Over the past year, COVID-19 has changed the way many people relate to and engage with art, and although it has put a halt to many endeavors in the past year, the Voorhees Arts Council (VAC) has found a creative solution to keep the arts alive.
On May 3, the VAC will present the fourth installment of its virtual art museum. Marianne Leone, executive director of VAC, will give a live tour starting at 7 p.m.
In addition to the tour, on every weekday in April up to May 3, Leone will conduct a half-hour, live interview with a local artist over Zoom and Facebook starting at 4:30 p.m. The theme is Art Adventures with the Storytellers. Anyone interested in learning more about the artists or the artwork are given an opportunity to ask their questions directly to the artists. The lineup includes artists from South Jersey, the Philadelphia area and one who lives in California.
Leone decided on the format after listening to feedback from last year and combined the Ask the Artist Line Up with the installment of the virtual museum exhibits. With the interviews done daily, each artist gets more time to speak on their pieces than they would if they were only presenting on the night of the tour.
“Every weekday, we are going to go on an adventure with an artist,” Leone explained. “After talking with other artists a month ago, I thought, ‘We really are the storytellers, and we should do another series a little bit different from ‘Ask the Artist,’ really selecting the art piece with the story behind it that will take us on an adventure of how this piece came to be.”
The exhibit will feature pieces of 20 artist interviews during the month of April; and tickets are $7.
Since the pandemic, more museums have created virtual displays to share art with the public. While it does allow for more possibilities, such as showcasing pieces that have been physically sold and wider accessibility for viewers, there have also been sacrifices made in presenting the art virtually. Larger works have been condensed to fit comfortably on screens, and the lighting of photographs may misrepresent what the piece looks like in person.
Maria Sammartino, an abstract expressionist from Philadelphia whose work will be featured in the virtual museum, misses being able to present art in person.
“I really would like to show my art up front and personal,” she shared. “Virtually it’s okay, but you don’t get a feel for the art experience or the art. There’s a huge difference standing in front of a Rothko and looking at it online, so I don’t like that so much, but it is what it is. It’s okay. I’m happy to be able to do that, and I appreciate that VAC gives artists the opportunity to do that.”
Even though COVID has meant fewer in person exhibits, it hasn’t stopped people from being creative. Kim Clay, a Somerdale artist who specializes in pet paintings, has been painting daily during the pandemic, so not much has changed for her personally. But she has noticed that a lot more people have taken an interest in art.
“During the pandemic, a lot of people that never picked up a paintbrush in their life started painting, started playing music: All kinds of art went on,” Clay reflected. “I couldn’t order paint online; it was sold out in every store. That’s how much people were doing it. I thought, ‘This is fantastic!’ People really appreciate it.”
Tickets for the virtual art museum’s live tour can be purchased at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/live-virtual-tour-art-adventures-with-the-storytellers-exhibit-tickets-144286557979?fbclid=IwAR2SlSZWy-wQB271gCxoSc0z5fPZWRtxXQFHRkcdEUaoss7-NUkUhOOO6G8. To watch previous recordings of the interviews, or see who’s next in the lineup, visit https://voorheesartscouncil.org/upcoming-events/art-adventures-storyteller-line-up/.
The Voorhees Arts Council is still very much in need of funding to continue to offer these art programs to the community. If you’d like to support them, you can donate at https://charity.gofundme.com/o/en/campaign/voorhees-arts-council.