The COVID-19 virus is wreaking havoc on schools, stores, businesses — and events. As concerts, talks and big gatherings get cancelled and people spend more time at home, LAist is temporarily switching our events column to a “nonevents” column to help us through this time of social distancing.
Until it’s safe to go out again, please consider contributing to your local arts organizations, or to individual artists during this difficult time.
While arts and cultural institutions around the world have shut down to help stop the spread of COVID-19, many are highlighting their works and programs online. We looked at ways Southern California museums are allowing us to get our art fix while we #museumfromhome.
Autry Museum of the American West
The Autry’s extensive collections, which include more than 600,000 objects and cultural materials, are available online. In the coming weeks, the museum’s blog and social media accounts will be bringing an inside perspective and spotlight works.
Before the outbreak, the Santa Ana-based museum has just opened a blockbuster exhibition, Inside the Walt Disney Archives: 50 Years of Preserving the Magic, with a number of related events. While in-person visits are on hold, people are still able to take a look at the digital guide to the exhibition. Use a mobile device (phones not computers) to access the material.
While the downtown L.A. museum is developing new content for its site (where guests can already explore the collection), The Broad is encouraging visits to its YouTube page for artist interviews and gallery talks. Watch singer Adele discuss how Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirrored Room inspired a live performance or check out The Un-Private Collection a series of conversations with people such as Christopher Wool, Kim Gordon and John Corbett.
California African American Museum
CAAM’s YouTube channel includes a collection of all its full-length and social media videos, from artist interviews (Alison Saar, Candace Reels, Cross Colours) to exhibition tours.
California Science Center
The museum has a Stuck at Home Science section that features activities families do with common household supplies. The projects were meant to stave off boredom and promote science education — even before the COVID-19 outbreak. Learn about light and darkness, ice, plant roots and magic spoons. The activity sheets are free to download in English and Spanish.
Follow the Craft Contemporary museum on Instagram for at-home craft projects along with step-by-step videos in the “Craft At Home” story highlight. The latest project, Flower Pounding, helps release that pent-up quarantine energy.
FIDM/Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising
Like many other museums, FIDM can be found on Google Arts and Culture online, showcasing former exhibitions including The Art of Television Design (2016). The museum also has its entire Unboxing series available in its Instagram highlights, as well as its online collections and blog.
The Getty’s blog, The Iris, has posted the guide, “How to Explore Art While the Getty Galleries Are Closed,” which includes a “starter kit” of the Getty’s online art, books and videos. Three of the museum’s most popular current exhibitions are online: Michelangelo: Mind of the Master, Assyria: Palace Art of Ancient Iraq and Käthe Kollwitz: Prints, Process, Politics. Visitors can also browse the institution’s art and research collections, listen to art podcasts, watch artist talks and read art books.
The museum debuts never-before-released digital recordings of its public programs, releasing a new episode on its website every Monday, Wednesday and Saturday. Last week, the museum featured discussions and music sets with Scarypoolparty and Yola. Forthcoming conversations and music include Billie Eilish and FINNEAS, Bob Newhart, Brandi Carlile, Greta Van Fleet, Kool & The Gang, Larkin Poe and X Ambassadors. On Sundays and Tuesdays, the museum will also release educational content and lesson plans on its website, covering topics like electronic music production to music of the Civil Rights Movement.
The Westwood museum has digital archives of exhibitions and collections with more than 1,100 works by more than 100 artists who taught or studied at UCLA. The online collection includes an expanded archive from Corita Kent as well as Now Dig This! Art and Black Los Angeles, 1960-1980. The Hammer also has full videos of past programs including artist Paul McCarthy talking about his work, readings by Jamaica Kincaid and Political Advertising in the U.S. On Thursdays at 12:30 p.m., guests can join in the weekly Mindful Awareness Meditation via Zoom.
The museum has a pretty cool virtual tour available in its “visit” section. We checked out Maryam Jafri’s exhibition room from last year’s I Drank the Kool-Aid, but Didn’t Inhale as well as Lucas Blalock’s An Enormous Oar.
The mid-Wilshire museum has extensive online collections and publications as well as great videos on its YouTube channel, including one featuring the late John Baldessari, narrated by Tom Waits. For families with kids at home, LACMA also offers free education resources for all ages. Their robust social media channels feature collection highlights and great memes.
Lancaster Museum of Art and History
MOAH offers Young Artist Workshop tutorials, a virtual tour of its latest exhibition, The Light of Space, and MOAH publications. Follow the museum on Facebook for more art and behind-the-scenes information.
LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes
Downtown L.A.’s LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes hosted an online walkthrough of its newest exhibition, Carlos Almaraz: Evolution of Form, during what would have been its opening reception. The exhibition features early and little-seen drawings, sketches and paintings by the pioneering Chicano artist. The presentation, led by his widow Elsa Flores Almaraz and curator Susana Smith Bautista, is available on LA Plaza’s Facebook.
Laguna Art Museum
The museum’s LAM+LAB online series offers art exploration and activities for all ages, inspired by its collection. Download and create the “Magu Map,” a collaborative sculpture inspired by Gilbert Magu Lujan’s Cruising Turtle Island or create Fairytale Zines, inspired by Titi, Nunu, & Klembolo: Helena Modjeska’s Fairy Tale Book. Once finished, artists are asked to post to Instagram and tag LAM.
The museum launches #VirtualMOCA today (Monday, March 23) with weekly digital programming, bringing ideas on collaborative education, community support and movie nights. In addition, visitors can already view exhibition images and reading materials on its website, as well as all its public programs, artist interviews and special studio visits available on MOCA TV on YouTube.
While the Long Beach museum is dark, they’re highlighting works by female artists in its permanent collection for Women’s History Month on Instagram. The museum is also asking people to share creative projects and ideas through the hashtag #MOLAAConnects.
The Muckenthaler Cultural Center
We’re not sure how this squares with the “stay at home” order, so check with The Muck before you go: Every Tuesday Morning (starting this week), the Fullerton museum will have a drive-through Art Kit Kiosk in the parking lot from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. Parents can pick up a new, free art project each week (designed by Muck Master Artists Marsha Judd and Willie Tabata) without leaving the car.
Natural History Museum, La Brea Tar Pits Museum and the William S. Hart Museum
Norton Simon Museum
The Norton Simon offers step-by-step art projects for children inspired by the museum’s collection. Create a telescope viewfinder, wire portraits and pattern play. The school curriculum packets developed for teachers can be used for homeschooling, too. For those interested in art history, the museum offers videos and lectures including “Ellsworth Kelly: From New York to Paris and Back Again, Thrice” and “Titian’s “Lady in White”: A Mistress of the Artist’s Soul.”
Skirball Cultural Center
Follow the Skirball’s Instagram and Facebook, where over the next few weeks, the center will share collection spotlights, behind-the-scenes looks with curators, art projects, performances by Noah’s Ark gallery educators, shared playlists and recommended readings.
While the Culver City museum is temporarily closed, online resources for visitors include videos and walk-throughs of its current exhibition, The Medea Insurrection: Radical Women Artists Behind the Iron Curtain. The site also spotlights a collection of Zsolnay ceramics and access to catalogs from past exhibitions. Follow the museum on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter for other art highlights.
Life mimics art for actors in play about pandemic – Victoria News
As a pair of Victoria-based performers sit on the couch of a rented suite in isolation this week, they can’t help but think of all the similarities they’re seeing in the current COVID-19 pandemic.
Danny Saretsky, 22, and Regina Rios, 23, moved here to study the theatre program at the Canadian College of Performing Arts in Oak Bay. In November, they performed lead roles in the stage production of Unity 1918, a play by Kevin Kerr in which the Spanish flu disrupts the small community of Unity, Sask.
“There’s a lot of similarities,” said Saretsky, who played Stan, a new father who is recovering after his wife died in childbirth. “It’s disturbingly parallel.”
|Performers Danny Saretsky and Regina Rios during a Zoom chat this week. The two starred in Unity 1918, a movie set in the 1918 flu pandemic, and are now finding it a bit uncanny that they are under self-isolation just a few months later. (Travis Paterson/News Staff)|
In particular, it’s society’s reaction to the virus that stands out. The nation was still grieving the 56,638 Canadian military members who died in the First World War. To this day the number of people killed by the Spanish influenza ranges in estimate from 20 to 100 million people worldwide, about 55,000 people in Canada and 650,000 in the U.S.
“[It’s kind of the same as] how people were [recently] exaggerating, ‘Oh, it’s not that bad,’ while others stocked up on toilet paper,” said Rios, who played Sunna, a young Icelandic woman who becomes the town mortician.
Amid the chaos of death, in which there aren’t enough coffins for the dead, Sunna and Stan find romance.
In Unity, as it was back then, things were typically slower. But with the flu, things changed quickly day-to-day.
The schools are closed. Physical contact is forbidden and there is a town curfew.
“Basically, all fun things were canceled then too,” Saretsky said. “The town people were quarreling with one another, not because of illness, but because of fear of illness.”
The actors even played out the same responses we’re seeing now, especially mistrust of people who travelled internationally.
“Even though people sought a human connection, travellers were met with a ‘please get away from me,’ vibe,” Saretsky said.
