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Alabama physician exorcises his coronavirus demons through art –



This is the story of a physician and his first COVID-19 patient, a small business owner with seven stricken employees, and a controversial artist. They’re all the same guy.

Meet Dr. Lynn Yonge, a man so disturbed by the coronavirus he gave it a face: His own.

Yonge, proprietor of Bay Medical Family Practice, has practiced family medicine for over 20 years in Fairhope, Alabama. The mild-mannered doctor is also a vibrant presence in the arts community, having founded Gulf Artspace in 2002. Gulf was a non-profit organization dedicated to giving a voice to contemporary, cutting edge artists. The shows were often dark, eclectic, political and … funky. Many were in response to major news events such as 9/11, the war in Iraq and the BP oil spill. Some had simple one-word themes – Betrayal, Home, Fear, Boxes – giving free rein to the imagination of artists.

The non-profit is no more, but Yonge revives the spirit of Gulf when the muse strikes. Coronavirus struck Yonge’s muse hard.

The Artist

“Nothing stokes the creative juices in me more than having a message to send,” Yonge said via a Telemedicine video call on April 21. “This demon coronavirus. The images of it prompted me to look through junk piles for things that are treacherous – rusty saws, fan blades, nails, sharp things. I just imagined evil, death, sticky, mutating, red, faces, hemorrhage, smoke – all sorts of deadly things popped in my head as I looked through stuff to make things with. It’s serious. I keep conjuring these images of risky things.”

So he created a series of triptychs – art on a panel divided into three sections. “Three of the works have chunks of metal I pulled out of the ashes of fires,” he said.

The doctor faced his fear – literally.

“I started this pandemic self-portrait. I used material that I’ve had for years that was just laying around. There was a piece of copper that I used for a face mask. It was incinerated in a fire that left this beautiful imprint of colors. Just found some stuff that seemed to work. Rocks with eyeballs in them, a piece of tin that looked like eyebrows and a nose. They all popped together. But it wasn’t done, there was still something missing,” he said.

“And then I tested positive for the coronavirus,” He grinned. “And I was able to finish it.”

He added the word “RESULTS:” and a decorative wooden cross, a plus sign, just below the face on the left side of the chest area of his ominous self-portrait totem structure. Results: Positive.

The Doctor/Patient

“As the virus approached we looked for how we could take care of our patients and protect them at the same time. So we went to the Telemedicine option we are talking on right now,” Yonge said. “For the first two weeks when people were told to stay home, we arranged appointments on the phone, and it went pretty well. It was designed to also protect our staff from getting the virus.

Coronavirus in Alabama: Complete coverage

“We took every precaution we knew how to do – hand washing, distancing, isolating ourselves – that kind of thing. And somehow the virus made it into our office and got seven of us – seven out of nine tested positive. All of a sudden, our entire office was sick.

“The patients had been out of the office for two weeks prior to that so it had to be one of us that brought it in. Any one of us could have been positive and not known it. That’s part of the equation – 25% of the people who have coronavirus do not have symptoms.

“I cannot figure for the life of me how I got it. Except through the air.”


“On a Saturday afternoon I started having knee pain – joint pain is one of the symptoms. I’m 65, so I’m bound to have a little knee pain, but it was unusual for me. And I had a light cough. I was working outside, doing some burning on my property, so I thought it was from smoke inhalation.

“I didn’t feel bad. I had been taking my temperature which had been running sub-normal, around 97 degrees. Then it jumped to 100. I knew at that point I had it. So I quarantined myself to the cottage in the back yard to separate from my wife, Cori and daughter, Genna.

“I gave myself the diagnosis on Saturday, and I was sure I had it on Sunday. I had a test on Tuesday, got the results on Wednesday.

“I had some GI upset, night-time coughing, shortness of breath and low-grade fever. Right now, the main thing I’m dealing with is loss of taste. And boredom from being stuck inside.”

Yonge the doctor says he had a few bad days being Yonge the patient, but he thinks the worst is over – at least for Yonge the patient.

But what about Yonge the small business owner?

The Small Business Owner

“As a doctor, we’re trying to do the right thing to make sure there is continuity in medical care. We encouraged our patients to stay home, stay home, wash your hands, wash your hands – we were coaching them every time we talked to them. And here we all get it.

“All of our doctors and office managers are over 65, so we’re still worried about each other a little bit, but I think we’re doing ok.

