Thanks, 2020 – and GOODBYE!

This painting by Pam Diulio and Karen Jenkins, depicts real people. The Doctor and ICU nurse work at the U of M Hospital. The nurse who cares for with Covid Patients is Karen’s daughter; the fireman is from Monroe and the police officer is Pam’s nephew. 

Pam and Karen’s painting reminds us how artists can embed and strengthen ideas in the minds of the public. We can create images, whether direct or allusive in support of all the heroes: the visible and the invisible, the obvious choices and the unsung, and see where we can do our part in ensuring they all get their due in appreciation, respect and compensation! Of course the greatest respect we can offer is in not piling more work onto them.

Few of us will be sorry to see 2020 dwindle in the rear-view mirror, but there are some things about it we should grasp onto. There was the clean, quiet April and May, when we could wander in the street, watching kids doing wheelies on their bikes and hearing birdsong clearly. Then there was the national uprising following the killing of George Floyd – not a unique instance, except in the overdue response to it, sparking a national conversation about racism. There was the discovery that not everyone needs to commute, and there’s no excuse not to hire people whose disability makes commuting impossible of just inconvenient.

Artists and people connected with the Arts seem to be in the forefront of responding to these 2020 events, wanting to run with the moment and enter a new era. We at Huron River Art Collective held an exhibition, Racial Dialogs Through Art, viewable online. If you feel inspired to send words or pictures or a combination to keep the discussion around race, equity and climate change at the forefront, — or if you want to talk about something else — we’d love to hear from you.

In January, the prolific sculptor Barbara Melnik Carson will be our speaker at 7pm on Jan 18th Register Here for the zoom event.

New name, The Current

Don’t forget to add your email on the right of this page, if you’d like our Blog – to be renamed The Current in January – arriving in your inbox.

— Sophie Grillet, Communications Chair sophiegrillet at gmail

A story worth sharing

Joan Witte conducted a National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI) fundraiser over a single week in the summer. Donors could choose one of her paintings as a gift. All of the paintings are now spoken for, and over $3,000 was raised for the Alliance. Here is the story of Joan’s son, whose life ended with his suicide in November 2019.

The event was called Between the Comments, and was in memory of her son, Nathan Vallee.   The majority of the paintings were created during the COVID-19 quarantine. If you or anyone you know may be at risk of suicide, please make sure they have the prevention line number, 1-800 273 8255, and don’t be shy to voice your concern.

Currently, Joan’s work can be seen at the Huron River Art Collective shows at Sweetwaters in Ann Arbor, where three of her paintings have sold, as well as four at Joe and Rosie’s Cafe in Dexter, showing through February 15th.  Joan promoted these exhibitions in advance on her Facebook page, Raven Loon Studio

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To volunteer with the Collective, ask a question or send a story, message us through our Facebook page or Group, or email SophieGrillet at gmail. Ask your artist friends to January’s talk, and to join!

Our mission is to provide an inclusive and supportive environment for a diverse community of artists to share knowledge and opportunities that promote individual excellence, collaboration, inspire new creative perspectives, and offer engagement with the public to foster participation, appreciation, and support of the arts.

— Sophie Grillet, Communications Chair

sophiegrillet at gmail

Artist Steve Burdick

Interview: Making art in the time of Coronavirus

What’s it like to be an artist during the Pandemic?
Well the biggest difference so far is that I decided not to participate in any PleinAir events this Summer. It’s too bad, really. Dexter hosts a very nice event in August which I’ve enjoyed being a part of. It’s scaled back this year, and out of an abundance of caution, I opted out. I had a subject and location selected for my painting — a lovely old house near downtown Dexter that has intrigued me for a long time. Deciding not to participate this year was hard. I’ll miss the camaraderie of the other artists and seeing my hometown through their eyes.

How have you responded to the Pandemic?
I got to a point where I wanted to do something worthwhile during all this. I’m a retired graphic designer and I love designing posters. I created a 50-year commemorative poster for a historic local event and sold a number of them with the proceeds going to St Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital. That was gratifying.

What are you doing differently?
Rather than painting my selected painting subject for the PleinAir event, I decided to do it in my studio. As the painting was underway, I was able to return to the spot to check and quickly sketch details and lighting that my reference photos missed. It wasn’t quite the same as being on location, but it worked. The finished painting is titled “Good Morning Dexter” (Oil on canvas. 18” x 24”).  I sold a giclée print of this after posting it to my site, and it led to a commissioned work which I’m working on now.

What else has changed?
In a way, the adjustment to staying close to home during this pandemic has not been terribly challenging. When I’m painting in the studio I almost become a hermit anyway. My wife and daughter are reliably constructive critics and they keep me honest. With all this time at home, I’ve found opportunities to revisit previous paintings and I’ve attempted ‘makeovers’ with a mixed level of success. (See attached “First Light” and “Eddy 1 & 2”).

I  must admit that I’m enjoying the sanctuary that my studio offers. It’s good for my soul to get away from the daily stream of breaking news.  But, I miss going to exhibits, talking in person with other artists, comparing notes, etc. That was my reason for joining AAWA  earlier this year. When this is over, I don’t think I’ll take that for granted.

If you would like to share your ‘Art making in a time of Coronavirus’ experience with us, please get in touch!

OUR CHANGEOVER to Huron River Art Collective has officially happened. The technicalities can take a little time – but we’re working on it! For now, you may see posts, email and messages under either name. Thank you for your patience! Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook (public Page and private Group for Members), and Instagram. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!