My COVID-19 Survival Toolbox
Richard Reeves, Jr.
Director of Arts and Culture
I am an artist. I have created art since my schooldays, in graphite, pastel and watercolor, and as a photographer and videographer. All along I have sought out and been open to new forms of artistic expression, especially involving new technology. I work at my art and enjoy my work. I also am a serious collector. With my husband Michael, I have acquired visual artworks in the broadest range of media—and in numbers that defy us to cover every last square inch of our wall space at home. Art can be uplifting, thought provoking, strange, enraging, alarming, frightening or just plain beautiful. My appreciation of art and of the community of working artists has always helped both to ground me and to nurture my growth as a person. So it is no wonder that, with the world now in quarantine, my survival toolbox relies so hugely on this highest of human endeavors and liveliest of human associations.
Like an extended family, the arts in Detroit give me the support, safety, and sanity to keep going at what I do. But the strangeness of the “new normal” and the urgent but unanswered questions that loom over everything have steered my art in directions I might not have taken before.
Here’s an example. At this time, Hannan Center is offering two six-week online art courses, each meeting for 60 minutes once a week. They are Art and Design 101 and Fine Arts. Art and Design 101 is led by artist/instructor Nancy Wolfe and meets on Thursdays at 10:30 a.m. This course is perfect for artists of all abilities. It incorporates practice in basic art design with art philosophy. Nancy usually ends each class with a poem.
Fine Arts meets on Fridays at 12:30 p.m. and also is accessible to artists of all skill levels. This class is lead by longtime Hannan art instructor Jim Puntigam. Jim maintains a cool, comfortable vibe in his classes. He introduces and leads students in basic to advanced techniques, and helps each participant to discover the unique fine artist within.
As Hannan’s director of Arts and Culture, I enjoy sitting in on our art classes and producing new work along with our students. This post includes photos of some of the work that I was inspired to create while participating in pilot sessions of these two new virtual courses, as well as some examples of my latest photography.
Also in my survival toolbox, and broadening my view and practice of art, are my Facebook art groups. Two of my favorites are “Detroit Fine Arts Breakfast Club” and “Art in the Time of Corona-V.”
The Detroit Fine Arts Breakfast Club is a weekly meeting of artists and collectors, most of whom reside in the Detroit Metro area but who include members based around the country and world. There is no fee to join. The DFABC gives artists a place to show their work, learn from each other and from experts in the business of art, and gain valuable exposure to many of Detroit’s most influential collectors and gallerists. Until recently its regular meetings were held on Mondays from 5 to 7:30 p.m. at a restaurant, Noni’s Sherwood Grill, on Livernois Avenue in Detroit. Yes, the Breakfast Club meets at dinner time!
Now the DFABC meets online via Zoom, each week at the same time. The meeting format is mostly the same as when we met in person. It starts with an introduction of all new participants; then members are invited to make announcements of upcoming arts events and exhibits; and, finally, artists with new work to show have two minutes each to present up to two pieces and discuss them. “Show and Tell” is the most exciting part of the meeting, as much of the art sells on the spot to interested collectors or is traded between artists. One tradition we have had to drop for the time being is the in-person raffle of an original work contributed by a different member each week and won by someone present for the five-dollar price of a ticket.
The live meetings of the DFABC are augmented by the ongoing forum of artists and collectors who share their pictures, news and commentary about art on the Club’s Facebook page.
“Art in the Time of Corona-V” is a new Facebook group for artists and lovers of art. It was created as a virtual gallery where artists can react to and comment on the coronavirus pandemic through their art. The page posts many topics to explore through art, like self portrait, studio visit, sketchbook Sundays, still life, collaboration, printmaking and many more. This group is made up of artists from all over the world but is heavily supported and utilized by working Detroit artists and Detroit art lovers.
So my art is helping me get through this and, in a way, I am helping my art get through this too.
When I simply want to put down my pencils and brushes and camera, and relieve stress by indulging in the pure enjoyment of art, I take virtual tours. Many museums and art galleries around the world have placed works from their collections online. Some of my favorites are highlighted below.
My advice as to what to include in your own COVID-19 survival toolbox is anything that makes you happy and keeps you safe. There are many support groups available online; and Zoom and virtual meeting services are a great way to social distance but still connect.
If you need assistance connecting with any of the resources I mentioned, drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
All the best,