“Men work together,” I told him from the heart,
“Whether they work together or apart.” – Robert Frost’s “The Tuft of Flowers”
There are few truer expressions of the sentiment of Frost’s poem – about the way beauty and sharing can link strangers who otherwise never meet, than ArtsWestchester’s new exhibit “Together apART: Creating During COVID,” which opens Friday, May 7, at its Arts Exchange headquarters in White Plains. The show plumbs our shared experience of the pandemic – which each of us experienced in some way separately – in more than 250 works of painting, photography, sculpture, craft, song and other creative activities by 224 Hudson Valley artists. (I’m delighted to say my story “The Glass Door,” about the imagined relationship between a Brooklyn writer and a grocery-store deliveryman during the early days of the crisis, is among the works.)
“Together apART” is an exhibit of the creative projects that gave meaning and purpose to our lives in what Eleanor Roosevelt might’ve called “no ordinary time.” The range of expressions reflects individual perspectives on the pandemic yet also highlights the shared experiences of this period in our common history. Thus, the show considers what it means to be a part of as well as apart from.
“Covid-19 has profoundly changed the contours of our daily lives,” says Janet T. Langsam, ArtsWestchester’s CEO. “At this time of great loss and physical distancing, many of us have turned to creative outlets to help us cope, to express our anguish and to gain agency when we feel helpless.”
“Creativity helps us to reclaim a connection to our friends, families and self,” adds Kathleen Reckling, ArtsWestchester’s deputy director and curator, who organized the show with director of folk arts Aaron Paige and gallery coordinator Logan Hanley. “Throughout the last year, we have found new ways to celebrate and mourn, to recognize and memorialize major life events from weddings to passings. We have documented our experiences in quarantine diaries and creative cookbooks. We have endeavored to protect our loved ones and those on the frontlines with handcrafted masks. We have painted the scenes and changing seasons from our windows and captured the faces of our ‘quarantine teams’ in photo and gouache.”
ArtsWestchester is committed to fostering a safe and welcoming environment for all. Its historic Bank & Trust Building at 31 Mamaroneck Ave. features 4,800 square feet of presentation space, soaring 20-foot-high ceilings and distinctive Palladian windows, making it a unique venue to experience the work of Hudson Valley artists in thematic, community-centered programs. All visitors to the gallery will be required to register for an entry time and complete a Covid-19 screening survey prior to entering the gallery.
All staff and visitors will also be required to wear a face mask, maintain physical distancing and observe all traffic flow instructions while in the gallery. Hand sanitizer will be available throughout the exhibit, which can also be viewed online. Admission is free, with a suggested donation of $5.
“Together apART” runs through Aug. 1. For more on gallery hours and reservations, visit artswestchester.org. And for more on pandemic art, check out WAG’s May issue on “Reinventing the Landscape,” available May 7.
– Georgette Gouveia