GRAYSON Grayson Gallery and Art Center hasn’t let the isolation of the COVID-19 pandemic hinder its activities.
The gallery has presented two virtual shows, taking the place of shows presented annually, and there are plans for another.
Gallery coordinator Dan Click said the Women in the Arts show was scheduled for March 27; the physical get-together was canceled. An advocate of the museum who was responsible for the musical entertainment at the show’s opening shared performances online, as did some of the artists.
“I decided to send our usual call for work after all for March but promoted it as a ‘virtual show’ and had a tremendous response,” Click said. “One unexpected benefit has been the large number of artists from farther away who've shown an interest in our events in the past but have been unable to travel here to deliver it or couldn't ship their work as needed for the deadlines.”
In April, the gallery continued by having a virtual Earth Day-themed show, which drew more than 30 artists and nearly 120 pieces of art.
“The annual Celebrate the Earth Show even went a little smoother and this has definitely caught on with artists and the public,” said Click, noting the upcoming virtual show will begin accepting submissions on Saturday.
“Artist Wanda Richmond who has ties to this area and is a dedicated artist and a Grayson Gallery & Art Center, Inc. participant/supporter suggested we create a ‘COVID show.’ So that's what we have planned for May,” he said.
The title will be a little different — Click said he hopes to think of a better one — but the idea is for artists to share what they’ve been creating while confined to their homes and studios during the pandemic.
“We'll also urge them to share their own favorite creations from their portfolios and just about anything that showcases how they are dealing with these unprecedented times,” he said.
Pieces should be sent from Saturday through May 23 as clear photographs of up to three pieces, any medium, with the title, medium and price listed on each. Photos may be sent to email@example.com or by a private message to https://www.facebook.com/dan.graysongallery.
Click said while the “magic number” of participants seems to be hovering around 30, it’s a better response than expected.
Virtual shows have had unexpected benefits, he said.
“At this time, of course, it is a way to show artists' work from afar — they are able to stay safe and healthy at home, yet conveniently send the pieces out via photographs. That alone has helped many learn how to best photograph their work, perhaps brush up a bit on new technology and still remain an active participant in exhibits,” he said.
The gallery has seen benefits, too.
“We've remained viable and still able to meet the most important part of our mission — ‘To provide a venue to showcase the arts’ — even without being open and hands-on. Personally, I've learned that can mean a virtual venue as well and GGAC visitors are able to enjoy the shows in comfort and safety.”
Meanwhile, the gallery also is planning offerings for the future.
The gallery is being considered as virtual host for a creative workshop through an Appalachian networking group called “What’s Next EKY?” and Mountain Arts Community Economic Development.
“Through an organization called the AIR Institute, they are creating an online version of their EVOLVE training and we hope the GGAC itself will be the host — again, virtually,” Click said. “In addition, our in-house arts instructor, Valerie Everman, is working with GGAC Board member Heather Berry, East Carter High School art teacher, on another project right now for serving special needs children, with a focus on those on the autism scale, via an organization called Arts for All.”
Taking more projects to the internet has been a positive, learning experience, Click said, but there is no substitute for in-person shows.
“I truly miss seeing and interacting with everyone in person,” he said.
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To submit pieces to the Grayson Gallery and Art Center for the May show, email clear photographs of up to three pieces, any medium, with the title, medium and price listed on each, to firstname.lastname@example.org or private message to facebook.com/dan.graysongallery.