First Friday Artists Share What It’s Like to Shelter in Place: Part 3

Photo courtesy of Shay Huth, Hand-Crafted Jewelry

By: Molly Ressler

This is Part 3 of an ongoing series featuring local artists who are taking part in Virtual First Friday. 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 are participating in Friday, April 17th’s virtual event have 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. 

Rica and Jason of Sacred Poets - Paintings & Poetry 

Website: https://www.sacredpoets.com/

Instagram: @sacredpoets

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

As artists involved in multiple communities, the impact is felt on every level. Creatively, we’re exploring new ways to work and share. In our home, one of us is still working, one of us had travel plans put on hold, and the third, being a working artist, has had all gigs suspended and is restructuring all offerings and potential income streams. Self-care and home based economy is the new daily artform.

Like everyone else, we’re adjusting. 

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

We’re huggers. It’s challenging to communicate our love for family, friends and new acquaintances now. As we’re relatively new to social media, iit doesn’t work well as a substitute for physical contact. Positively, we’re finding ourselves using body language differently - eye contact, facial expressions, posture, laughter, booty bumps. There’s anxiety but it’s kind of unifying. 

What's the best thing about sheltering in place? 

Too much of anything can make one an addict. This whole thing is a forced fast which, done with care, can be medicinal. We’re eating better (Rica’s a culinary genius), we’re spending less and taking life into account with more gratitude. 

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

Jason: Less, actually. And it’s shifting. I didn’t grow up with the internet. Although most of the jobs I’ve held wouldn’t have been possible without it, it’s largely been a distraction for me. I’m thankful for an excuse to step offline. But I also understand growth and the need to adopt new tools and skills. Hip-Hop and Spoken Word Poetry are perfectly suited for digital transmission so we’ll see what manifests in the coming weeks. Maybe some Zoom work. But the focus is staying healthy. 

Rica: Having spent a lot of time in distraction mode online myself in the past year, I’m finding that spending more time at and closer to home has inspired me artistically and has focused the content and context of how I express myself. I launched my wellness page @laughtastelove, and have stepped back from posting on my other business and personal pages, unless it feels valuable and pertinent to this time. I spend less time in the rabbit hole, looking at other people’s work and more time in my studios, finishing pieces, planning curriculum and curating past collections, and now writing grants, so that art and all my expressions can be the focal point. I’m also singing and playing music much more!

How can the community support your work?

Buy our books, artwork, shirts and hoodies. Invite us to speak, perform, workshop and exchange online. Subscribe to our website, like our page, and share what inspires you. Our mission is all about love and healing. We’d love to hear from you. Please and thank you.

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

Absolutely. In the near future, we’ll all share a laugh over toilet paper. Public art will flourish, with or without funding ( hopefully with) and those of us who survive financially and emotionally will have the tools to withstand any global event. Art is essential, and this an opportunity for artists worldwide to organize, up level their business skills and be seen by a global audience.

Stacy Pappanastos of Turq and Terra - Polymer Clay Jewelry 

Instagram: @turqandterra

*Note: Stacy had to bow out of Virtual First Friday but we hope you'll still check out her art!

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

The biggest change for me is having all my events, markets, and pop-ups cancelled. It has made it very difficult to support myself. Most of my income comes from live retail events, so that has completely shut down and has quickly forced me to focus on social media marketing and my online presence much more...Other aspects have not felt that different for me because I work from home so I already spend a large portion of my time there.

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

Although I am generally an introverted person, I truly miss not being able to see my family and friends and give them all big hugs. I’ve adapted by doing a lot more phone calls, zoom meetups etc... but it just doesn’t really replace that important physical interaction.

What's the best thing about sheltering in place? 

Wearing sweatpants all day! No bra, no makeup, messy hair....

But seriously, I think just slowing down has helped me overall. I feel more focused on the project in front of me, and I  can just snuggle up with my cats all day and create fun art!

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

Yes, since I’m not interacting with my fellow makers and the community at events right now, I’ve found myself reaching out more online...whether it’s through comments, messages or more posts to Instagram and FB or by having frequent zoom meetups.

