Silver Linings: San Antonio’s arts community weighs in on the positive side effects of quarantine

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Courtesy of Elyse A. Gonzales
Elyse A. Gonzales, director of Ruby City
On both the professional and personal fronts I’ve found many reasons for feeling grateful and appreciative of this strange and scary moment.

As devastating as this year has been, I’m truly excited to have seen the larger, nationwide (even European) art community demand equity and representation for BIPOC artists and workers in our field. It’s been incredible to see the level of effort put forth by many institutions, large and small, working for a better cultural arts community. Addressing these hard conversations and questions will only add to our sector’s value among society at large because it means we’re reflecting widespread cultural conversations and remaining relevant. I know not everything will be perfect in 2021 but I have so much hope about what we are witnessing on a daily basis.

I’m also completely impressed and appreciative of how the board and staff at Ruby City welcomed me at this crazy moment. Our board members, Kathryn Kanjo, Isaac Julien and Laura Wright, continually demonstrate a deep, ethical commitment to doing what’s right for Ruby City, the staff, artists, even our larger arts community at this unprecedented time. I’m doubly impressed by how staff transitioned to a work-remote situation. It’s been wonderful to see this accomplished group of individuals, from senior to more junior staff, thinking/reacting in such a nimble and creative manner. Even our frontline staff have transitioned to helping us with digitizing and updating our collections database, as well as producing online, virtual content through their design, written, filmed and photographic contributions. Ruby City remains “accessible” and relevant through this meaningful online content.

I’m also deeply appreciative and awed by the whole of San Antonio’s cultural arts sector. I cold-called many curators and directors at different times asking to meet via Zoom or seeking input and EVERY single one of them responded with generosity and graciousness. I can’t name them all but Paula Owen, Rich Aste, Marise McDermott and Jon Hinojosa were among the first and most frequently contacted colleagues. I couldn’t be happier to be in such a creative and welcoming city.

On a personal note, I suppose I’m surprised by myself, that I didn’t go batty without a busy social schedule, something that I have seen as integral to my life. I’ve appreciated being able to spend time more quietly, with my thoughts, taking walks. This has helped make all the moments I spend with others, namely my husband and family, so much more meaningful. Even my happy hour Zoom moments with pals is precious and I feel much more connected to them. Don’t get me wrong, I am still dying to flit around town and all over the country to see art, meet artists/colleagues and see friends but I now see how more quiet time and these other means of connecting (Zoom, phone calls, even letters!) help engender a deep sense of fulfillment too. Finally, I guess I’m impressed by my amazing, loving husband. We moved, I started a new job, the pandemic hit, he spent time looking for and securing a job and we’ve been caring for our parents. Throughout it all we’ve been quarantining together and it’s great! I am so grateful to have such a caring, smart, responsible individual to share my days with throughout this time.

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