“They didn’t really understand the flu,” Rios said. “The flu hit Regina [Sask.], so they knew it was coming in, but they didn’t know how it spread, they thought being downwind would spread it. It was being spread with the soldiers coming home from the war.”
There were mass graves and misinformation.
When CCPA last staged Unity 1918 on Dec. 1 there was no sign of a global pandemic unfolding.
The two graduated in February and went their separate ways. Rios joined local troupe Story Theatre and was touring preschools with the show The Very First Circus.
“Of course, going school to school was not ideal, so that was canceled [early],” Rios said.
Saretsky was in the middle of a vacation tour with his father to the United States and Europe.
“We were in Boston when we made the decision to follow recommendations and come home,” Saretsky said.
If it goes ahead as planned, Saretsky is headed to Vancouver this summer to intern at the annual Bard & the Beach Shakespeare Festival in Vancouver.
Now the two are stuck, together at least, in an Airbnb suite, until things change.
“We did jazzercise today, a ‘90s jazzercise funk workout on YouTube,” Saretsky said.
“Support artists if you can, it’s a tough time for all of us,” Rios said.
Home as art: Interior designer's Laval house her proudest creation – Montreal Gazette
“While Bruno looked after the budget, I took care of the plans for the layout and interior design of the rooms, including the plumbing, electricity, LED lighting configuration, kitchen cabinets, laying of the ceramic, etc. Having full-time jobs, we couldn’t be on-site every day,” recounts Castro.
But Bernatchez’s father has extensive experience in the construction industry and was present to supervise the tradesmen and manage the delivery of materials. Even so, Castro visited the site whenever she had to revise plans with the plumber, electrician, ceramic installer, etc.
The final product is true to Castro and Bernatchez’s vision of an elegant contemporary home inside and out. The juxtaposition of the grey cut stones and brown stained wood combined with black garage doors and trim on the façade makes for an imposing-looking residence with a graphic architectural design style.
Why we need the arts, now more than ever – The Globe and Mail
This week in Canada the theatres are dark, the concert halls are silent and the art galleries are empty. As all arts and entertainment venues close their doors to help prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus, the losses are beginning to mount.
The Cirque du Soleil has laid off almost 5,000 performers and crew, and staffers in the Montreal head office. The Banff Centre for the Arts and Creativity has given notice to 400 workers while the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra has sent the band home – all 67 musicians, as well as 30 administrative staffers.
The Junos were cancelled earlier this month; this weekend, there won’t be any Canadian Screen Awards. The Vancouver International Children’s Festival has been cancelled while Bard on the Beach hangs in the balance. In Toronto, Luminato, the June arts festival established to help the city recover from the SARS outbreak of 2003, will not be held in 2020, and there will be no Shakespeare in High Park. The Toronto Alliance for the Performing Arts predicts that sector will lose $500-million in ticket revenue in the next three months.
TV and movie sets have been abandoned as activity in Canada’s $9-billion production industry grinds to a halt: The new Canadian medical drama Nurses stopped shooting its second season in Mississauga, Ont., two weeks ago and donated 600 masks, 400 surgical gowns and pairs of gloves to local hospitals.
Meanwhile, at The Rooms in St. John’s, departing staff have been warned to remove any stray sugar packets from their desks. The keepers of Newfoundland’s provincial collections are worried that mice, moths and silverfish will have a field day in the shuttered building.
From the microscopic to the macro-economic, the pandemic is chewing its way through the arts. Yet, trapped inside our houses, it is to the arts that we turn: to novels, to recorded music, to movies and TV shows. It is how we find escape but also how we seek meaning. Contagion, an apocalyptic drama about a global pandemic, was one of the most-watched Netflix movies in Canada this week.
And, while artists are losing gigs, they are hardly inactive. There’s a daily buzz of virtual concerts, classes, conversations and art displays using everything from the good old telephone to sophisticated software that can patch together remote performances by individual voices or instruments. Dancers from the National Ballet of Canada are now live-streaming classes from their living rooms. The Toronto Symphony performed Aaron Copland’s Appalachian Spring remotely and posted it online last week. The Playwrights Guild of Canada conducted a 28-script, seven-hour play-reading relay Friday.
The large losses and the ironic gains of the pandemic are offering sharp lessons about why we need the arts.
In Canada, the arts are both a big business and a precarious living. When Statistics Canada last counted (in 2017), culture accounted for almost 3 per cent of the GDP, generating $100-billion in economic activity every year and directly employing almost 700,000 people in the performing, fine arts and heritage sectors, the publishing, screen and music industries, and the media.
Some of these jobs are salaried positions with well-established institutions; others provide regular work for the many skilled trades employed by the booming film-and-television production industry. But many are low-paid contracts or occasional fees for visual artists, writers, actors, dancers and musicians who cobble together a living working directly and indirectly in the arts.
