First Friday Artists Share What It’s Like to Shelter in Place: Part 4

Photo courtesy of painter Jessica Pidcock.

By: Molly Ressler

This is Part 4 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 the artists who participated in Friday, April 24th’s virtual event had to say. 

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Montana Fowler - Painting

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

Instagram: @montanafowler_cs_art

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

I am a graduate student at UC Santa Cruz, so the main change to my life has been a transition to online classes and being a remote TA.  Luckily my department has been extremely supportive in providing the extra help needed for the change to teach remotely, though I know other TAs have not been so lucky. 

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

I miss seeing friends and family, but keeping in touch with people through calls and creative remote events helps.

What's the best thing about sheltering in place? 

For me the best thing about sheltering in place is the gained project time. I am very fortunate to not have distractions at home and to still have my job, so time I used to spend going places is now spent working on more projects. I know that for many this is not the case, and for them I hope we can return to normal as soon as it is safely possible. 

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 more online, but in general I don’t have a big personal online presence.  I post about my art when I finish pieces. I have seen a lot of creative online expression during quarantine from other folks.  My friend is a comedic writer, and she has been making hilarious skits and posting them on Instagram.  

How can the community support your work?

The community can support my work by following my art instagram @montanafowler_cs_art or by visiting my etsy shop (https://etsy.me/2V6Q3Vp). 

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

We are all concerned for the effect this will have on the economy, which will in turn have a strong effect on artists. I know many artists support themselves by working in the restaurant industry. I am concerned for how this will affect business for galleries and artist residencies as well. One of my favorite art professors is a performance artist. I watched her performance on Instagram Live that was about the frustrations she had with my alma mater not providing health care to adjunct faculty. Many artists are without health insurance. I hope that through strong government stimulus small businesses and laid off workers will be able to pull through this crisis. Until then, if you can, donate to charities that are helping those vulnerable during this time. 

Janina Church - Copper

Website: https://om-maker.myshopify.com/

Instagram: @ommaker

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

Being quarantined has allowed me to step back and really evaluate the importance of my art and being an artist in my community. When the SIP order first happened, I felt my art was sort of useless in this time of crisis. Knowing that people, including myself, were having to deal with more important things like losing jobs and such, I felt so uninspired. As I watched the days unfold, and witnessed the increasing amounts of stress happening around us, I realized that art is needed now more than ever, to soothe us, allow us to escape and lend hope.

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

The worst thing about SIP is the uncertainty surrounding us. Also, having all my markets and events cancelled, where I mostly sold my art and connected with my artist community.

I meditate a lot to help me deal. Practicing being in the moment and gratitude help.

I have also been focusing more on my online presence and have weekly Zoom support meetings with fellow artists and makers.

What's the best thing about sheltering in place? 

I have a lot of time to be creative.

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

Yes. I've been fine tuning my webpage to increase online sales. Something I've been meaning to do for a while. 

How can the community support your work?

Follow me on my Instagram. Comment, like and share my posts to help with exposure. 

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

Absolutely. I am not exactly sure how though. It's hard to imagine us just popping back into life the way it was after all this is over. We cannot come back from an event like this without some sort of shift. I am curious to see.

Annamarie Lopez- Oil Paint

Website: https://annaisabellaart.com/

Instagram: @annaisabellaart

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

My life was changed pretty drastically. As the shelter in place was set in order many businesses closed including the one I worked for as a day job. I'm no longer working a job now that isn’t my art. It was a bit of gain as well as loss. 

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

The worst thing for me personally is the uncertainty. Even with the small crutch of a stimulus check there’s still a struggle financially. Other than finances the worst part is not being able to see my family. Texting and calling each other helps, but not knowing when we’ll actually get to be in each other’s company is still difficult. 

What's the best thing about sheltering in place? 

Having all the time to work on my art and making it my full time career has been the best part of all this. I’ve never had the chance to give my craft and passion my undivided energy and attention. 

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

Yes, I have definitely put more of myself into my social media accounts, I was already doing this before just not as often as I would have liked to. Mainly I have been doing this through Instagram stories where I’ll talk to my audience. A few clips of me just discussing what I’ve got going on in the studio and any shop updates. I felt it was important to put my voice and face out more than ever since we don’t have the option to do this in person these days. I’m also starting to put out more content on TikTok which I feel involves a lot of self expression to make the content grab the viewer's attention. 

How can the community support your work?

There are a few ways to support me and my work. The easiest one being to just engage and share the content I’m putting out on social media with their followers or whoever they feel would be interested in what I’m doing: likes, comments, story sharing or feed reposting are all great ways to support artists and their work in the digital world. They can also find all of my original artwork and art prints through my website if they want to go beyond  sharing what I’m doing with others online. 

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

I really think COVID-19 can have an impact on the community. Mostly just in how we navigate this new way of networking and coming together to celebrate what we are creating. Even if this were all to stop and things went back to normal, we would have what we experienced to consider when moving forward.

Jessica Pidcock - Acrylic Paint

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

Instagram: @jessicapidcockart

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

I’m a stay at home mom with a toddler so having my husband home has been a game changer. I feel very lucky that he works as a pipe fitter over the hill so there is no work he could do from home. That means I now have child care whenever I need it and can basically work on my own schedule for the first time in years. I am extremely grateful for the ability to do my work at my pace right now as well as taking on commissions and planning for the future of my business and my family. Now it all just depends on my level of focus and self-discipline. haha. 

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

The worst part for me is seeing the suffering of others. I see and hear all of the struggles people are going through and it’s overwhelmingly tough. I feel the stress of my family being across the country and that my grandmother hasn’t seen her husband in 7 weeks since his nursing home is on lock down. There is a palpable tension of uncertainty in the air and it takes a lot of focus to drown that out and allow yourself to feel positivity and security.

What's the best thing about sheltering in place? 

Spending so much time with my husband and daughter has been wonderful, especially for her. She’s so happy to have our whole family together all of the time. I’m sure the transition back to “normal” will be toughest on her. She’s gotten the opportunity to connect with her dad in ways she never could while he was working long hours over the hill. Even the dog is happy to have us all together!

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

I expected that I would but I don’t think I have been. That is partly because, while I’m working almost daily, I’m generally working on one large project and making smaller, less finished pieces between sessions. I tend to post more finished pieces than ones in progress so I haven’t felt like I’ve had a lot of new content. The new thing I am doing is posting more videos of me working. Technology is not my forte so I’m a bit behind the curve with this, but I’m finally figuring out the easiest ways for me to share more via video and live streaming. 

How can the community support your work?

Our community, and the artist community especially, is so special here. I’ve never lived somewhere with so many opportunities and so little mean-spirited competition. Everyone seems to have their own voice and support each other which has been so beautiful to be a part of! The best way to support me, if you feel so inclined, is by buying originals and prints or by commissioning your own piece. When that isn’t an option, even just supporting me online is extremely appreciated. Every like and comment helps my online presence and every time someone tells me they enjoy my work, it makes my day! 

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

As mentioned, our community is very supportive of the arts and I see even more appreciation and participation now, I think. People have turned to the arts to comfort them and inspire hope and I hope that that continues even more than before COVID. There probably will be a move to have more classes, especially online, so that people can enjoy making things themselves and expand on what they’ve done on their own during this time. I also hope that this all results in even better turn out at events, like First Friday.  

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.