Virtual Visions

A new outlook on art



WHAT: Virtual Children’s Art Walk
WHEN: May 1-15

WHAT: Art for Housing
WHEN: 4pm-6pm Fri., May 8

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

I miss walking into rooms made solely for the purpose of admiring art.

With galleries in Washington state shuttered until at least May 31 due to concerns associated with the coronavirus crisis, I’ve had to make do by taking a more introspective look at the collection on the walls of my own house—which includes pieces by local painters Brandi Cleveland, Randy Clark (aka FishBoy), and Thomas Wood, among others.

Of course, I needn’t limit myself to endlessly gazing at the artwork in my own domicile in order to get a creative fix. Many venues continue to showcase and sell pieces online during the shutdown, and event-based exhibits are following suit.

That’s the case with the new virtual version of Allied Arts’ annual Children’s Art Walk. Last May, the show celebrating the end of the school year and the arts activities that take place in our local schools saw the artwork of more than 2,000 youth from throughout Whatcom County displayed in approximately 60 downtown Bellingham businesses, with a citywide soiree taking place the first Friday in May.

This year, the outlook is decidedly different. Instead of celebrating the 20th anniversary of the event by filling the windows of local businesses with color supplied by elementary-aged students, Allied Arts will be inviting the public at large to get involved by posting images or videos of their children’s creations on their Facebook or Instagram pages with the hashtag #ChildrensArtWalk through Fri., May 15.

“Life in Whatcom County is a lot different this spring, with the COVID-19 quarantine our schools and businesses are closed and we are confined to our homes,” organizers say. “We know creativity is thriving. We have seen dozens of social media posts of whimsical chalk art, fantastic performances and perfectly calibrated chain reaction machines and sculptures.

“In honor of this homegrown creativity, Allied Arts is taking the 20th annual Children’s Art Walk virtual! This program is primarily for elementary school-aged youth, but anyone is welcome to join in.”

In addition to the aforementioned directives related to posting images or videos online, additional suggestions include sharing artwork with your neighbors by adorning your sidewalk with chalk art, displaying creations in front windows, or creating yard sculptures.

If schools that had already signed up to participate in the Children’s Art Walk are able to safely hang their shows in the business they had signed up for, Allied Arts will also feature the work in a special post, and they’ll automatically be part of the exhibit.

Projects that have already been highlighted include a virtual exhibit of thought-provoking works by sixth-graders at Franklin Academy who took on the challenge of creating surrealist paintings (an example is pictured above), and posters made by Whatcom Middle School art students who found inspiration from 1930s- and ’40s-era posters made by artists under the Federal Arts Project for the Works Progress Administration (WPA). By crafting their own public service announcements relating to the current pandemic, they’re creating posters that are both topical and timely.

In the midst of the virtual Children’s Art Walk, Lydia Place will be drawing attention to their annual “Art for Housing” fundraiser taking place from 4pm-6pm on Fri., May 8.

Typically, patrons would’ve gotten dressed up and spent a night bidding on local and regional art at a designated venue. During this go-round, everything will be happening online, so folks will able to lounge around in yoga pants and hoodies while helping secure funds for the nonprofit’s mental health program.

If you sign up for the free event, you’ll not only have the opportunity to bid on dozens of exclusive pieces donated by local artists, you’ll also hear from Lydia Place’s staff and partners about why the program is so important to the organization’s mission to disrupt the cycle of homelessness.

Those who register by 5pm Thurs., May 7 will be entered into a drawing for two season passes to the Sylvia Center for the Arts, so don’t delay in getting in on the auction action.

When Art for Housing begins, simply sit back and listen to stories, peruse art, enjoy harp music from Alisha Joubert, and check out artist and sponsor spotlights while bidding on your favorite artworks. Lydia Place staff and volunteers will be available via chat, text or phone to answer questions and help troubleshoot any concerns during the event.

If you’re lucky enough to get the piece you had your eye on, they’ll arrange contactless drop-off at your home or office within seven days of the auction, and you’ll be able to add to your in-house art exhibit—which will give you more to look at when you can’t visit the galleries of your dreams.

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