Expression Therapy, Creative Marketing Prevail in Area Galleries and Studios

Galleries and art spaces from the National Gallery of Art in DC to the Torpedo Factory and Del Ray Artisans have adapted to COVID shutdowns with impressive ingenuity.

Del Ray photographer Terry Atkin Rowe’s “Point of View” won Honorable Mention at the Art League Gallery May 2020 Open Exhibit viewed online and juried by Allison Nance. (Photo: Terry Atkin Rowe)

Alexandria, VA – Galleries and art spaces from the National Gallery of Art in DC to the Torpedo Factory and Del Ray Artisans have adapted to COVID shutdowns with impressive ingenuity. While the National Gallery doesn’t showcase working artists, their outreach has been exemplary. Virtual tours, online curator talks, art classes, even recreating the planned “Nights On the Edge” finale last month for the distance experience have provided art aficionados with a breadth of enriching and entertaining activities these past months.

The Torpedo Factory studios have been closed to all but member artists and City staff, but for the Art League, the show must go on! The DC chapter of the Sogetsu School was welcomed back for the 18th Biennial Ikebana show. Although unavailable to the general public for viewing, the always imaginative Ikebana demonstrations on virtual exhibit were awe-inspiring.

Ikebana is a traditional Japanese art form of floral arrangement which presents a symbiotic complement of the natural material to its pre-determined vessel for display. Even while the exhibit was forced online, the elegant Zen beauty of the entries proved to be extraordinary.

Painting and Ikebana pairing from the Art League 18th Biennial Ikebana wxhibit. “Summer Splash” acrylic mixed-media painting by Fabiano Amin with Ikebana arranger Gloria Hege.

Each Ikebana sculptural floral arrangement is paired with artwork that served as the inspiration for the design. Peonies, lilies, azalea, hosta leaves, and twisted bare branches combine in a tango with the two and three-dimensional art, which is available for sale while the arrangements are not.

As it stands now, the Art League hopes to reopen June 10 but the Ikebana show will only be on exhibit through June 7. The show was curated by Sogetsu School members. Be sure to go to www.theartleague.org to catch the exhibit online. While you are there don’t miss the May 2020 Art League show juried by Alison Nance, also on exhibit online through June 7. Like the National Gallery, the Art League has been holding distant art classes online.

Del Ray Artisans has been closed to artists and the public since March. Countless calendar changes have occurred since the spring shutdown of the nonprofit artist cooperative space. The enchanting “Tell Me a Story” was extended online through June 10, with the April and May exhibits postponed until later in this year and next year. The memorial show in honor of the late John Hiller planned for July has been rescheduled for next year.

With its tirelessly creative artists, even in a worldwide pandemic DRA wasted no time in making the best of challenging times. There’s no better therapy than working through emotional upheaval and protracted stress via artistic expression. Members participated in a card exchange where postcard-sized original art was shared among the community by mail, with one lucky participant receiving a surprise Guy Jones drawing. Guy is a well-known Torpedo Factory artist and generous patron of local art endeavors.

Currently there is a new show exhibiting online through July 31. “Art by Mail” is a small-works show of oil, watercolor, acrylic, print, and mixed-media images along with handcrafted jewelry, art card packs, coasters, ceramics, and other three-dimensional works. Many of the participating artists focused on themes predicated by the COVID crisis: fear, alienation, hope, unity.

“Hope” acrylic mixed-media on canvas by Fabiano Amin, part of the May 2020 Open Exhibit at the Art League of the Torpedo Factory.
“Underwater World” acrylic on panel by Michel Reday Cook, a member of Del Ray Artisans participating in the “Art by Mail” online exhibit. (Photo: M. Reday Cook)
“Morning Light”, a watercolor from the “Art by Mail” exhibit with Del Ray Artisans by Lesley Hall, curator of “Tell Me a Story“ also on exhibit online at DRA through June 10. (Photo: Lesley Hall)
“Take Care” by Ellen Rosenthal. A print from the Del Ray Artisans “Art by Mail” online exhibit available until July 31. (Photo: Ellen Rosenthal)

Purchases are ready to ship directly from the artist. Sales support the local arts community and help maintain the 28-year-old nonprofit art space. Prices are as much a temptation as the diminutive artwork itself. They make great gifts. And Father’s Day is coming! www.delrayartisans.org

Thinking outside the crayon box and coloring outside drawn lines presents a challenge, even for the most experienced artists. Nothing is more intimidating than a blank canvas, a blob of clay, or a white sheet of paper, except maybe marketing art and making it available over the ephemeral exhibit mode. A standing ovation to our local artists and artisans, as well as gallery staff and board leadership, who have kept the virtual lights on day and night. We continue to be inspired by their commitment and fortitude.

Remember to be safe, be strong, and be creative!

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