How can the community support your work?

We are in this together, so we need to continue to come together to support each other. Whether it’s an artist or another type of small business we need to help each member in the community.  If you can buy a product or service from someone locally versus ordering it from a large corporation online, put forth the effort and look for those products and services provided by your fellow community members. Recommend products to friends or family members. Share posts and products online for your followers to see...and even smaller things like likes, comments, and followers make a huge difference to myself and other artists!

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

In all actuality I am relatively new to the artist community. I had previously been a teacher, who loved to do arts and crafts, but just recently had I fully immersed myself into making a living as an artist...so I was just learning when this pandemic hit. So, truthfully I’m not sure....but just like with anything else, we will have to adapt. It may take some time and some bumps and bruises, but in the end we will make it work! 

Randie Silverstein - Glass

Website: https://www.etsy.com/shop/Luckydogarts / https://www.luckydogarts.com/artist-statement

Instagram: @luckydogarts

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

Day to day my husband’s and my life hasn’t changed in that we both always worked from home, and he retired back in the fall. So we both still do many of the things we used to do. However, my work/art life has completely changed. When my husband retired, we planned that I would be able to focus on my artwork more than I had been previously. I started a new body/line of work, which features more public art, and demands a new audience. I started getting some great solo shows around town. This past year I showed at R. Blitzer Gallery, had a month long solo show at Oswald Restaurant, and had planned on April First Friday at the Food Lounge as well as an installation at a Northern California music festival, both cancelled. I’ve applied for Open Studios here in October, but that is not clear if it’s a go ahead. I get up each day thinking how can I make this world a better place… But by noon I'm staring at my white boards that layout my year’s goals, wondering how to get it back.

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

The worst thing personally for me, is that my husband and I are both high risk and so I can’t go to stores and shop for us. I have to depend on other people and I don’t like to do that. I am very self sufficient. I liked to dance, and did Zumba with the same group of women for years. Now all group exercise classes have been cancelled and I’m really very homebound. I’ve been ordering farm boxes instead of grocery shopping for produce and so I have been doing a lot of cooking and baking. And some of the meals have been really really good! 

What's the best thing about sheltering in place? 

The best thing about sheltering in place is that we’ve had some very long intimate zoom calls with friends and family that we don’t usually have time for, I’ve been really getting creative in the kitchen, and I’ve been getting a lot of sleep! It’s also created a pause, where there’s no pressure, no deadlines, nothing on the calendar. It’s been an interesting time to fill, and I haven’t been any less busy. I spend a lot of time on home improvements and back burnered projects.

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

I have not been online with my artwork that much. I’ve been obsessed with keeping up on research and news about Covid. I’ve been obsessed about how we come back together after all of this. My goals for the [glass] discs has been to put them in a public setting. But with people not going out, or going to public places, it hasn’t made a lot of sense for me. I’ve surprisingly sold a few small panels on my Etsy page, in the last month. So while my focus has been the installation work, I can’t marginalize the small panel work. 

How can the community support your work?

I’ve been finding it difficult to justify being supported when so many people are homeless and hungry and losing loved ones to Covid. You can’t eat art. I’ve been finding ways to support my community rather than be supported.

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

I think the impact will be life changing. From craft fairs to trade shows to Open Studios Art Tour. This will affect how artists sell their work. Museums, and galleries where people gather for an opening of a show— places where people gather— that will not be happening either. I am lucky I have my own studio in my home. At least I can still safely make the work, but glass is a craft that usually takes some collaboration. I work with both metal and wood artists, who make stands and help me with displaying the glass. Also at some point, manufacturing of the glass has shut down and there will be a supply chain issue. When I run out of glass, and no more is being made, I’ll have to look at that. 

As an artist, I work out of a sense of hopefulness, my intentions are to make art that encourage feelings of happiness. Of joy. I get that feedback about my work a lot. As a person, I am not feeling that right now. I am feeling down, not hopeful and a bit discouraged. So it’s hard to make feel-good art. Some artists do their best work out of angst. I have not been someone who works that way. Perhaps that will change for me now, but it still remains to be seen. I usually find meaning and feel very connected to making the world a better place through my art. I am hoping that feeling comes back soon. 

