Like so many others, artist Christine Wichers is feeling a bit out of sorts these days. She and her husband are 72; her mother, 94, lives with them.
“We’re in that high target range” for susceptibility to the novel coronavirus, said Wichers, who lives in Washougal, Wash. “I worry every single day that I am going to make some kind of mistake and cause us harm. I could do something wrong and bring that home or make one trip to the grocery store too many.”
But she does take comfort in her afternoon painting routine and recently found herself channeling the anxiety and uncertainty into her art. She’d been working on a series of sea creatures, with a focus on the eyes.
“I just started putting paint on the canvas,” she said. And as the work she has since dubbed At Home Day 9 evolved, she knew she’d captured her stormy spirit. “I said, ‘Dang, that’s how I feel.’”
Then came that moment of serendipity, the place every artist hopes to land – a gallery to share her work.
The Hoffman Center for the Arts in Manzanita is hosting Creating in Place: Connecting in a Time of Uncertainty. The project was Hoffman Center board member David Dillon’s idea.
“I was just sitting around thinking about the situation where we’re all separated from each other and the Hoffman Center is closed down,” Dillon said. “I remembered back to 9/11, when local artist Susan Walsh came up with the idea of the Tower Art, where people were asked to express something about what happened on 9/11. The show was stunning and emotional. You let artists loose, and they come up with all kinds of stuff.”
So far, the project, which is only a few days old, has attracted paintings and photography, but there’s room for all media, Dillon said. He posted one photo of a deserted streetscape, titled Die Tote Stadt or The Dead City, after the German opera of the same name, and another of neighbors sharing a drink from their respective sides of the fence. The virus and ensuing shutdown have had “a profound effect on our community,” Dillon said. “You walk around town and there is nothing going on.”
The center invites visual artists to sketch, draw, or paint in any medium and submit a digital photograph of the finished work. Photographs of three-dimensional artwork, such as wood, ceramics, or sculpture, also are welcome, and writers are encouraged to submit a PDF of their work. Dancing, music, or kinetic art may be filmed and sent to the website.
“People are doing all kinds of things,” Dillon said. “People can put on skits. They can do whatever they want. We’re told to stay apart, yet we’re humans and we like to interact with each other. Unleash the artist.”