How you can access and support local arts while social distancing

Florida artists, museums, and galleries are stepping up in creative and innovative ways to meet the needs of the community while the threat of COVID-19 keeps us home and looking for things to do. Take a peek into what Florida artists and arts venues are doing and how you can help. 
 
"Right now, artists are doing what artists do in times of crisis,'' says Clay Hollenkamp of Periphery Media, who is hosting an open call for the virtual exhibition Social Distance. "Artists are going to make art, so we’re going to produce exhibitions and contribute to and support the arts in this way. Everyone has their own way to support others in this time, and this is ours.” 
 
The arts ecosystem is already in a constant state of fragility, as evidenced by the difficulty of many arts-related businesses and organizations to stay afloat even during times of peace and without the threat of disease or financial crisis.

Before COVID-19, many struggling museums and galleries in Florida were preparing for a big year of programming and events leading up to the normal peak tourism season of springtime and on into fall.

That, of course, has been pushed back, creating a domino effect on schedules through the next three years or longer. Despite this, the generosity of both individuals and organizations is helping to ensure that the arts are staying alive and well until this passes.
 
“By having more of an online presence, arts organizations and individual artists have the ability to engage more directly with their audience and infuse their creative point-of-view in just about every facet of daily life -- to encourage mindfulness, critical thinking, a brief respite or even humor when it is needed most,'' says Christine Renc-Carter, Curator of the Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art in Tarpon Springs.

"By providing educational and creative content and interactive activities for all ages, institutions are using technology to find creative ways to engage and help bring the community together,'' Renc-Carter continues. "The ingenuity of creative people who work for these institutions (and individual artists) has gone above and beyond to help the community, such as making 3-D printed face masks for healthcare workers. That just blows me away.” 
 
While arts organizations and individual artists are stepping up to today's challenges, they still need the support of the greater community. 

How can you help? Become a member. Make a donation. Share events and activities with friends and family so that audiences continue to grow until our collective doors are able to open again.
 
"Although I think the cultural landscape may change a bit, there will be a greater sense of community as we come through the other side of this,'' Renc-Carter says. "Aside from funding, engagement and comradery is key.''
 
Virtual exhibitions, calls to artists
 
Social Distance Call for Entries -- From the folks that hosted “Shelter: Concepts of Home,” Periphery Media is asking artists to enter their new virtual visual art exhibition called “Social Distance,” open to any artist, local or international. A submission fee of $10 is being pooled together to serve as prize money for the artist who gets the most votes in a public jurying for the crowd favorite. The deadline to submit is April 10, and the online exhibition will be held April 13-27.
 
Florida CraftArt Call for “Environmentally Engaged” art -- Curated by Kenny Jensen, “Environmentally Engaged” is an open call for those using craft techniques (ceramics, fiber, glass, jewelry, metal, mixed-media, sculpture, wood) to bring up topics about our natural world, the impending effects of climate change, and our relationship overall with the natural world. Early submissions are accepted through April 27, with the final deadline of May 12 for a June exhibition.
  
FMoPA’s 10th Annual International Photography Competition -- The deadline for entry for the Florida Museum of Photographic Art has been extended for this annual photography competition, and is now April 20. Categories include: People/Portraits, Places/Landscape/Drone, Nature/Science/Animals, Documentation/Social and Political, and Conceptual Photography.
  
Local financial support for artists, arts organizations
 

Pinellas Arts Community Relief Fund -- Open to Pinellas County artists, arts organizations, and creative businesses, this grant aims to provide relief for those who can show a specific, immediate financial need during this time of emergency to cover anything from rest, utilities, food, healthcare, and basic needs for individual artists, or rent, payroll, employee healthcare or other essential operating costs for arts organizations. Artists can receive $500 and funds between $500-$1,500 will be awarded to arts-related businesses. To donate funds or apply for a grant, visit the Community Relief Fund.
 
Arts Council of Hillsborough County -- The Arts Council has pulled together a helpful list of state and national resources available for struggling artists and arts organizations.  
 
Other arts-related events, virtual happenings
 
CARES Act for Artists -- On April 8 from 10-11 a.m., the Gobioff Foundation will host a free Zoom webinar going over the CARES Act and how it relates to individual artists. Jan Pitchford, an SBA loan specialist, and Jack Santaniello, a corporate and franchise attorney, will be giving a short presentation followed by a Q&A session. For more information
 
Creative Pinellas Emerging Artists: A Facebook Live Conversation -- To conclude months of hard work and creative groundbreaking art, the 2020 Creative Pinellas Emerging Artists -- Patricia Kluwe Derderian, Lynn Foskett, Steph Hargrove, Mark Mitchell, Zoe Papas, Gianna Pergamo, Kodi Thompson, Judy Vienneau, and Angela Warren -- will talk about their work and artistic investigations in a Facebook Live conversation on April 16 from 7-9 p.m. A virtual exhibition will be held for these artists on the Creative Pinellas website.
 
