Roberta “Nina” Hassele, executive director of Contemporary Art Month
As you know, Contemporary Art month ended midway through with Second Saturday as the last official [in-person] art happening that month as we soon walked into our first shutdown. I was devastated as artists called me asking, “What do we do? Do we have our openings? Do we take down our shows?” It was heartbreaking to say, “Yes, we have to hit pause,” encouraging them to go virtual where and when possible. Since March I have purchased — all online or through photos shared — 58 pieces of art from 18 artists. With the exception of four living in Austin, Houston, Harlingen and Chicago, 14 artists live in San Antonio. I have added to my collection pottery, textiles, photography, paintings, ceramics, prints, fiber art, watercolor and [have] a new-found passion for sculptors. I don’t have a lot of money but when I can I buy art over clothes or shoes, sometimes even putting off much-needed dental work or getting my knee injections that cost me a fortune. Art, as you know, makes me happy.
Today I was excited to have two pieces of art purchased online from local artists hand-delivered by both on my porch. I have always seen art as a form of healing since I was a child and stumbled into the Brooklyn Museum on a PS 109 school trip. I believe art builds stronger communities, it allows us not to just understand ourselves but to understand each other on a deeper level. Though the COVID-19 crisis has severely impacted the artistic community, the spirit of human connection and upliftment through the arts remains. I see our San Antonio art community finding creative ways to keep people connected during a pandemic that keeps us apart, swapping real-time space for virtual ones, sharing through social media, by-appointment-only [visits], murals and public art. I tell people If you are able, donate to the arts — no amount is too small. If you are spending time looking at your empty walls during quarantine, this is a great time to commission an artist, participate in an online art class, buy work directly from an artist online, gift art, attend exhibits and openings online, get in your car, bike or walk and enjoy all of our new and old public art and murals. What we need is a bottom-up, all-hands-on-deck effort to save our artistic and creative community, and we need it now.