In a time where feelings of isolation seem perpetually never-ending and society has sat silent for months, people are seeking out ways to re-connect with both neighbors and the art community alike. As the world slowly and hesitantly wakes up from the seven-plus-month quarantine we have been hibernating within, many New England galleries and art exhibits have begun the process of opening back up. Curious to see how these local organizations have adapted to follow COVID-19 precautions while providing exhibits that are fresh and engaging, I jumped at the opportunity to become emerged in the virtual arts community. Whether it be bidding on local artist’s pieces or the unveiling of new exhibits, there is something to be enjoyed by everyone.
The Zoom link worked as my gallery ticket, an entrance into the New England art scene that I had been separated from for far too long. As I sat waiting for my event to start, cheese board and wine glass set and ready, I thought about the differences I might notice between a virtual gallery opening versus its in-person counterpart. I will admit that there was a sense of anxiety that these events may only enhance my feelings of isolation. However, I found it to be quite the opposite.
The first event that I attended was hosted by Copley Society of Art (Co|So) for their annual fundraiser, “Fresh Paint: Hidden Gems.” Fresh Paint opened bidding on September 1, with the event culminating on the 17 with a live auction. With 55 pieces up for auction, this event was rife with action. As the number rose with each bid, so did my eagerness to participate. Who were these hidden bidders? While independent from a large crowd, there was a sense of excitement to be found in wondering who else was watching this event, silently (or perhaps wildly) bidding on each piece. Stuart Slaivd, the leading auctioneer of Skinner Auctioneers, led the audience through the night with introductions to each piece and helped keep the humor alive by offering guests the occasional Zoom bathroom break. It was refreshing to partake in an event that regularly would require a large and active audience to operate.
A week later, on September 24th, Fairfield University Art Museum held a virtual celebration in honor of its 10th anniversary. Fairfield University Art Museum plans to remain closed to the public for the remainder of fall but will be hosting a series of online lectures open to members and non-members. This anniversary event was hosted by executive director Carey M. Weber and former directors Jill Deupi and Linda Wolk-Simon, with other special guests. The warm and welcoming ambiance that seems to only be found within one’s favorite art gallery was sure to be found during FUAM’s event. With the unveiling of Fairfield’s newest exhibit “Andrew Forge: The Limits of Sight”, the museum had beautifully curated a video that made the guest feel as if they were within the walls of Bellarmine Hall Gallery. Each guest brought their own sense of enthusiasm to the screen, bringing lively energy into this digital celebration of the arts. As the event slowly came to an end and guests began logging off, it was hard to feel alone after spending time in the company of a community that cares so deeply about its craft.
As the walls of quarantine slowly come down, galleries everywhere are working hard to offer exhibits that are inclusive to viewing needs. Whether you’re looking for a lecture or just a casual gallery tour, there is something to be found for any digital consumer. Check out Artscope’s Event Calendar to find out more about galleries and exhibition openings!