“I’m doing Telemedicine, so we’re still working, but not like we wanna be and not like we can.

“My two partners both work in nursing homes and they can’t physically go in right now. So they’re also doing Telemedicine with their patients.

“The amount of work we were doing after the stay-at-home order was about 50% of what we would normally do. From a financial standpoint, we were already worried and anxious,” Yonge said.

Before his office was hit with coronavirus, Yonge applied for a Small Business Administration loan so he could keep his staff on the payroll. They haven’t received it yet, but now the SBA loan seems even more crucial.

“We were trying to protect our employees but also protect our business. We still have our employees on the payroll. We want them to all get well and get back to the business of taking care of people as best we can.”

Going forward

“I’m not worried about myself. I’m worried about other people. I saw a photo of all those people on a Jacksonville beach the other day. I just know how easily I caught the virus in an environment where we were doing everything right. If you wear a mask, good. If you’re not wearing a mask, wear a mask.

“I just have no idea how I got it unless it came through an air vent. If you’re out walking around, there is some data out there – if somebody runs by you there’s a trail of bioparticles that could be in the air. We don’t know enough to call this thing off yet.

“It’s still overwhelming. There have been places that have slacked off a bit then there’s another spike.

Gov. Kay Ivey expected to make an announcement on phased reopening the state early next week

“This is a time we need to be thinking about lots of things. The one thing we need to do is take care of each other and be safe.

“We need to let the doctors and scientists guide this. I’m not convinced we have the information to call this off. It’s tragic for many people, but we can easily outpace our ability to take care of folks.

“We had nine people in our office – an office where we were taking all the precautions – and seven tested positive. That’s just one office. It shows how rapidly it can spread.”

The Corona Pop Up Show

“The Eastern Shore Art Center, unfortunately, had to be closed. But then I was looking at the Art Center’s really nice open area out front and was thinking that might be a good place for a coronavirus pop up exhibit.”

Coronavirus art breaks out in Alabama ‘artist colony’

Maybe it’s time to get the band back together? I understand Bruce Larsen, Pinky Bass and other suspicious Gulf artist types may be on board.

“These images kept popping into my head, so it occurred to me to ask other artists to participate.

“I was talking to Fairhope writer Roy Hoffman, and he mentioned one of the poems he wrote about it. I thought it was amazing. So we’re going to incorporate Roy’s poems into the show so people can see those too.”

Could it be that Lynn Yonge the Artist was exorcising his coronavirus demons through his risky found-object art even as Lynn Yonge the Doctor/Patient was demonized by the virus?

“Working on these demon images was a nice distraction,” Yonge said. “It got me moving, exercising my lungs and thinking about something else. I’m gonna start putting things out there. It’ll be whatever shows up shows up.”

We’ve been warned.

Check out more cartoons and stuff by JD Crowe

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Art Gallery of Alberta offers pre-booked visits as it reopens during COVID-19 pandemic –



Another Alberta attraction is opening its doors with extra precautions to protect guests from the spread of COVID-19.

Coronavirus: Royal Alberta Museum to reopen Saturday — with some changes

The Art Gallery of Alberta announced it would start welcoming members back on June 4 and all visitors the following week.

The gallery will be open Thursday to Saturday by “pre-booked tickets.” The hours of 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. will be exclusively for vulnerable and at-risk people and all visitors will be welcome 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.

June 4 to 6 will be open only to AGA members for a preview and the wider opening will happen June 11.

Art Gallery of Alberta announces free admission for kids and students

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Several increased health and safety measures have been put in place, including:

  • Reduced capacity in all spaces to ensure physical distancing
  • Guiding physical distancing with decals on the floor, directional markers and signage
  • Staff in public spaces will be wearing masks and/or face shields
  • Plexiglass barriers will be installed at key guest service areas
  • Handwashing or hand sanitizer stations will be put on every floor and at the main entrance
  • Increased cleaning and disinfecting throughout the AGA
  • Closing high-touch and interactive areas
  • Removing all furniture
  • Not providing wheelchairs at this time
  • Zinc Restaurant remains closed at this time
  • Art rental and sales are available by appointment only and with curb-side pickup

“Safety is our top priority and we are closely monitoring the situation each day and if warranted, may decide to take additional measures or close to the public,” the AGA said in a statement on its website.

