First Friday Artists Share What It’s Like to Shelter in Place: Part 2

Photo courtesy of Anastasiya Bachmanova of Follow the Sun Art .

By: Molly Ressler

This is Part 2 of an ongoing series featuring local artists who are taking part in Virtual First Friday. (Find Part 1 here.) We asked the artists what it’s like for them to shelter in place—how it’s impacted their work and personal life and how they think it will impact the artist community as a whole. Below, we hear what all five artists who participated in Friday, April 10th’s virtual event had to say. 

Stay tuned for responses from artists from every Virtual First Friday, and make sure you follow us on Facebook and Instagram for more information on our virtual events and a full list of the upcoming artists. 

McKella Jo - Illustration and Design

Website: https://mckellajo.com/gallery

Instagram: @mckellajo

How has your life changed since the shelter in place order took effect? 

My life has completely turned upside down since the shelter in place order went into effect! In many ways I am grateful for the opportunity to reexamine my business and the way I utilize my time. The morning this became official I was laying in bed in my small studio, already way too many episodes of "Chopped' deep, and I realized I needed a change of scenery or I was going to lose my mind. I hopped in my truck with my two dogs and drove to San Diego to shelter on my family's growing micro greens farm. My role here is to cook three meals a day for nine people, shovel dirt and plant seeds. Happily, I spend the rest of my time painting.  

What's the worst thing for you personally about sheltering in place and how do you deal? 

I imagine most artists can relate to having slower sales in the months following the holidays and anticipating that, we all try to save and prepare for that lull. The Shelter in Place order couldn't have come at a scarier time for artists who rely on spring time Craft Fairs, Pop-Ups, and First Fridays as a main source of income after the quieter months. 

What's the best thing about sheltering in place? 

A change in perspective! After a week or so of moping about all my events and mural commissions being cancelled/ postponed, I decided to make the best of the situation. I created a challenge for myself to make a painting a day and sell those through Instagram at a really affordable price, knowing everyone needs art even more than right now but may be anxious about spending money. I have also been offering a lot of online Sales/Discount events  and I am blown away by the response and support from my community. Additionally, I am relishing this time to be with my family...cooking, gardening and playing games together with very little agenda. I let go of my need to “fill" my schedule and have fallen into a creative and peaceful rhythm. 

Do you find that you're expressing yourself more online during the shelter-in-place order? If so, how?

Absolutely! I tend to be a little shy with words online and get stuck when trying to express myself. The Quarantine has pushed me to be more honest and open about my roller coaster of emotions, as I know we are all feeling a similar sense of confusion and self-reflection. I appreciate and am learning from others who are honest and open as well.

How can the community support your work?

I am so fortunate that the community already has been! I am grateful beyond words for the amount of support and encouragement I've received to keep pursuing my art even in these uncertain times. So please, keep following along on my journey! Tell your friends about my Painting a Day and consider sending a care package to someone you love made up of art and products from local businesses. Every purchase and kind word means SO much. 

Do you think COVID-19 will have a lasting impact on the artist community? If so, how? 

I am optimistic that most inspiration and growth is born during challenging times. Artists are resilient and flexible, and this is an opportunity for us to adapt to a more virtual platform. Although I get so much from in person interaction at events, I am learning to connect on a deeper level through online communication and that allows me to meet people globally, not just in my little Bay Area bubble. 

Jennifer Wildermuth Reyes - Animal Artist

Website: https://wildermuthreyesart.bigcartel.com/

Instagram: @wildermuthreyes 

How has your life changed since the shelter in place order took effect? 

I have two school age daughters,  one is in 1st grade and one is in 2nd grade. I am now homeschooling them during the day with online help from their teacher. Not only do they need my help and guidance to learn remotely they also need my emotional support during these challenging times. My spouse is also working from home now but is required to work full time without any opportunity to help out with childcare and homeschooling. As a result the time I have to spend in the studio working on my art has been dramatically reduced. I still have evenings but usually by the time the kids go to bed I am very tired. I'm reminded of when the kids were tiny needy babies and I never had any time to myself. It's not that bad but sometimes it's close. When I do have the opportunity to get a nice long stretch of time in the studio I feel so much better.   

What's the worst thing for you personally about sheltering in place and how do you deal?     

Feeling helpless and uncertain about the present and future. I find that exercise and creating does help process these feelings.    

What's the best thing about sheltering in place?      

Living in a beautiful home in the redwoods with plenty to enjoy and do around us. Being able to create a positive environment for people sheltering with me to thrive in.   

Do you find that you're expressing yourself more online during the shelter-in-place order? If so, how?    

I don't think I am expressing myself a great deal more than I usually did online,  however I am observing others expressing themselves online a great deal more than I usually did. Sometimes it's a nice break and I enjoy seeing what others are up to but other times it's my attention seems splintered and hard to focus and I find myself online for no reason,  just to kill time or bad thoughts. I am finding it harder to find the balance between positive and negative engagement online. The line is blurry and the boundaries harder to find.  

How can the community support your work?      

Just the way they are doing, with positive online opportunities. And when this is over, really making to the effort to support artist at the brick and mortar galleries and stores.   

Do you think COVID-19 will have a lasting impact on the artist community? If so, how? 

Who knows for sure what the future will hold but I do indeed think that these times will have a lasting impact. We will be creating different art after this, more introspective and future thinking perhaps. The audience will hopefully have more a appreciation of artists and other creatives after this when they realize how important art is in giving value to ones life.   However on the negative side of things, It will take our economy and the world's economy a VERY LONG time to recover. When people are worried about how they are going to pay for their next meal they don't have the luxury of buying art. These times will change us.   