Florida CraftArt in St. Petersburg -- For fiber fanatics, a virtual workshop with artist Marlene Glickman, who has work in the current exhibition “Contemporary Fiber in Florida 2020,” will take place on April 18 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Glickman will be going over various techniques and concepts for you to make your own way with fiber collage and fusing.
 
St. Petersburg Second Saturday Virtual ArtWalk -- If you’re used to reserving the second Saturday of every month to check out what’s happening in the St. Pete arts scene, you can still take an ArtWalk/ArtSit on April 11, from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. with each venue hosting their own virtual gallery and exhibitions to continue to support artists and studios that are suffering financially.

Tempus Projects in Seminole Heights -- POST-PARADISE is a new, virtual online exhibition of small ceramics works by Karen Tauches of HOUSE of TAU. Tempus Members get the added perk of a sneak peek and first in line to make purchases on Friday, April 17. After that, the online exhibition and the ability to purchase will be open to the public. 
 
USF Contemporary Art Museum in Tampa -- Though viewers can’t physically visit the current MFA (master of fine arts) graduation exhibition “Battin’ Battin’ Battin’ A Hundred,” the show will go on with virtual visits with the artists to learn about their thesis work. Additionally, USF CAM is planning a summer virtual exhibition "Life During Wartime,'' featuring responses to the COVID-19 pandemic by leading artists.
 
USF Graphicstudio in Tampa -- Graphicstudio, a creative space at the University of South Florida for research into art-making techniques, has subtlety been making its own impact on Facebook by posting an artwork a day through the workweek, highlighting a particular collaboration and a little bit of insight on the artist or their time spent working there. Follow this link to get a little bit of narrative and background information that you wouldn’t typically know. 
 
Dunedin Fine Art Center -- There is an art to social distancing, and the Dunedin Fine Art Center shows us how with posts of past noteworthy exhibitions in a virtual format. To virtually tour this exhibition, as well as current student and member exhibitions, visit the Art Center's website.
 
Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art in Tarpon Springs -- Virtual art exhibitions aren’t the only things the Leepa-Rattner is doing to foster vibrant stay-at-home museum visits. The museum will soon be hosting Virtual Happy Hours, Zoom lectures, trivia, art therapy, conversations with the curator/director, and musical performances while we stay safely at home. They are also integrating the museum into digital course curriculum not only for St. Petersburg College students, but also for high schoolers throughout Pinellas County.
 
Gallery221 at Hillsborough Community College -- Gallery 221 in West Tampa will be transitioning their annual “Calyx Schenecker Art Infinitum: Hillsborough County High School Fine Art Competition” into a virtual format that you can stroll as you lounge at home. They are also working toward a virtual award ceremony for this exhibition. To keep track of their events, follow Gallery221 on Facebook
 
The Dalí Museum in St. Petersburg -- The Dalí Museum has made its exhibition “Midnight in Paris, 1929” available online with sound lectures. The Dali also is providing artistic lesson plans for various grade levels, including the infamous Exquisite Corpse game.
 
Museum of Fine Arts St. Pete -- In addition to other virtual events like #MuseumGames, the MFA is hosting a virtual book club on April 16 through Zoom. Author Lissa Evans will be hosting this gathering via Zoom She will be talking about her book “Old Baggage.” The event is free, but registration is required and it’s limited to 100 participants. Check out more details.
 
Tampa Museum of Art -- Along with other #MuseumFromHome activities like virtual tours of their exhibitions and live-stream events, one big thing the TMA is doing for the community is hosting Art Spot Online for kids with various follow-along art activities (the first one is about how to draw an ancient Greek pattern called Meander). Keep track of TMA's virtual events.

Florida Museum of Photographic Arts -- For a half-hour at 4 p.m. through Apil and May, FMoPA will be hosting Tuesday Hangouts through Twitch to provide updates on work at the museum and back-and-forth discussion about new ideas for FMoPA programming.
 
The Creative Coalition -- In order to help share the arts during the pandemic, The Creative Coalition asks you to #Take5withTCC, to step away from the news, and record up to a 5 min. video using your #RightToBearArts during this time of crisis. The video can be anything from a tutorial on how to do something or showing a particular technique, reading your favorite children’s book or poem, singing a song, dancing, painting, drawing, or any other artistic demo or performance. Films can be sent directly from your phone using WeTransfer, a free and easy-to-use platform. For assistance, contact [email protected].
 
 Caitlin Albritton is currently volunteering as a mentor to one of the 2020 Creative Pinellas Emerging Artists.

Read more articles by Caitlin Albritton.

Caitlin Albritton is a freelance writer based in Tampa with a BFA from Savannah College of Art and Design and a MFA from Maryland Institute College of Art. When she's not looking at art throughout town, she can be found making it. You can keep up with her visual art on Instagram @caitlinalbritton or on her website. Visit her recent line of inlay “wearable paintings.”
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