[ Sign up for our Health IQ newsletter for the latest coronavirus updates ]

Guests are asked to book their visit online in advance. Priority will be given to pre-booked visits with a small number of walk-ups allowed each hour.

Art Gallery of Alberta makes admission free for kids and students

Art Gallery of Alberta makes admission free for kids and students

Anyone with any COVID-19 symptoms — even minor — like fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, chills, shortness of breath/difficulty breathing, aches, feeling unwell — must not visit.

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Anyone who has been in contact with someone who had COVID-19 or had COVID-19 symptoms must not visit.

Anyone who has travelled outside Canada in the last 14 days or has been in contact with someone who has must not visit.

When visiting, guests are asked to wear a mask if they have one, stay two metres apart from other visitors, be patient while waiting their turn to see art and exhibits.

Guests are also asked to follow proper handwashing or hand sanitizing recommendations, avoid touching surfaces and following the direction indicators.

Coronavirus: Alberta phased relaunch strategy will see some restrictions eased Friday

The AGA has also said it will be offering Pay what you May admission for the month of June to all essential service workers and those in the arts and culture sector.

People who aren’t ready to visit in person can access #yourAGAfromhome online programming, with #AGAlive webinar events and hands-on art activities.

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Christo's place in art history is not without controversy – here's why – The Conversation UK



The history of art is written as if men of genius lead the rest of the world – us, the public – from an imagined position at the front of culture. Whenever another great man dies, his biography is fitted into the story of successive “great lives” and so the point is illustrated, furnished with examples of genius at the helm of progress. This is true of Christo.

Christo, who died aged 84 on May 31, is usually pictured as the quintessential genius. Most often he is pictured alone – the man with his monumental achievements. This has been the case throughout his career – as true of his most recent works as it was in the 1960s and 1970s: the solo man wrapping up nature and architecture (he also wrapped women in his earliest works).

But most of Christo’s oeuvre was created working with his wife, the artist Jeanne-Claude, who died in 2009, as well as teams of experts. In all the reporting of the highly ambitious, eye-catching and popular interventions into urban and rural landscapes, his artist-wife collaborator is subsumed under his name. It exemplifies the cliché: “Behind every great man there stands a woman.”

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Christo and his wife produced a range of artistic experiments including piles of oil drums and miles of umbrellas in sculptural interventions. But their most famous artworks are impossibly large wrappers of urban monuments and rural environments. They wrapped a piece of Australian coast near Sydney in 1968-69, some islands in Miami in 1980-83, the Pont Neuf in Paris in 1985 and the Reichstag in Berlin in 1995, among other things.

Until plastic became justifiably unfashionable for environmental reasons, these artistic interventions were generally understood as aesthetically pleasing, a benign way of drawing attention to the adjacent and enveloped forms, namely the shoreline, the trees, the ancient bridge. The machismo of such large-scale work was fairly unexceptional in the context of “land art” staples at the time, such as Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty (1970).

Christo’s credentials as environmentalist lay in the fact that the work was temporary, and he and Jeanne-Claude went to lengths on their website to explain how the art is “clean”. In the 20th century, their work was interpreted as environmentally sound and ecologically engaged, but in the 21st century the continued use of vast quantities of mined and man-made resources was met with criticism.

Context is everything

I note this to exemplify just one of the changes in the art’s reception over time. Over Christo’s long career, there have been other changes in how the work has been received and framed. Artists always work in contexts – and contexts change over time. Context informs how an artwork is understood. Once, Christo and other land artists were appreciated for their embodied anti-consumerism, anti-capitalist art practices – land art must be funded but it cannot be sold.

Today, this once integral part of its raison d’etre and context is eclipsed by a contemporary art world that embraces the market and the neoliberal idea that the market provides all that society and individuals need. Christo’s anti-consumerism therefore is no longer part of his narrative. Changes in the accepted narrative are always worth pointing out.

A visitor looks at a drawing of US-artist Christo and his partner Jeanne-Claude, illustrating the work ‘The umbrellas’.
EPA/Markus Stuecklin

“The past is a foreign country” is a cliché, but the idea that “they do things differently there” is often overlooked by art historians bent on furnishing a history with genius. For historians – and consequently for most members of the public – a great artwork is great because it is the embodiment of genius. This appears to be common sense, but it is worth noting that the idea of genius was defined at the birth of art history in the 18th century in reference to classical antiquity. Genius was the product of a particular location: Europe, and – notably – a particular gender: male.

