Connection and commerce...in a digital space
The collective effort in social distancing, quarantines and lockdowns in parts of the world during this evolving COVID-19 pandemic has temporarily curtailed our valued interactive experiences such as visiting museums, browsing galleries, bidding on auction floors and hobnobbing at fairs.
If you're among the multimillions of people working (kinda) from home or having to limit in-person contact with others, here are some ways to engage yourself in the arts while helping to support both institutions and people in the art world during tenuous times:
1. Lose yourself in social media. Follow your favorite museums, fairs, artists, and galleries for their latest news, and if not to enjoy a visual feast, you can make comments or discover "fresh" artworks. Instagram immersion suggestion: 20 popular in art.
2. Bid at auctions online. Go to the auction website first to check if they have online bidding, and then choose a platform such as Bidsquare or LiveAuctioneers, or head to the platform first to browse for finds like the five stunning Tiffany Studios lamps at Clarke Auction Gallery's March 22 sale.
3. Buy art online. Boston's Vose Galleries has its current exhibition viewable online, All but the Artist Rest: An Exploration of Figurative Painting. Some dealers also have online viewing rooms for current shows, see PACE Gallery's exhibition of Kenneth Noland's Flares and more; or walk-through galleries like Marc Straus on Eazel. Check out an aggregator site such as Artsy to search by location, artist or other criteria.
4. Make an appointment at your local gallery (in some areas, call ahead). Some dealers in Asia Week New York are exhibiting through March 19 (by appointment, check ahead), including Carole Davenport Japanese Art (22 E. 80th St. at Leigh Morse Fine Art) with 'Shinto Redux,' featuring Gozu Tenno, a late 12th century Heian period figure of the god warding off pestilence and exorcising evil spirits responsible for the frequent outbreak of epidemic disease.
5. Go to a virtual art fair. Art Basel Hong Kong was cancelled, but the fair plans on launching Online Viewing Rooms, March 20-25. Now, we all get to attend the fair.
6. Read art books and catalogues. Inspired by Giorgio Vasari’s Lives of the Artists, a new series of brief biographies will be available on March 31 from LKP. First up is Artemisia Gentileschi written by Jonathan Jones, The Guardian's art critic, and released just ahead of the major retrospective at London's National Gallery. (UK museums are open as of 3/15 although some lending institutions for this show are now closed. UPDATE 3/18: This show has been postponed).
7. Take virtual museum and historic site tours. Google Arts & Culture has a street view stroll-through of Pompeii, online collections and exhibits from museums plus artist features, see Explore Van Gogh's Bedroom. Also, ‘IN TOUCH’ is a new initiative of Florence's Palazzo Strozzi where the museum's website has become a public platform for words, images, videos, stories and further reading, open to all, featuring the Tomás Saraceno exhibition, Aria.
Consider virtually exploring the collections at The George Washington University Museum and The Textile Museum with the collections website launched last month currently showing over 5,000 pieces of handmade textile art from Middle Eastern, Asian, African, and indigenous American cultures spanning 5,000 years. Access the collections here: GW Museum and The Textile Museum Collections.
8. Podcasts are perfect on a walk, or while you plank indoors. The Magazine Antiques has one called Curious Objects.
9. Donate to museums. If you love a cultural institution, this is the time to send a gift of cash. Go online and look for GIVE, DONATE or similar buttons, or contact the institution for instructions. You can also purchase a membership.
10. Help artists. Either buy their available artwork, or look for fundraisers on the local level or beyond, such as Seattle Artists Relief Fund Amid COVID-19.
11. Buy a gift certificate for a gallery or auction purchase. This is not a common practice, but it's worth asking about as a very personal gift for a collector, college graduate, or newlyweds who can anticipate picking out something in person at a later date, or online.
13. Audiobooks to get lost in a tale. Amazon Audible has many in the art catagory, like This Strange Wilderness: The Life of John James Audubon. With kids, try The Fairy Ring: Or Elsie and Frances Fool the World, a true story about the creative photography of two children riding out a World War in the English countryside.
14. Visit online museum gift shops. If they're open and can't ship your order immediately, be patient. If the museum is closed, the online shop may be closed as well.
15. Make art. Yes, you have time to privately follow Bob Ross tutorials online or bust out colored pencils for Zen doodling. If you're a legit artist, this forced semi-sabbatical can be a period of creativity.
When purchasing artwork or other items online, keep in mind that shipping services could be impacted on a changing basis due to travel restrictions and other factors. The London and New York-based art logistics company ARTA notes on its March 13 blog, "It is extremely difficult for us to secure airfreight for international shipments globally, and prices are extremely high for that limited available space."
As usual, museums, galleries, auction houses, art-related businesses, PR firms and art fairs are invited to post their art news on ARTFIXdaily through our free ArtGuild membership (subject to approval). (Log-in upper right for members.) Check out ARTFIXdaily's ArtWire for the latest news from our ArtGuild.