Surprisingly there have been some blessings from Covid-19. For one thing, I was able to re-evaluate my overly packed schedule. I had time to go out on my balcony every morning and sit in the sun and pray. It allowed me to collage for hours and spend lovely, lazy times with my husband.
However, one of the really sad things Covid-19 ended was my interactive collage exhibitions at the elegant Vinoy Hotel in downtown St Petersburg, Florida. Bella Unica Art Gallery, presented artists every week to show their work in the promenade lobby. Guests would view the works and visit with the artists on their way to fine dining or the pool. They were delighted with this extra attraction and many went home with art purchases. The hotel loved having the artists there.
I was thrilled to be invited several times to do an interactive evening with the Vinoy visitors. I set up a table with collage materials, gel medium, brushes and scissors. Usually, I brought paper pieces, cut up canvas, fabric and found objects. I had an easel ready with a large canvas and I would allow people to choose whatever element they were attracted to. Then I stepped back!
It was incredible how creative the visitors were. At first, they would be shy to try to collage and then they would love it! More often than not, we couldn’t get them to stop. I loved how excited they became with the results of their work. I could tell some of them were naturals and I encouraged them to make art at home. Hundreds of people got a chance to try collage at the Bella Unica Art evenings.
One particularly successful Vinoy guest collage was of the hotel itself. I only brought canvas pieces that were pinkish (the color of the hotel), green for landscape and blues for the sky. People walked by, one-by-one, and glued a piece on the canvas and built a really cool rendition of the Vinoy. It was later made into a postcard and sold at the Vinoy coffee shop.
The other photo is from the last exhibition seven months ago. It is unfinished of course, but promises to be wonderful. The remarkable thing is that I did not lead the guests. I would say, “You’re the Artist. Do it your way.” It made my heart sing to see them enjoying themselves so much.
As an aside, I set up similar collage experimentation tables at two of my shows at the Gilbert Chapel Gallery, in St. Petersburg. I remember a little girl who happened to be the daughter of my primary care doctor, intently collaging. I recently saw my doctor for a yearly checkup and she said that day has set her daughter on a serious path to be an artist! I can die happy now.
I had several other interactive shows planned, but then came the coronavirus. I realize it may be a long time before it’s safe for many people to be working on the same piece of art, at the same time. Heartbreaking. It’s a shame. However, it shows what beauty and harmony we can create when we work together!