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Saturday, June 12, 2021

Greater Denton Arts Council fosters artistry during time of social distancing

Article Originally Published by Maria Lawson on North Texas Daily

Article Originally Published by Maria Lawson on North Texas Daily

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, artists in Denton have had to find creative ways to promote and implement their work in a time of social distancing. The Greater Denton Arts Council has been in the midst of the adjustments local artists have been making to keep the art scene in Denton lively.

“It’s affected people in different ways, depending on what part of the community you’re in,” said Jenny Bates, Greater Denton Arts Council exhibitions coordinator. “For a nonprofit like us, it’s limited our ability to host artists in our space. We’ve had a couple of shows that were moved online instead of being in person, so we have online exhibits, so we’ve had to change how we present artwork.”

The Greater Denton Arts Council is a nonprofit that advocates for local artists and strives to enhance the Denton art scene through classes, exhibitions and support for artists.

“We call ourselves a catalyst for creativity, advocacy and collaboration,” Bates said. “We are an over 50-year-old nonprofit located in Downtown Denton, that helps the arts in Denton. We’ll do things like host art exhibitions, teach art classes [and] our building, the Patterson Appleton Arts Center, is used to host meetings for other nonprofits and other art organizations in town.”

Local artists, such as Denton resident Katie Mont, have said they feel drained and anxious about their artwork due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s hard to keep creating when you are constantly facing bad news and don’t feel satisfied with your current state of life due to circumstances you can’t control,” Mont said. “My Instagram feed has definitely slowed, but I am making sure to take time to force myself to reflect and create new personal works mixed in with client work.”

Other artists have had to find creative ways to continue working, such as Denton artist and resident Kimberley Dietrich.

Courtesy Kimberly Dietrich

“I like to teach in-person paint parties so that is at a complete halt,” Dietrich said. “I have diversified by selling art kits [and] wood products with designs already etched in them for others to host their own paint parties, and I have started making videos for purchase. It has changed quite a bit.”

Artists in Denton have felt the repercussions of the pandemic as art spaces have closed and people have lost their jobs.

“The space for art shows we’ve seen has been significantly impacted,” Bates said. “Also for artists, and for a lot of my artist friends, if they had other jobs, that’s been hard for them to focus on their art when their other jobs were lost.”

Online shows, Bates said, provide a different experience from those that are in-person.

“It’s been a lot of shifting in perspective and how art is presented,” Bates said. “A lot of people have gone to online shows, which while they’re great [and] people will still see the art, it’s not the same as seeing it in person.”

Bates said it is important to support local artists to help them continue their craft and foster a sense of community in Denton.

“Local artists are invested in the communities they’re in,” Bates said. “They’re going to do a lot and care about their neighbor. If you buy a piece from a [Denton] artist, that money is going to stay in Denton, that money is going to help someone create another art piece or help them pay their rent on their studio or pay their health care. If you buy a piece from a large chain store like Hobby Lobby, that money’s just going back to a corporation.”

Dietrich said art gives individuals a platform to express themselves creatively.

”Art creates bridges between cultures and brings them together,” Dietrich said. “They create individual well-being. Without your local artists, you will lose a community who is not afraid to express their freedom or show others the therapy of art.”

Many local artists have created pieces which express their thoughts and feelings surrounding the pandemic.

“What I‘ve seen a lot is artists responding to COVID through sharing emotions or sharing the works they’ve created online,” Bates said. “They know that as an artist, they may not have a show coming up, so they have to build up their social media presence to keep their art on people’s minds.”

After the pandemic, Bates said people will likely be more appreciative of art exhibitions in person.

“I think now people are starting to realize there is a really strong connection between seeing a piece in person that you miss when you look at an online exhibition,” Bates said.

Artists will also likely opt to have more intent behind their work after the pandemic, Mont said.

“I think that people are going to create with more purpose,” Mont said. “This situation has brought a lot of very important problems to light. Creators are problem solvers and I feel it’s important for us to continue creating with intent and being loud about our beliefs.”

The Greater Denton Arts Council has been hosting Facebook Live art classes, where they teach small art projects or tips, on Wednesday and Thursday evenings at 6:15 p.m. The council also has its art exhibitions online at DentonArts.com.

“We’re sticking around and doing the best we can to make sure everybody knows that the Arts Council is still here and we’re supporting art in Denton,” Bates said.

Courtesy Katie Mont

Source: North Texas Daily

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