2020 may be best summed up with the words from the Grateful Dead “what a long, strange trip it’s been." The year started out with life as usual and then bam – a pandemic hit our community, state, country and the world. The Covid-19 pandemic has had an impact on everyone. Artists and non-artists alike are adapting to a world of new normal. These changes keep us at home more with less interaction with others. Today we will share how some artist have been impacted by the virus and what this means for their creations.
We contacted local artists to see how they feel about the virus and how it has affected their artwork. Local potter Genivee Stein has embraced the time to increase her knowledge base. Musician Geovanni Jean continues playing music solo however misses jam sessions with fellow musicians. Fiber artist Betty Blessin has been spending time learning to work with new mediums and creating new pieces for the upcoming holiday season. Allow us to introduce you to these artists and share with you their thoughts about the present and the future.
Genivee Stein, potter
Human contact is so important. I have enjoyed the alone time to ponder ideas, to cruise Pinterest, and watch instructional videos.
On the other hand, the actual work I do has to be on my own and practiced with some regularity. I value having a home studio and I do enjoy working alone on projects. However, being with fellow potters is such a treasure. The inspiration and encouragement from being around others playing in the mud nurtures and stimulates my creative juices and reinforces my love of making something beautiful and often useful that gives another pleasure to hold.
I have enjoyed the alone time to ponder ideas, to cruise Pinterest, and watch instructional videos. Slowing down has forced me to look at everything a little longer and make me more aware and grateful for the life I enjoy and not just as a potter.
Giovanni Jean UNCG Jazz Studies Major
Covid as a musician has definitely been a struggle. We as musicians rely on that physical connection between players to grow and develop our skills. Without that, the music that we practice becomes very bland, and even the inspiration to practice can be lost in some moments. Even though we have virtual bands that we can participate and play for, the flow and soul of the music is completely gone. There is just an energy that occurs when musicians work together face to face to work on a musical goal that can’t be reached on a simple zoom call. I can’t wait for the day where I can safely connect with my fellow jazz musicians and play music the way it’s supposed to be played: as a side by side community.
Betty Blessin, fiber artist
When the shutdown first started it was strange to be home all the time. I still work so I was used to seeing and interacting with people throughout the week and then on the weekends through interaction with fellow artists. It was a huge adjustment to deal without the social interaction. Once I got the work from home under control, I started thinking what direction my artwork would take. I normally create art quilts but was not motivated to create any new ones. I knit at night to justify the time I spent in front of the TV. I also made some beaded starfish to use as pendants. Eventually I decided to try a new media – metal clay.
Fortunately, I was able to take in person classes to learn the metal clay techniques and even became a certified instructor (but I need more practice before I even think about teaching). I found it very pleasing to create my own silver jewelry and enjoyed the synergy in the classes.
I finally had the time to enter works in juried exhibits, so I gathered up previously made art quilts and entered a couple of exhibits. That seemed to do the trick to inspire me to start planning new quilt works.
So now I am back to work some at my office and am now creating new art in multiple media.
MAC at the Market
When the shutdown went into effect, we worried how the Mayodan Arts Center (MAC) would survive. Classes were no longer an option as we could not open to the public. In order to help support local artists and keep the MAC in the public presence we decided to go out into the community. Starting in June the MAC set up at the Western Rockingham Farmers Market. It was safer to set up outdoors, social distancing was observed, and sanitizing stations set up. The important thing is we were able to represent several artists by displaying and selling their work. We were able to let folks know about the MAC. The MAC was at the market most Saturdays June through October. We plan on being back next year!
by Anne Wade, Art in the Garden
It’s a tough time to be a working artist!
Well, let’s be honest, it has never been easy. But with the COVID-19 pandemic, it has really been a lot worse.
Artists create because they are driven to express themselves. There is no higher form of flattery than someone wanting your artwork. That being said, where can they see it right now? Artists are not doing shows, gallery openings, open studios, or even classes. Yes classes!
A lot of artists, most of my friends eke out a living from teaching. Those classes can be at a center, school, gallery, from home or now, the new venue, online. I have heard so many protests at the beginning of the pandemic where artists didn’t want to teach online….”they can’t see the techniques, I don’t know how to use the equipment, they won’t come if they can’t touch it, where will they get their supplies, can I see them so that I can critique what they are doing?” Those comments were just the start of the dialogue.
This summer, the feelings started to change. “Well maybe I could do some online classes?”