Subsequently this narrow definition of genius was projected across the world and the rest of humanity was found lacking. The relationship between genius and progress is intertwined. Without genius we have no progress.

Art in a changing world

Achievements in art and science are driven by a notion of progress. Culture progresses, according to the narrative, from the primitive and unformed, the uninformed, towards enlightenment which, as this idea of progress is an Enlightenment one, is rather neat. Prior to the Modern period, there was a different understanding of progress. Progress was seen as being towards heaven and the value of human intellectual and artistic endeavour was to the glory of God.

The purpose of culture and art, its role and value in society, has changed over time. Cultures, attitudes – and even the very definition of words such as “art” – change. Yet, somehow today and since the invention of art history and the concept of aesthetics, our reception of an artwork is supposed not to change. We assume a great artwork is a great artwork forever and in all contexts, that it is universal and transcendent of time and space.

The floating piers at Peschiera Maraglio in Italy, June 2016.
michelangeloop via Shutterstock

Christo’s death serves as an example of how a history of progress is written. The genius of the artist exemplifies a given notion of progress. Progress is built on bigger, better, more expensive sole-authored achievements, a notion of genius that suppresses the collaborative and the complex.

In death, the artist is polished and their achievement is made glossy by smoothing out changes over time in the reception of the art and in the reasons for making art in the first place.

An impression is formed by the traditional art historian that, always and universally, the artist’s contribution to cultural progress is fixed and unmistakable, a stable step forwards. In reality, it wasn’t like that. It never is.

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Incoming Nanaimo Art Gallery executive director excited for new role – Nanaimo News Bulletin



The Nanaimo Art Gallery’s new executive director says she’s looking forward to the challenge and opportunity to come to a new place, get to know people and make an impact.

On May 29 the Nanaimo Art Gallery announced that this summer Carolyn Holmes, who spent the past four and a half years as executive director of the Two Rivers Gallery in Prince George, will be taking the helm of the NAG.

Holmes said she’s been following the NAG for years and that it has a reputation for being innovative and community-minded.

“I know that there’s a great exhibition program there and also there’s lots of ties to the local community and to the indigenous community as well, which is all important to me,” she said. “I think not every art gallery should be the same. Each art gallery needs to respond to their community and work with the community and grow with the community.”

Holmes was born in England but raised in Whitby, Ont. As a youth she made art “all the time,” leading her to pursue a degree in fine arts at Queen’s University and a masters in museum studies at the University of Toronto.

“I always knew I was going to do something with art,” she said.

When she moved to P.G. 20 years ago to serve as the gallery’s inaugural education programmer the building was still under construction. Holmes said she got to develop the gallery’s programming from scratch and build a team around her vision. She said it’s “bittersweet” to be leaving the TRG after two decades, but “it’ll be nice to have some new ideas come into the organization.”

“A lot has happened in that time, along with me having two children and growing a family, so it’s been a big part of my life, the gallery, and Prince George as well, so it will be hard to leave,” she said.

Before becoming executive director, Holmes served as the director of public programs. She said one of her proudest accomplishments is establishing the gallery’s MakerLab, an education and workshop space meant to “connect the community with creativity and not just art.”

“Sometimes people think, ‘I’m never going to be a painter or a drawer,’ or, ‘These exhibitions aren’t for me,’ and so it was a way to have everybody embrace what they might be doing creatively…” she said. “We were trying to teach skills and share ideas and also get people who were making things in their houses, kitchen tables, in their wood shops and bringing them together to share ideas and building a community.”

Holmes said moving to Nanaimo will bring her closer to her parents who live in Qualicum Beach. And while she said her familiarity with the Harbour City is limited to that of a summer tourist, Holmes is excited for her and her husband and teenage sons to “find our place” in Nanaimo.

Holmes expects the first few months of her directorship will be spent familiarizing herself with the gallery and getting a sense of what the NAG staff and board are working on, their priorities and their plans for the future.

“I know eventually the board would like to grow the gallery and that’s exciting, I think, for everyone, but I think there’s a lot of listening and learning that needs to take place,” she said. “For me, engaging with the community is my priority. I want people to recognize that Nanaimo Art Gallery is their art gallery and feel a connection to that.”

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