Generally as an artist, I have looked for needs to fill with my “select set of skills.” During Covid, those opportunities really dwindled and artists weren’t the only ones displaced and impacted by the global pandemic. I really struggled with even public spaces closing down and what that might mean for murals.
I got a small Covid relief grant and was featured in a Covid Response exhibition by the City of San Jose to display artwork in the Mineta International Airport, titled Holding the Moment. My artwork was later featured by the SJPD and in other public venues. It and this series of aerial works has been a great success. Originals have sold, while mugs and notecards are available on the Shop.
Then, I very fortunately got a huge contract on new construction for a series of murals that stabilized my Covid duration. Shortly after, Black Lives Matter made me check my privilege and consider what responsibilities I had to others in the course of my very privileged life. I understood that I needed to listen better. I also realized that my voice wasn’t one that could be heard but my actions could be.
Creatively, Santana Row had me design coloring book pages that could be submitted online, continuing to engage children in a coloring contest!
Willow Glen Businesses asked me to come up with overwhelmingly joyous artwork to handle the vandalism incurred during protests and generally empty streets. In the first two, we thanked people for their support and reminded people to keep their heads up. The hands have been turned into a mask. These pieces were awesome on instagram and to be recycled by the Willow Glen Business Association for other vacant stores and event programming.
Initially a temporary installation, Ganado Feed, also on Lincoln Avenue in Willow Glen, asked for a similarly uplifting message for their customers who were impacted by wildfires. We continue to remind people to stay strong and its success is seen in its continued display. An outdoor puppy event is in the works.
The ladies from Kindred Crossfit Gym required more space to accommodate Covid restrictions. During Stop Asian Hate, I was able to hook up an overnight project that supported these very local Evergreen women business owners. The artwork is inspired by Samoan body art, which the owner later replicated in real life on her totally ripped shoulder.
I’ve also been working with a business who had been looking forward to opening pre-Covid and their wait is nearly over. Al fresco dining may be here to stay, but the attraction indoor installs will be unavoidable with the bar inside. The three elements inside Wheelhouse, an upscale taproom on Lincoln Ave, were all designed with meaning and social media in mind.
Though we all continue to struggle through this together, art has been a strategy for businesses, especially small businesses, to deal with the “new normal” and the “current struggle”. I feel really honored to help people through this. I tried to draw to release the angst I felt with so many in pain. Dispensing hugs wasn’t safe. This was a small thing I could do to lighten the load. Murals are socially distanced and socially compatible with your social media.
Delta might bring more uncertainty, but certainly please do hire a local artist as a beautiful approach to change and fear.