“It’s Saturday night. Or at least, I think it is,” I muttered to the dog, who blithely turned her head and walked away, still practicing social distancing from me, the guy who feeds …
“It’s Saturday night. Or at least, I think it is,” I muttered to the dog, who blithely turned her head and walked away, still practicing social distancing from me, the guy who feeds her. Sure enough, after checking my phone, my tablet and the old-fashioned calendar hanging on the wall, I deduced that Friday had indeed come and gone, much like any semblance of normalcy. As the days and weeks have passed, I seem to have lost all sense of time, place and decorum. I’ve even succumbed to the shaving-is-optional lifestyle, along with a disdain for wearing pants altogether. “Why bother?” I asked aloud to the now empty room. “If I’m gonna spend Saturday night at my desk watching another event on the internet, I’m pretty sure nobody will know that I’m only wearing underpants, black socks and sandals from the waist down.”
Now that the visual is burned into your brain forever (you’re welcome!), I can proceed. “Join us for online studio tours with two local artists: Phyllis Lehrer and Michelle Weinberg, both of whom are scheduled to have exhibits at the Delaware Valley Arts Alliance (DVAA)” the press release in the River Reporter announced. “With its online live-streaming series, DVAA Live @ Home, [we] look forward to connecting audiences during this period of social distancing with music, theatre, visual arts, film, poetry and more, on Facebook Live, each Saturday at 7 p.m. throughout May and June 2020.”
“Is this really the new normal?” I wondered, momentarily entertaining the thought that this other-worldly isolation might never come to an end. “I’m not sure I can do it, with or without pants.” As the computer booted up, I arranged sugar-free snacks in order of size, shape and color (can you say OCD?) and the screen before me flickered to life. DVAA Gallery Director Rocky Pinciotti’s smiling face lit up the screen, welcoming viewers who were filling the virtual audience and checking in, anxious to have a shared experience. By the look of things, Pinciotti got the why-bother-shaving memo, too.
“When artist Michelle Weinberg landed on the title ‘Field Trip Around the Room’ for her exhibition scheduled at the DVAA this July, she didn’t realize how true it would be,” Pinciotti said by way of introduction. “Michelle will show us drawings and paintings that feature expressive architectural spaces, language, vivid color, patterns [and] pictures within pictures—often the subject of the artist’s studio—live from her space in New York City.”
“Well, this is an electronic, futuristic way of connecting,” Weinberg said to the audience, as she turned her camera around, giving us an opportunity to catch a glimpse of the gorgeous panorama we could see from her large studio in downtown Manhattan. “This view of the river gives me joy on a daily basis,” Weinberg said with a smile. “Living and working near water seems to be [an integral] part of what I do.” The artist expounded on her process, the tools she uses to create her work and the images that populate a good portion of those drawings and paintings that are frequently described as “pictures within pictures.”
“This is pretty cool,” I said nonchalantly to the dog who was watching on her iPawed while eyeing the snacks on my desk. I joined others who were commenting in the chat room provided by the live-streaming service, appreciating the crew at the DVAA and their dedication to bringing art to us, even if we can’t go to them.
Painter, animator and new media artist Phyllis Bulkin Lehrer followed Weinberg. She gave us an intimate look at the work she creates in the huge space she shares with her husband during the summer months in Jeffersonville, New York. “This is the main studio, which was a creamery,” Lehrer informed as the camera panned the room. It’s a wonderful space and the perfect foil to New York City,” she said, extolling the virtues of the natural environment. “We feel very lucky to be here [in the Catskills] during this terrible crisis that the whole world is going through.
“My history as an artist encompasses many different materials,” Phyllis said, “that I combine to produce a myriad of two- and three-dimensional still and moving images. I work in drawing, painting and sculpture,” she continued. Pointing to several large-scale intricate ball-point drawings, Bulkin explained that she had been working with the “ubiquitous commonplace tool” for several years and that the process itself was laborious but “very meditative.”
“All of these images are improvised,” she said “but they also point to my observation of nature.”
Heady stuff (IMHO) and interesting, but I’m easily distracted and was pondering my next move as the studio tour drew to a close.
“Can I drive down to the dock without pants?” I wondered, and even the dog looked shocked. “What are you, crazy?” her look seemed to say, so I threw on some jeans before grabbing her leash and heading out the door. “I suppose you’re right, girl. Never know who we might run into from a distance, of course. After all,” I chirped as she jumped into the car. “We’re live in New York and it’s Saturday night.”
On Saturday, May 23 at 7 p.m. the next installment of the DVAA’s Live @ Home virtual series is titled “Happy Quarantined Birthday Jonathan Charles Fox: a virtual celebration and one-man show” featuring a rare peek into the lives of Fox and Dharma the Wonder Dog at home, streaming live from their “undisclosed” location. Visit @delawarevalleyarts
alliance on Facebook to join the event. For more information, call 845/252-7576. Will he wear pants? Tune in to find out.
Do you have a live-stream event to share? Let us know at least two weeks prior by emailing copyeditor@river