My piece “Excavation: Rivulet” won third place at TASIMJAE 2020

The global pandemic has been an irritation. I haven’t been able to visit my grandkids since January, and I haven’t seen live theater or visited a museum since February. And teaching classes online is way more time-consuming than one would think — although that is really self-inflicted as I find myself spending way too long creating visually brilliant presentations (they are pretty good) that contain more information than the students could possibly handle.

However, there are some benefits to the COVID-19 shutdown. I spent a lot of it drawing. I am writing a play, I had the time to take a play writing class and, most importantly, nobody is asking me to attend social events. 

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind social gatherings, it’s just that they wear me out. It is nice not to feel obligated to go places.

As time has gone on, some galleries have found ways to have art shows. I was part of the Dishman Art Museum’s virtual show in the summer, and I have “visited” some virtual exhibitions, but it’s not the same as looking at a picture in the flesh.

The Art Studio, Inc. traditionally holds TASIMJAE, its annual membership show, in April, but that was at the height of the shutdown, so it was postponed. After a series of virtual sales over the summer, The Art Studio decided to forge ahead and host the membership show this month. The opening was a virtual, but the show is a proper exhibition in a physical space.

I am a TASI tenant, but I have been working at home during the shutdown, choosing to stay as far away from people as possible, but I looked forward to entering the show. I have always believed that any artistic product needs to be shared. A painting must be seen, a play must be watched, a song must be heard, a novel or poem must be read. I was ready to have my work seen.

The second piece of mine accepted into TASIMJAE 2020

Art Studio openings are really social gatherings and I don’t really get to “see” an exhibition. But as a tenant, I have always enjoyed the luxury of walking through the gallery in solitude a few days after the opening and really getting to spend time with the work.

It is a lot harder to have an intimate connection with a show at a large gallery, but one of the perks of being a writer is being able to attend press previews, where there are fewer than 25 people in attendance, I get to take my time and there’s normally an accompanying gallery talk.

I have popped by The Studio a few times and TASIMJAE 2020 is a strong show. The quality of work is high. Juror Dennis Nance, curator at the Galveston Arts Center, chose 51 works by 41 artists from an entry pool of more than 120 pieces. I was fortunate enough to place third, which was a nice bonus.

It is nice to see the works in person. Virtual tours are fine but one doesn’t really get the nuance and subtleties in the works on a computer screen. And it is nice to spend time with the art, to have a dialogue with it.

I have joked that my misanthropy means I have not been affected by COVID like some others who miss human interaction, but, apparently, I am missing a sense of connectivity. Not for people, you understand. There are still far too many wandering around mask-less and who are way too close for comfort. It’s a connection with the arts that I’ve missed most. 

For a video of the virtual opening and gallery of included works in TASIMJAE 2020, click here.

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