The DART Board: 05.15.2020

By Peggy Roalf   Friday May 15, 2020

As we hit the end of Week Nine of SIP, I’ve noticed that a lot of people in the arts here in NYC are taking a deep breath—and a second look: At their close surroundings and companions; their objectives for getting through the hour, the day, or the week; and what the future beyond that week might hold. 

By now anyone who had never before given Zoom a second thought is pretty close to being a pro—not only in execution but also in how to use this rickety platform in creative ways. While we worry about security glitches, we somehow have faith that, under the glare of public outrage and media coverage, this will soon be resolved.

Faith surely forms the bedrock of the human condition today, whether that elusive word expresses concerns of the individual or the almighty—or a sliding scale of possibilities somewhere in between. With that in mind, I offer readers some ideas about navigation—a salad picked from my inbox this week.

From the top: Carl Morgenstern (1811-1893), Jungfrau, Mönch, and Eiger, courtesy The Morgan Library & Museum. This is one from a collection of images being offered by The Morgan for a virtual Zoom background. The text in the blog post reads, in part, “Is shelter in place making you feel like a hermit? Are you trying to tap into your spiritual side? Either way, consider shifting your locale (imaginatively and spiritually) to the Convent at Subiaco (by François-Antoine Léon Fleury [1804-1858], above). You may be feeling alone right now, but the nuns will always have your back! Learn more about [that] image here. See more objects  from our collections here...."

It continues, “Do you wish you could commune with nature more? Consider transporting yourself to the Alps. Let the cold mountain wind wake you up and give you the energy to face another day of home-school/work/family therapy. Also, if you want to keep the energizing mountain aesthetic alive, consider listening to this between Zoom calls.”

When I finally forced myself to get down with Zoom I had a lot to overcome. Not least was my concern that I would look alright and that my studio/office would too. My rescue was immediate through a few features in The New York Times that, point by point, instructed me on how to set up a great lighting scheme—using what I had on hand.

The main point was: Avoid having strong lighting behind you and have a reflector bouncing light directly onto your face. Luckily I did not have window light to contend with so it was a breeze.

I mounted a blank canvas on the wall in front of me and aimed an Ikea Tertial lamp at it; this was the big reflector. I beamed my second Tertial onto the white table in front of me, which became a bounce light while remaining off camera. Then all I had to do was to raise my laptop to eye level. Here’s my setup (above); it's amazing that this mess actually resulted in a very good Zoom image: if you zoom in [!] to my laptop screen you’ll see. If I can do this, anyone can. Tom Ford’s 3-point Master Class. Does and Dont’s. Advanced practice.

In the category of Creative Diversion—or how to remain positive and in touch with the world beyond my window—I discovered that the currently shuttered Jason McCoy Gallery, in the Fuller Building on East 57th Street, is reaching out to artists everywhere with a weekly online Drawing Challenge. Each Challenge involves submitting an image that responds to a text, as well as a text that has been an inspiration to the submitter.

Drawing Challenge V, last week, was based on words by Gertrude Stein relating how she dealt with her anxiety during World War II. It perfectly mirrors how I have been doing just that during SIP, so I submitted this drawing (right) from my Covid Journal series. Yep, it was selected. Yep, that put me on the Moon. Yep, I’m still there! Drawing Challenge VI  is now on, with the text that I submitted—due Sunday night. So get out your paints or Sharpies or whatever and make New York or Wherever beautiful again. Submit to

For Frieze New York Online [closing tonight], South African artist William Kentridge, who is represented here by Marian Goodman Gallery, spoke to ArtNews about how the pandemic and lockdown has affected his creative life.

It reads, in part, “In local terms in South Africa it’s been very interesting how it’s pushed us back into a kind of apartheid-era world of the separation of whites in privileged enclaves—with their houses and gardens and space to move about—and the majority of the black population in townships and informal settlements policed by soldiers keeping the lockdown rules enforced.

'It's a strange South African moment of pushing us back many years. It’s a strange pain also in the sense that we have a government that is anxious about the very people who voted for it.” The entire interview is here.  William Kentridge, Yes I Know the New Poem, 2020; courtesy Marian Goodman Gallery 

I also noticed that LA’s Hosfelt Gallery has started its online HG Magazine, featuring gallery artists in studio visits. While the gallery has always provided plenty of information on their artists’ pages, they have recently begun presenting video Studio Visits. Here’s one with Bernard Lokai 

Hauser & Wirth is currently running its new Online Exhibition, Homegrown, celebrating the artists who staff their global operations. All proceeds will go directly to the artists, with an additional 10% going to the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund for the World Health Organization. Info


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