Virtually existent

You may not be able to see it in person, but "La Lucha: Convergence of Identity" can still be seen on your phone screen. (Photo courtesy of Andres Alvarez)

During coronavirus shutdown, artists find ways to show their work

The sounds of a Lucha Libre match emanate from a small CRT television facing an empty floral-patterned couch. Lining the walls are photographs of men, women and children, their faces hidden by luchador masks. Some are placed within various wooden and embossed frames—the kinds of picture frames you might find in an average home. Adding to that atmosphere are wooden cabinets, a full body mirror and a simple bed with a bright red heavy blanket thrown on top.

These are scenes from La Lucha: Convergence of Identity, an exhibition held at the Latino Center of Art and Culture by artists Andres Alvarez, Bridgett Rex and Alejandra Olave.

But you’re supposed to be staying home, so how can you see the exhibition? That’s where Aida Lizalde, education director at Verge Center for the Arts, comes in.

On March 16, Lizalde, along with Faith McKinnie, Uma Tufekcic and Zoe Reinhardt, started Sac Virtual Art Tours, a pro bono Instagram account where artists can share exhibitions that have been halted due to COVID-19, or offer virtual studio tours while Sacramento’s stay-at-home order remains in effect.

For many artists, getting people to go out to see their work is a big part of making a living, and exhibits are a key way to sell their work.

“[We’re] hoping to add links so people can reach out and buy work directly from the artists or galleries,” Lizalde said. “And to make sure artists’ [works are] still being seen.”

Crocker Art Museum has adopted a similar strategy after closing its doors to the public. The museum recently posted 68 photographs from a student exhibition, Voices: Speaking With Your Photographic Eye, which would have opened for Photography Month in April.

So far, Sac Virtual Art Tours has showcased 10 artists, including Sixteen Frames from Axis Gallery. It shows the work of Bay Area photographer Murray Bowles, who spent nearly 40 years photographing the punk scene. Much of his work makes use of a strong, bright flash that highlights the wild, frenetic motion of punk rockers jostling against each other and flying through the air.

Aside from exhibitions, you can also get a glimpse of some artists’ studios, including that of Verge resident Caiti Chan, who walks the viewer through her work space, showing off colorful abstract paintings that line the walls.

“The stay-at-home order has affected public art spaces, and I think that sharing our private art spaces virtually was a special way to counteract that.”

Caiti Chan, resident at Verge Center for the Arts

One photograph included in her post shows four bright paintings on a cement floor surrounded by open containers holding different paints. The floor is spattered with almost as much paint as the canvases.

“I was really excited the artists were coming together to keep people involved in their lives while being quarantined,” Chan said. “The stay-at-home order has affected public art spaces, and I think that sharing our private art spaces virtually was a special way to counteract that.”

With uncertainty looming over the arts community in Sacramento, Sac Virtual Art Tours offers artists and creatives a space for their work to be seen despite social distancing measures. Leave it to creatives to find creative solutions to unexpected roadblocks.

“We just want to make sure our colleagues in Sac who are artists can still make a living,” Lizalde said.

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