Game changers: Visual artists adapt to the COVID era | Mike Solomon
January 9, 2021 - Marty Fugate, Correspondent
The art game has many unwritten rules. It’s a good thing that nobody wrote them down.
COVID-19 trashed the artistic rulebook as it has nearly everything else in contemporary life. Artists and visual arts institutions have been flying by the seat of their pants since the pandemic hit last year. While strange changes are far from over in the art game, here are some of the new ad hoc rules area artists and arts leaders have invented to keep playing. We’ll start with a few individual artists.
Mike Solomon: Honor the Heroes
The bulk of Mike Solomon’s work is nonrepresentational. But his latest series of colored pencil drawings holds a mirror to the real world.
“Scenes from the Pandemic” has a journalistic feel to it. The title tells you exactly what to expect. There are a few scenes of wounded journalists and protestors of all ethnic origins. But most of Solomon’s drawings celebrate Black doctors, nurses and front-line caregivers dealing with the collateral damage of the battle against COVID-19.
These heroes include Dr. James A Mahoney – a Brooklyn pulmonologist who pulled all-nighters fighting the virus, and then became a victim himself; Dr. Armen Henderson, a Miami internist who was handcuffed and detained by police outside his home; and Dr. Lisa Merritt, the founder and director of the Multicultural Health Institute in Sarasota.
“I made a connection with Lisa at the beginning of this year,” Solomon says. “She enlightened me a lot about what was going on in the African American community. Thanks to her, I became fascinated with the Black doctors and first responders serving on the front lines during the pandemic. Like all doctors, they risk their own lives to save the lives of others. But if these doctors take off their scrubs and walk outside the hospital – they’re taking a risk just because of the color of their skin. It takes an amazing amount of courage to do what they do. I wanted to find a way to honor it.”
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