“We all know the hustle so well, living from month to month, even musicians who you know, who you have heard of,” said singer, fiddler and music activist Miranda Mulholland, who has just cancelled a Toronto album launch, some U.S. radio appearances and a U.K. tour. “Once the digital revolution hit [the sales of recorded music], everybody was told to tour. This has exposed the danger of that.”
In the business that brought you the term “gig,” even highly successful performers are left painfully exposed, working on contracts that include “force majeure” clauses allowing presenters to cancel without penalty in circumstances such as these. Spring and summer are busy seasons in the music and theatre businesses: Many freelance artists are predicting they will lose half their annual income. Meanwhile, layoffs from service jobs at cultural institutions can also hit artists hard: Many of the more than 50 technicians, box-office attendants, bartenders and front-of-house staff who lost their jobs at The Cultch theatre centre in Vancouver last week are also freelance artists who use that work to pay the rent.
“It’s the hardest thing I have ever had to do,” said Cultch executive director Heather Redfern as she laid off the casual workers immediately and gave three weeks’ notice to 21 permanent staffers. Normally, Redfern would be about to announce her 2020-21 season, a busy 300-performance year that would invite 18 different independent theatre companies into the building. “I can’t even imagine how we could not do a season next year because everybody is going to need work. Artists need to work.”
Nowhere is the link between jobs and the arts more apparent than at the Stratford Festival, an institution founded 67 years ago as an economic development plan for the small Southern Ontario city and which, by a 2017 Conference Board of Canada estimate, generates more than $135-million every year in economic activity. The festival, where the season was set to begin preview performances April 11, just laid off almost 500 workers and delayed opening to June.
“Everyone is in the same boat; we are just waiting to see what will happen,” said Elaine Gadbois of the Stratford and Area Bed & Breakfast Association, where the phone has not rung in two weeks.
And yet amid the dollar figures and the layoff counts, it is possible to lose sight of the truth that the arts are not simply a massive job-creation scheme. If you focus too narrowly on the looming economic hardship for artists – as well as for the numerous creative, administrative and technical staff who support their work, not to mention workers in the allied tourism sector – you may forget that Stratford has a larger mission than keeping restaurants and hotels open. Or you may miss the difference between the jobs created by the many U.S. TV shows and films that shoot in Canada and those local productions that, according to the old industry saw, are “telling Canadian stories to Canadians.”
The arts have often used their economic impact to justify their existence – and their widely varying levels of subsidy – to governments, but behind that argument lie real social needs. The arts provide the reassurance of narrative, the peace of contemplation and, most of all, the power of community, experiences that can be hard to define but which the current crisis is laying bare.
“What is fulfilling about the arts is not necessarily the art itself but the way it connects us all,” Vancouver singer/songwriter Dan Mangan said. “Those moments when you feel that connection with thousands of people in a room lift the great weight of existential loneliness.”
That may sound impossibly lofty, but Mangan has fresh evidence. This month he ran an unplanned experiment in the virtual’s ability to replace the actual when he recorded his “show to nobody” at Toronto’s Danforth Music Hall, where his kit was assembled but his gig was cancelled. The performance in the empty hall felt like a letdown after the triumphant live show of the night before – until he broadcasted it online and 11,000 people tuned in simultaneously .
Whether it’s at the concert hall or the movie theatre, the thing we are missing most of all these days is the crowd. The cinema business, which was already suffering badly in the era of streaming, has been so busy advertising the big screen, the booming sound or the 3-D image, that audiences may have got the impression that watching a movie outside the home is simply a question of superior technology. It is, more importantly, an occasion: an appointment to receive the film as a member of a community.
The Greeks, who invented theatre 2,500 years ago, developed the notion of catharsis, the audience’s purging of sorrows and anxieties through the spectacle of great tragedy. Perhaps the best contemporary parallel would be watching Contagion … at the multiplex. Society needs to be physically present to understand the story and feel the relief.
It also needs to be physically present to appreciate visual art.
“You cannot have sex without the other person; art needs the body,” said Montreal art dealer René Blouin, who closed a sale this week. The buyer purchased a painting by Saskatchewan native Matthew Feyld, an artist now living in Montreal who builds up layer after layer of paint in abstract compositions that, Bloiun explains, simply can’t be understood or appreciated in a reproduction.
Like the scatological comic or the melodramatic actor, the avant-garde artist is probing the limits of what is intellectually possible or socially acceptable. We contract out risk to the arts: They say we watch the tight-rope walker to see if he will fall.
“In the arts we have the freedom to ask complicated questions,” Blouin said “I am sure something exceptional will come out of this: It’s a dramatic moment. … Happily, there is art.”
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