is a writer and content marketing consultant based in Santa Cruz. She lives with her husband, daughter, and pup in Seabright and loves sharing her community’s vibrant culture through her writing.