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How the Art World Is Helping the Medical Supply Shortage – Vulture

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Photo: Courtesy of The Whitney Museum of American Art

Last Thursday, Shabd Simon-Alexander saw a message on an art-world LISTSERV she subscribes to. An artist wrote in saying that she had many of the supplies, like respirator masks and gloves, that doctors and nurses seemed to be running out of. She wanted to donate them, but there didn’t seem to be a way to do that.

Simon-Alexander had been watching stories about dwindling medical supplies and the ad hoc attempts to address them, too. As mask shortages became more dire, medical workers tweeted photos of desperate DIY stopgaps, and fashion designers, among them Christian Siriano and Elizabeth Suzann, offered to step in and sew masks to fill the gap. But cloth masks aren’t a substitute for medical-grade masks — they’re a last-ditch solution. Simon-Alexander realized that there must be tons of artists, set builders, and museum staff who used medical-grade respirator masks to keep from inhaling fumes or dust while working. Getting those supplies to frontline workers was a problem that Simon-Alexander, an artist and clothing designer turned voting-rights activist, was confident she could solve.

Members of the LISTSERV descended into brainstorming mode, with emails flying back and forth by the dozens. “One guy said, ‘Before we get too far, we should figure out whether this is actually something that’s needed and useful,’” Simon-Alexander says. Earlier in the week, she had used a Buy Nothing group on Facebook to give her MetroCard to a woman who worked in a hospital, and now Simon-Alexander got back in touch. The woman posted the question to another LISTSERV, this one populated by medical staff: What do you need, and what would be the parameters for receiving donations?

The feedback started rolling in. Some hospitals were sticking to strict rules about what donated gear they could accept. But others were more desperate. “I am not trying to find hospital-approved gear,” one frontline worker wrote. “We are beyond that. I’m trying to find survival gear that keeps us working and not sick.”

Photo: Courtesy of The Whitney Museum of American Art

Within a few hours, Simon-Alexander had designed a Google form where donors can list detailed inventories and contact information. Frontline workers can then review that list and contact donors. From there, the donor and recipient figure out how to transfer supplies, either by mail or by arranging a (socially distanced) drop-off. Someone’s husband tossed out a name for the effort: the Mask Crusaders.

The Google form went live the next morning. In the first 24 hours, more than 600 masks, most of them N95s, were transferred to health-care workers in New York. Independent artists and staffers at larger museums started listing N95s, surgical masks, gloves, Tyvek protective suits, and shoe covers by the dozens. Someone who works at the Whitney saw the idea develop on the artists’ LISTSERV and packed up a box of supplies from the museum. The Museum of Arts and Design sent Simon-Alexander an inventory list of its supplies, and she connected them to a recipient at a hospital in the city. As word of the Mask Crusaders spread on social media, Simon-Alexander was contacted by dentists and tattoo artists who were sharing the request with their networks. She’s helped organizers in Chicago, Philadelphia, D.C, and L.A. build the system in their cities, and is looking to expand even further.

Photo: Courtesy of The Whitney Museum of American Art

The entire operation is fly-by-night, especially on the recipients’ side. The health-care workers who are picking up supplies from the list are doing so independently, to try to plug gaps that their hospitals are struggling to fill. “I can only imagine the hospital would not be okay with this,” one worker on a labor-and-delivery floor in the city told me. “Regulations and liability would come into play.” Still, one of her co-workers had requested supplies from the Mask Crusaders, and was waiting on a drop-off. At her hospital, personal protective equipment has been under lock and key for a week, and workers are scared. “It’s not that we mistrust the hospital,” she told me, “but we know there’s a massive national deficit, and we’re trying to keep pregnant women and ourselves from getting sick.”

“I’m so proud to see people taking care of each other, and it’s very beautiful and hopeful,” Simon-Alexander told me. “I don’t want to downplay that. But at the same time I find it really frustrating that the work of fixing this crisis is left to the people most affected by it.” She points out that the Mask Crusaders’ supplies will run out at some point, too. “We can’t mutual-aid our way out of this entirely. At some point, the government is going to have to step up.”

*This article appears in the March 30, 2020, issue of New York Magazine. Subscribe Now!

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David Driskell, prominent authority on black art, dies at 88 – Times Colonist

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FALMOUTH, Maine — David Driskell, one of the nation’s most influential African American artists and a leading authority on black art, has died. He was 88.

Driskell was a multimedia artist who used the trees around his Falmouth, Maine, cabin home as a feature in his work. A spokeswoman for the David C. Driskell Center at the University of Maryland said he died on Wednesday. The cause of his death, in a hospital near his home in Hyattsville, Maryland, was not disclosed.

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Driskell went to Maine in the 1950s to study at Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. He was part of a wave of artists who came to the state from New York, the Portland Press Herald reported. He would go on to become the author of several books and more than 40 catalogues, and curated “Two Centuries of Black American Art: 1750-1950” at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in the 1970s. The show was pivotal in paving the way for the study of African American art history.

