DVC’s Online Art Gallery Depicts Local Viewpoints of Covid-19


DVC Art Gallery Flyer

Mackenzie McNemar, Staff

An interactive online art gallery that opened last month at Diablo Valley College, “In Interesting Times: A Look at Bay Area Artists’ Recent Work,” features seven Bay Area artists reflecting on the personal toll of the Covid-19 pandemic. Viewable at dvcartgallery.com, the show will stay open through April 9.

According to DVC Art Director Arthur King, who curated the show, the goal was to portray Covid-19 not in the way people have experienced it in the media, but to show it through the eyes of “people who are trying to keep their families together.” Arthur sought out work by Bay Area artists whose views of the pandemic could keep the show physically and emotionally close to Bay Area residents. 

Another coordinator of the online event and one of the featured artists, Jane Fisher, is an art professor at DVC who said her work focuses “on anything fleshy.” Fisher decided to portray the experience of Covid-19 through the image of street dogs in Bali, which she has been painting since her first trip to the island in 1995.

“The dogs are scavengers,” she said, which get by on their own instincts and rely on people to feed them, since they aren’t common household companions in that culture. Fisher, who owns a street dog that she once rescued from a Bali beach, said she felt special concern about dogs’ welfare on the island after tourism and incomes plummeted with the pandemic, impacting funding for groups that care for dogs. 

“Some of the artwork is beautiful and painterly,” said Arthur, describing the collective show, while “some of them are high concept.” Artists featured in “Interesting Times” include Fisher, James Gouldthorpe, Christy McDonald, Spike Milliken, Colleen Mullins, Jenny Sampson, and Nicole White.

While the show focuses on the dark subject of life during Covid-19, it also features art with elements of humor, according to Arthur.

The “Rolls & Tubes Collective,” with images by McDonald, Mullins, Sampson, and White, depicts whimsical black and white prints of toilet paper floating in the sky, including McDonald’s print of a dog wearing toilet paper as a wig. The prints were composed to represent the shortage of toilet paper that many people experienced as a problem through the early months of the pandemic.

Like many other aspects of life during lockdown, what would ordinarily have been a physical art gallery event has shifted online. Arthur explained that moving to a digital-only format enabled him to promote the gallery differently during the pandemic.

“We relied on networking through relationships and certainly the internet,” he said. As a result, people from across the globe are able to relate to local artists’ depiction of life impacted by Covid-19. 

Yet for Fisher, there is no comparison to seeing and sharing art together in the same physical space. ”All the artists I know are ready to go back to real galleries,” she said.