Ariel Perez - Painter

Instagram: @che1pibe

How has your life changed since the shelter in place order took effect? 
My life hasn’t changed much because right before the shelter in place directives I had been on leave for a couple months due to a family situation. Now I don’t venture out much even for groceries (we get most of them delivered), and that’s probably the biggest change.

What's the worst thing for you personally about sheltering in place and how do you deal? 
The worst thing is probably not being able to see our children, and especially our granddaughter who we used to see at least once a week. I miss her three year old curiosity and joy of life!

What's the best thing about sheltering in place? 
The opportunity to use the time I don’t spend commuting in doing some art. I work full time as a teacher, so when classes are happening, I have very little time to paint, but now the amount of time is bigger and I try to use it painting a bit more art than usual.

Do you find that you're expressing yourself more online during the shelter-in-place order? If so, how?
Not significantly. I usually post on IG my latest work and other fun activities I like to do, so I’m continuing with that practice as usual.

How can the community support your work?
Just by checking out what I do, saying “Hi”, and enjoying what artists in general are producing at all times.

Do you think COVID-19 will have a lasting impact on the artist community? If so, how? 
I think it is creating new connections and networking that can produce a more vibrant art community in the future. We have a very active and vibrant art community in Santa Cruz, but I think that after we come out on the other side of the pandemic, we’ll probably have stronger bonds and will have an even stronger reach than before.

Brooke Mallory - Drawings, Paintings, Photography, Film

Website: https://www.brookenicolemallory.com/

Instagram: @bnmworks

How has your life changed since the shelter in place order took effect? 

My life at first didn't seem to change that drastically, but now as time goes on and more rules are being implemented every week it seems like I'm sure that will be changing soon. Going out to restaurants and bars was already my guilty pleasure so it's been a bummer missing out on that, but I know it'll all be worth it once we tackle this.

What's the worst thing for you personally about sheltering in place and how do you deal? 

I guess if I had to pick, it would be the fact that I don't react to others' negativity very well, so since I'm currently with my family inside it's been a struggle being the optimistic one for once while still trying to inform them about what's going on.

What's the best thing about sheltering in place? 

The best thing about sheltering in place is that I honestly no longer feel forced or inclined to see people or go to places that I don't really want to. 

Do you find that you're expressing yourself more online during the shelter-in-place order? If so, how?

Yes, I definitely have much more time now to make work and think up wild ideas, so I guess that could be the silver lining to all this for me personally as an artist.

How can the community support your work?

The community can support my work by commissioning me for any and all art, graphics, or web creation projects they might need or desire. I'm not stuck up in terms of my pricing so if anyone usually expresses interest in a piece I've created I'll still work with them even if they can't afford the typical canvas prints.

Do you think COVID-19 will have a lasting impact on the artist community? If so, how? 

Yes, I hope that in the end people will remember how artists were the ones who got them through the stress and hard times. Whether it's listening to your favorite musicians or looking at art, making crafts, etc... Sadly, I think it takes pandemics like this to remind people about how important the arts are in terms of public school funding and more. 

Anastasiya Bachmanova - Fine Art and Design

Website: http://www.followthesunart.com

Instagram: @followthesunart  

How has your life changed since the shelter in place order took effect? 

My day-to-day has not changed drastically as I am already quite a homebody. Most days I spend working from my home studio or home with my two-year-old daughter. The biggest shift was my work life. 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.

What's the worst thing for you personally about sheltering in place and how do you deal? 

The worst thing, personally, is not having as much access to nature. I was beginning to plan my spring adventures - camping among wildflowers, a week in Joshua Tree, backpacking with friends, even just surfing and hiking locally. These liberating activities are my biggest source of joy and fuel for my creations. The adjustment had me feeling down, but I have been doing my best to enjoy the little things. Hearing birdsong in the morning, enjoying a backyard glass of wine in the warm afternoon sun, watching my daughter delight in puddle jumping after it rains. Social connection, despite physical distance, also does wonders for the spirit. I love finding creative ways to enjoy my time at home!

What's the best thing about sheltering in place? 

I am so touched by the community response. All of the inspiration that brings light to a dark time - people sharing their music, art, yoga & fitness, laughter. People helping each other and taking this seriously. The best thing is that with this compassion and action, we will overcome the pandemic, hopefully with minimal loss. I always try to stay positive, and I know so many people are suffering. They are consistently in my heart. What is happening around the world is beyond our control, but we can make a big impact in our small community here in Santa Cruz by being kind and following guidelines.

Do you find that you're expressing yourself more online during the shelter-in-place order? If so, how?

Absolutely. I thrive on connecting with my audience through art. Luckily I am pretty tech-savvy so I am embracing the opportunity to grow my online presence. I am looking forward to Virtual First Friday. Also I have been doing weekly donation-based panting demos on Facebook Live. We still need to connect with other humans during this time of isolation, and social media is a great place to do that.

How can the community support your work?

Go check out what I do! If you enjoy my work you can join me on Patreon (www.patreon.com/followthesunart), where I offer exclusive gifts like digital art downloads, painting tutorials, & art goodies shipped to you. Or join me on Facebook for a virtual class. My webshop (www.followthesunart.com) is stocked with art, apparel, and other fun stuff. Follow, like, comment on, and share my work - it is all immensely appreciated!

Do you think COVID-19 will have a lasting impact on the artist community? If so, how? 

I don’t think any of us know how things will look on the other side of COVID-19. I worry about the negative impacts on the community like the hit to the economy, sickness, and grief. I hope the positives will outweigh this though. It is nice to see families spending more time together, neighbors helping one another, the planet getting a breath of fresh air. It seems like a reset to our fast-paced lifestyle. Things will certainly be different, but I can’t say how.

Up next, hear from our April 17 Virtual First Friday artists. Subscribe to our newsletter to ensure you stay in the loop. 

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.