Northwest Arkansas' art collective Art Ventures is opening a new exhibit called "Synchrony" this month -- the sixth it has launched since the pandemic shut public events down in mid-March. While some exhibits have been virtual -- accessed from the safety of one's own home -- some, including the newest, have been in person, using stringent safety guidelines to prevent the spread of covid-19. The organization's president, Sharon Killian, says she and her fellow artists believe that, given the stressors of the current moment, art is more important than ever.
"I believe that many of us who are trying to stay safe, not doing an awful lot of outings, are making their way to view art," says Killian. "I have always loved to have a gallery to myself or with a small group to experience at my own pace, without having to move out of the way in polite intervals for someone else to get a turn. What a luxury! So I am thrilled that we can be cautious enough by keeping ourselves well, wearing masks, washing our hands and registering for our own time in the gallery. Art Ventures is pleased to be able to gift this time to the community."
While Art Ventures has perfected the process of producing online art content, Killian says nothing compares to seeing the work in person.
"Virtual exhibitions are just fabulous, especially when we are successful at infusing an exquisite aesthetic that aligns with the work," she notes. "But being able to hug the art with your eyes extends your ability to be patient, I believe. To let you know that this much is possible -- and near your home -- adds hope back into the equation."
"Synchrony," says the organization's website, "reflects our divergent patterns of life experience and imagination that create passionate culture in spite of uncertainty, discord, pain and loss." Killian says the subject matter was inspired by the incredibly diverse artists living and working in Northwest Arkansas.
"I thought about the artists and the kind of work I wanted to exhibit, some of a variety of cultures from people who are digging deep to do what they want in response to life -- some of them right now and others, like Alice Andrews, who has been digging deep for many years," says Killian. "Ballet Folklorico Herencia de Mexico shares many significant cultures in this exhibit, and I hope individuals will come through to see themselves in these beautiful works from regions with which they may be familiar. Everyone in the show gives a piece of themselves. Pepoglyphs by Pepo Toledo are in the house, and we all get to read what we want. Juliana Duque and Lourdes Valverde offer a treatise about where they rest emotionally and intellectually in the studio. In thinking about how we are all experiencing a certain amount of uncertainty, discord, pain and loss based upon the framework of the pandemic, and the killing of innocents, all of the differences in creative expression would be the 'glue' or the connecting factor for the show."
The organization's goal of inclusion and promotion of the Northwest Arkansas area's diverse population is reflected in the show's notes, which, Killian says, have been translated into English, Spanish and Marshallese so that "anyone with these primary languages would feel immediately at home."
The exhibit offers a wide variety of artistic expression for viewers to take in -- for example, Araceli Lopez, founder and director of Ballet Folklorico Henrencia de Mexico, provided traditional costumes from six regions in Mexico and artist Suzannah Schreckhise created an artistic tribute to Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Killian's own work exhibited at the event is intimate and personal.
"I thought my pieces, 'Blazing Sunset,' 'The Gathering' and 'You're Killing Me,' say so much about the frameworks I, and Black people generally, live in all of our lives and how that never changes," Killian says. "How the same me that is in awe of sunsets is also livid about being vulnerable all of the time because of our beautiful skin."
One reason Art Ventures' members have not let the pandemic slow them down is that they are attuned to the difference art can make in a community, especially in the most trying of times, says Killian.
"I have been doing work for Art Ventures for art and artists because I believe they are essential to making a good life for everyone. I have been working on another mural and find myself doing a lot of the drawing and designing. It is the thing, besides the support of my husband and a few good people, that has remediated the stress from an overly hectic schedule."
WHEN — 3-8 p.m. Wednesday-Friday and 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday through Oct. 31
WHERE — Art Ventures at 101 W. Johnson Ave. in Springdale
COST — Free
INFO — artventures-nwa.org
FYI — Due to health guidelines regarding COVID-19, exhibit capacity will be capped at 10 every 30 minutes. All Art Ventures exhibition guests should conduct self-screening before arriving at the exhibition for any symptoms of possible covid-19. All visitors must maintain at least 6 feet separation from other individuals not within the same household, including while waiting in line to enter the building. Visitors are required to wear face masks or facial shields while inside the venue (may be removed temporarily for identification and to drink/eat).