Mariah Hart - Digital Collage 

Instagram: @hey.moe.co

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

The shelter in place order has been kind of exciting for me, because being an artist can feel selfish, you spend so much time at home/in your studio by yourself. This felt like the perfect opportunity forced to be alone, and create.

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

The hardest part I find with this shelter in place order is definitely the lack of outside inspiration. I’m craving a day at the beach doodling or sitting at a table outside downtown drawing strangers and having meaningful or meaningless conversations with people that spark an idea for a sculpture or painting. Also not being able to go to the craft stores.. that sucks. 

What's the best thing about sheltering in place? 

The helpful thing that has come out of the shelter in place is actually trying to use up materials that I do have laying around. Using up scraps that I’ve cast aside saying “someday I’ll use that for something”

How can the community support your work?

My community has been SO supportive! I’ve been doing these digital portraits that people seem to really be enjoying which warms my heart, and during this really hard time we all need to turn to artists for comfort and an escape from the chaos, or just whoever we are quarantined with haha. It gives me an escape too, it’s been forcing me to create when I could just be sitting alone filled with anxiety about this situation, instead I’m making art of all the beautiful people that I miss on the outside.

Kristen Hutson - Mixed Media

Website: https://www.etsy.com/shop/HutsonDesign

Instagram: @hutson.design

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

My life has dramatically changed.  Like most artists, my art has never been the full source of my income, I had a full time job as well. After the Shelter in place order the business I worked for cut my hours in half, which means my income has been cut in half. In addition to this, all local events are cancelled, meaning that Artists can't make an income through pop-ups, makers markets, etc.  However, I feel extremely fortunate that I still have a job, and can still sell online, as I know that there are plenty of people who are fully laid off. 

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

The worst thing about sheltering in place is the anxiety I carry for our industry.  Art & small business are the first industries to go under during challenging times. Art is "non-essential" for survival of the human body, however, I fully believe it essential for the survival of our minds, souls & spirits. It is now more important than ever before for artists to share their stories & messages; the world's heart is thirsty for it.  

What's the best thing about sheltering in place? 

It took awhile for me to accept the reality of my situation, but once I did, I began to see the beauty in solitude. The best part of sheltering in place has been "unboxing" my inner creative. I feel that social situations, such as work, family gatherings, weddings & funerals, all require people to filter our true selves.  We "box-in" parts of ourselves. We compartmentalize depending on the social situation we are in. Now, with social distancing and solitude, I have had so much time to unbox who I really am. I have found clarity in reflecting on what I need as an individual, and discovering creativity that I didn't know I had in me. 

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

I am absolutely expressing myself online more than ever. I have been sharing the story behind the pieces I paint. I am realizing the community around me is thirsty for the story behind the piece, not just the visual. In the past, I had felt resistant to utilizing my online platforms. Social media was almost "negative" before this pandemic. I noticed that individuals would go on "social media cleanses" by logging out for months at a time. Now, it is a blessing. Social media is one of the ONLY ways we can safely share & stay connected through storytelling.
 

How can the community support your work?

The community can support my work, by participating in my storytelling. I want other artists to understand my work, feel my story, and be empowered to share their own stories! If you are financially stable during this uncertain time, you can support my work by purchasing it online! I have an apparel line on Etsy where every piece of clothing is made to order and shipped directly to your door. I also sell my original artwork, prints, & stickers on Etsy. Additionally, if you like my style, you can commission me to make a piece unique for you or a friend!

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

To counteract the negative financial hit, I can only hope that COVID-19 has a positive impact on the artist community. I hope people utilize this time to discover their inner creative. I hope we emerge on the other side of this with more art and artists than ever before. I hope the artists that are struggling financially use this solitary time to create masterpieces that will benefit them in the future when the community has income again. I believe this time will give us the understanding that art and small business bring heart and soul to the community. Without art, the community would feel hollow and lifeless. 

Up next, hear from our April 24 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.