The closer we got to October, the more panic I have heard about the Holiday season…”where will I sell my art?” Those reluctant to go online with the sales are now joining with others to figure out this new market. Oh yes, we have all had/have the webpage, but do we really sell a lot there? Why? We built it so “they” will come, right? Nope. You must drive people to your website, create interest, not just wait for people to stumble on it.
I will be the first to admit, I am not a good promoter of my own art. In fact, many who know me, don’t know I am an artist. I rarely use that title. I did pottery for years and sold on the show circuit. I do stained class, wood, jewelry, dye silk scarves, photography and paint. I do sell some, but it has not been my life’s focus…yet. I am better at promoting other people’s art and being the perpetual student.
So for this holiday season, here is my advice – for the price of free (so maybe you get what you pay for?)
Shamelessly self-promote…Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and any other free platform you have.
Set up your website to accept payments! Paypal is fine.
Drive people to your website by posting pictures that create interest. So.. what if you are not a good photographer…well you can hire someone if your items are expensive ones. If that is case, get a photographer. If not, practice. Take your cell phone or digital camera and check the lighting, place items on a background that is not distracting, and shoot several pictures. Select the best one. Put sizes, measurements, and color in the description. Tell people what they are buying and why they need it or to give it as a gift.
Make delivery easy. We all have a Wal-Mart parking lot, if it is local or see what it costs to ship your item and include not only the postage, but the packaging as well in the cost.
Start NOW! Wal-Mart is selling Christmas ornaments and decorations. Get a strategy and move forward. There are galleries that are open, websites to build, classes to promote, and most of all, your art to sell!
Handmade for the Holidays
What to join a group that will help you with pick-up, delivery, and shipping? Art in the Garden in Reidsville can help. We are offering a deal for you to join a professional selling website we will promote online and in the gallery for $20. You send us your photos and we take care of the rest. We will get the pieces from you that sell and ship them. (or deliver if they are in the county). We also offer you the opportunity to be in the gallery for Handmade for the Holidays, no money down and a gallery fee of 25% when your art sells. We handle the tax for you. Visit our website for details. https://artinthegardennc.org/ or like us on Facebook!
Jenny called the meeting to order at 12:05
Present: Fine Arts Festival Association, Theatre Guild of Rockingham County, and Rockingham County Arts Council.
Absent: Piedmont Folk Legacies (excused), Mayodan Arts Center, and Art in the Garden
The Alliance discussed Grassroots Grant applications. Fine Arts Festival Association (FAFA) is engaging one of the their scholarship winners on a project. Theater Guild of Rockingham County (TGRC) is developing a series of webinars, soon to be announced.
FAFA received their Alliance dispersement check on time. Since Mayodan Arts Center and Art in the Garden were not on the call, could not confirm they received their checks.
FAFA and TGRC discussed topics for upcoming blog entries.
Meeting was adjourned at 12:20 pm
“Want to get a lump in your throat? Answer a kid when he asks if we're going to have guitar lessons next week.” Jenny Edwards, Rockingham County Education Foundation
I’m sure anyone who’s ever been involved in the work of a non-profit knows the feeling of that lump as you await word on whether you will receive funding to continue whatever good work it is that you and your organization do. That’s what Jenny is talking about here, as our organization, Piedmont Folk Legacies, waits to hear back from grant applications that will fund our already popular P.I.C.K. (Piedmont Instrument Classes for Kids) program for the upcoming 2020-2021 school year.
For those who may not have yet heard of this wonderful program, P.I.C.K. was created as an after school program to provide third, fourth and fifth grade students with instrument classes in fiddle, banjo and guitar, instilling in them an appreciation for the unique musical heritage of our area. An initial class of 30 excited students at Leaksville-Spray Elementary School began their musical journey under the leadership of teachers Christen Blanton and Bret Hart. Funding, provided largely by the Reidsville Area Foundation and HomeTrust Bank provided quality instruments and teacher pay to give these kids a chance to learn they would not have otherwise received.
All was well until Covid-19 hit. Just three days away from their first ever public performance, to be held with the UNC-G Old Time Ensemble, the P.I.C.K. program and public schools came to a grinding halt in March of this year. Having to break the news of the cancellation to these precious children almost broke my heart. We had to find a way to help these kids continue on their path to mastering their instruments. Knowing that online was our only option for classes, we started working on a plan to make that happen.
Teaming up with Jenny Edwards, we were able to put together a plan for a 5 week summer session of P.I.C.K., with these resilient children picking back up where they left off, almost as if no time had passed. Due to other obligations, the initial teachers were unavailable, so new teachers, Katie Griffin and Kaleb Overby bravely signed on to teach what those familiar with Zoom meetings might think impossible – teaching instrument lessons via Zoom.