Driskell once said of Maine: “I dream about it when I’m not there.”

The spokeswoman for the Driskell Center said services are not planned at this time due to concerns about coronavirus, which has disrupted funeral services around the country.

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David Driskell, prominent authority on black art, dies at 88 – Powell River Peak

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FALMOUTH, Maine — David Driskell, one of the nation’s most influential African American artists and a leading authority on black art, has died. He was 88.

Driskell was a multimedia artist who used the trees around his Falmouth, Maine, cabin home as a feature in his work. A spokeswoman for the David C. Driskell Center at the University of Maryland said he died on Wednesday. The cause of his death, in a hospital near his home in Hyattsville, Maryland, was not disclosed.

article continues below

Driskell went to Maine in the 1950s to study at Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. He was part of a wave of artists who came to the state from New York, the Portland Press Herald reported. He would go on to become the author of several books and more than 40 catalogues, and curated “Two Centuries of Black American Art: 1750-1950” at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in the 1970s. The show was pivotal in paving the way for the study of African American art history.

Driskell once said of Maine: “I dream about it when I’m not there.”

The spokeswoman for the Driskell Center said services are not planned at this time due to concerns about coronavirus, which has disrupted funeral services around the country.

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London art galleries find new ways to reach public, promote exhibitions – The London Free Press

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Michael Gibson, owner of the Michael Gibson Gallery on Carling Street. (File photo)


Michael Gibson suspected weeks ago it would be arts and culture on which the public depend to help get them through the COVID-19 pandemic.

Reading, watching movies and television, and listening to music are all helping people occupy their time isolated at home.

And the city’s art galleries have shifted their operations to tap into that reality, going online with podcasts and videos to draw people to their exhibitions, which can be viewed only by appointment while their doors are closed to walk-in traffic during the pandemic.

“The beauty of the website is it’s 24 hours a day, seven days a week and it doesn’t care if it’s raining, snowing or a pandemic,” said Gibson, who was among the vanguard of businesses who tapped the potential of the Internet.

Activity on the gallery’s website (gibsongallery.com) is up 20 per cent over the last month, with people viewing and making inquiries.

“I’d say people clearly have a lot more time on their hands and that leads them to going online and visiting websites,” Gibson said. “As I expected, people have gone to culture to fill their time.

“There’s no sense dwelling on the negative all the time and part of being positive is exploring things that you don’t necessarily do regularly because you don’t have the time.”

Without the usual foot traffic, Gibson admitted sales are “softer.” Some customers continue to buy, but “buying is not necessarily everyone’s priority right now,” he said.

Westland Gallery in Wortley Village launched its first online exhibition, which allows the arts to be viewed and purchased, although private arrangements can be made for viewings.

The new exhibition, titled Off Road, features works by Sheila Davis and Andrew Sookrah. To connect with the public online, the gallery (westlandgallery.ca) has posted videos of interviews, talks and demonstrations by the artists.

Danielle Hoevenaars, the gallery’s associate director, said the gallery has always received “great” support from the Wortley Village community in terms of heavy foot traffic.

“We’ve always had a website and connected by social media, so we thought we’d try and improve the online experience with interviews and videos. And we’ve definitely noticed an increase of traffic on social media, so people are clearly trying to engage that way on their phones and computers,” said Hoevenaars.

“It’s an adjustment for everyone, but I’m certainly enjoying making the videos. It’s different but kind of nice to see that can still be connected.”

Jonathan Bancroft-Snell Gallery, which has grown to one of the country’s most important ceramic art galleries featuring works by more than 120 artists, is also open by appointment only by emailing brian@jonathons.ca or calling 519-859-0682 between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Monday to Friday.

Bancroft-Snell, whose husband Stephen White returned on one of the last flights from Mexico, has been in quarantine for 14 days ending Friday. He has turned to social media to keep connected with the public and friends.

Each day at 3 p.m., Bancroft-Snell has been broadcasting a podcast on his Instagram account, #ceramiclondon, where he talks about politics, life, pandemic and art. Plans to celebrate the gallery’s 20th anniversary this month are hold.

“I’m trying to build a little social distancing community,” said Bancroft-Snell. “We’re in unchartered waters right now and we have to stay afloat.”

A few clients have “made advance purchases, sending me cheques for things they might want to buy in the future knowing things are bad now.” One sale Bancroft-Snell made was to a woman also in quarantine, and another for a piece an artist hasn’t completed.

Bancroft-Snell, whose shop is downtown on Dundas Street just west of Wellington Street, also worries for the homeless people living on the street.

“And I’d like to think this (pandemic) will change how we care for each other,” he said.

”This pandemic should be a major wakeup call for us all. And a lot of artists are, all of a sudden, having major difficulties. They don’t have paycheques. They’re in a real bind.”

jbelanger@postmedia.com

Twitter.com/JoeBatLFPress

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