If only you all could have experienced these classes as these dedicated kids dealt with computer screens freezing, noisy distractions inherent in online classes, and technical issues of muting and unmuting – all with concentration and patience you wouldn’t think normal for this age group. I am so proud of them all and the progress they’ve made!
Jenny and her co-worker, Lori, at the Rockingham County Education Foundation, worked out the logistics and technical aspects of providing these lessons online, while I went to work contacting parents, encouraging the students, and starting the search for funding to continue. It takes a village, and we are so fortunate here in Rockingham County to have such a wonderful village! I can’t wait for the day when I can stand on stage and proudly announce to a LIVE audience – Ladies and Gentlemen, please welcome, the musicians of P.I.C.K.!! You all are in for a treat!
Louise Wright Price, President
Piedmont Folk Legacies, Inc.
P,I.C.K. (Piedmont Instrument Classes for Kids)
Charlie Poole Music Festival
RoCo Art Alliance Meeting
Jul 23, 2020
Organizations represented: Fine Arts Festival Association, Art in the Garden, Rockingham County Arts Council
Absent: Piedmont Folk Legacies (excused absence), Mayodan Arts Center and Theater Guild of Rockingham County
Chair: Debbie Moore called meeting to order at approximately 12:10 p
Jenny provided a recap of the RoCo Art Alliance purpose. She also updated group on planned webinars with The Poetry Cafe and Julie Crezenzo (clay). She forgot to mention Meda Howell is planning a webinar as well.
This was Kathyn's first meeting and she had questions about the funding for artist stipends. Kathyn mentioned that the artists affiliated with Art in the Garden are accustomed to receiving stipends for classes. Jenny noted that the financial support to organizations included the understanding that those organizations would provide webinars by either artists on their board or volunteers. Jenny suggested that board members of art organizations recuse themselves from receiving stipends in order to maintain a sense of fairness. Once proof of the webinar concept is established, she recommended a discussion with all the Art Alliance members on how to utilize the $1,000 available in artists stipends.
Debbie updated the group on webinars that FAFA is planning with Brenda Sutton and perhaps Stesha Warren. Debbie is planning a cooking webinar on the 4 elements: fire, wind, water & earth.
Meeting adjourned at approx. 12:35
NEXT MEETING: August 6 at 12 pm - Ashely Hickock, Mayodan Art Center, Chair. Jenny will email Zoom invite to the group.
Rockingham County Arts Council receives $15,950 from Reidsville Area Foundation to support a strategic partnership between leading arts organizations across Rockingham County.
Funding will enable three organizations to keep their doors open through the end of the year, and another to continue a youth music program through the summer. Local arts organizations rely on fundraising events and fees from classes in order to stay open; however, the health crises caused by the COVID-19 pandemic created a sharp drop in traditional revenue sources.
“Without rescue funding, we were looking at losing major pieces of our local arts infrastructure,” said Rockingham County Arts Council Executive Director Jenny Edwards. “We wanted to do more than merely save the organizations so we challenged ourselves to consider how the arts could come out of the pandemic stronger than ever.”
In addition to stabilizing four organizations financially, the project intends to build resiliency among six critical art nonprofits across Rockingham County through the creation of the new RoCo Art Alliance, an initiative started by Rockingham County Arts Council, Fine Arts Festival Association and Piedmont Folk Legacies.
RoCo Art Alliance’s first collaborative project is a series of artist/maker workshops to document life in Rockingham County during pandemic. The virtual programs are intended to connect participants, give voice to their experiences during the pandemic, and create a body of work to be publicly displayed when the health crisis is over.
The artist/maker workshops will be held online and will be free and open to the public. The project’s website is under development at www.rocoartalliance.org.
The founding partnership organizations of RoCo Art Alliance are Rockingham County Arts Council, Fine Arts Festival Association, Piedmont Folk Legacies, Mayodan Arts Center, Art in the Garden and Theatre Guild of Rockingham County. Organizations wishing to join RoCo Art Alliance are encouraged to contact Jenny Edwards at firstname.lastname@example.org or Debbie Moore at email@example.com. A 501(c)(3) status is not required for a group, organization or agency to join the Alliance.
Additional support for the project comes from Sheetz, Inc. through their support of Piedmont Folk Legacies P.I.C.K. program and North Carolina Arts Council, a division of the Department of Natural & Cultural Resources.