Social distancing doesn’t have to mean distance from art… Here are nine ways to bring the art to you during the coronavirus pandemic

Social distancing doesn’t have to mean distance from art… Here are nine ways to bring the art to you during the coronavirus pandemic
Social distancing and working from home? We've got the art covered. 'The Breakfast Tray,' c.1910 by Elizabeth Vaughn Okie Paxton.
Leading lights

Social distancing and self-isolation have become the new norm for people around the world as the fight to cull the spread of COVID-19, the novel coronavirus, continues. Mixed advice, the 24-hour news cycle, reports of panic buying, and rolling border closures have added to an air of anxiety around the state of the world at the moment.

Many countries and organizations are asking now, that people participate in social distancing as best they can and even self-isolate if they begin to feel sick. With this, businesses have closed offices having their employees work from home for sometimes undetermined periods of time. Museums have followed suit announcing closures left and right and art fairs are being postponed.

Being relatively confined to your home, though, can be frustrating and quite frankly, boring. You might be left wondering how you break the cycle of boredom and/or anxiety so that you continue to do your part in slowing the spread of COVID-19. To help, we’ve got a few ways to help keep your spirits up, add a little entertainment, and bring some of the art world to your home.

1) Talk Art, the podcast

If you’re one of the incredibly blessed people who are able to work and listen to podcasts at the same time, Talk Art is one to binge while you’re working, potentially alone, over the coming days and weeks. The podcasts is by actor and collector Russell Tovey and gallerist Robert Diament, who bonded over their mutual love for art and enjoyment of collecting, became friends, and started broadcasting their art conversations for the masses to tune into. They also bring in some exciting art world characters to have a chat and discuss their work. The podcasts is a fun way to learn more about collecting while making the workday go a little faster. If you get through this one, though, here are more art podcasts to try out.

2) This Long Century

Almost like Imgur, This Long Century compiles a plethora of distractions (so maybe set a timer so your 15-minute break doesn’t turn into 3 hours of discovering). The website is a compilation of contributions from artists, filmmakers, writers, and other artistic folks who give a glimpse into their creative world, including artworks mid-process, excerpts of writing, and miscellaneous ramblings. Begun in 2008, there’s a backlog of nearly 400 entries that will bring you closer to artists you know and love and those you haven’t yet discovered.

3) Art on the Screen

While we’ll all be struggling to find the motivation to get moving while staying in and around the house, you can always put that off a little longer with an art documentary or an art movie. Or, hey, maybe give that at-home workout a shot while you watch a documentary (of course, if you don’t move from the couch, we won’t tell!). Tim’s Vermeer, co-produced by Penn Jillette of Penn and Teller fame, follows an engineer’s journey to understand the camera obscura and Vermeer better while making his own modern duplicate of The Music Lesson. Give The Price of Everything, a 2018 art doc on what goes into making the biggest art sales, or Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable, a 2017 mockumentary by Damien Hirst, a go. Of course, you can always tune into Bob Ross for a blast from the past while also creating your own ‘happy trees’

Still from ‘Bob Ross: Beauty is Everywhere’ on Netflix.

4) Google Arts & Culture

This one might seem like a gimme but if you haven’t deep dived into what Google Arts & Culture has to offer, now’s the time to do it. Explore incredibly high-res photos of some of the best-known artworks here or use Street View to tour museums from around the world like the Rijksmuseum or the Museo Frida Kahlo. Better yet, give your TV a break from Netflix and cast the museums onto the big screen giving you an even more life-like experience from the comfort of your own living room.

5) The Viewing Rooms for Art Basel Hong Kong

Even before COVID-19 was declared to be a pandemic, it already forced many fairs and festivals to close, including Art Basel Hong Kong. As a result, though, Art Basel announced that the fair would still go on, virtually. Beginning March 20th, 231 of the fair’s exhibitors (90% of the original exhibitors list!) from around the world will showcase more than 2,000 artworks. As usual with the fair, the artworks will be on sale through the fair’s website and their app. Preview dates are VIP access and on March 18th and 19th while general viewing will be March 20th through the 25th.

6) If music is your thing…

Alex Ross, art critic for The New Yorker, VAN, and WKAR, a public radio platform from Michigan State University, have each created lists of upcoming concerts that are going to be available online for viewers and listeners to access remotely. They range from chamber orchestra concerts to single performers, and while you might miss the acoustics of a theatre, you can’t beat getting to tune in from the comfort of your own home.

7) Artist Channels

YouTube and Instagram are chock full of artists giving you access behind the curtain as to how their work is made or even teaching you how to create, yourself. Use the time in the morning or in the afternoon that would’ve usually been your commute to try your hand at drawing or watercolour. You can check out Art Critique’s own art lessons or click here for a few channels to get you started. Or, if you prefer not to be the artist, but instead watch them, check out CJ Hendry’s time lapses of her creating photorealistic works.

8) Dia Art Foundation Archives

In addition to being home to a number of amazing artworks by artists including Walter De Maria and Nancy Holt, the Dia Art Foundation has one impressive archive of events its held over the years. These archives boast artists talks, lectures, poetry, and works of performance art that you can tease through and enjoy – you won’t be sad you did.

9) AR at home, why not?

When KAWS was working on his recently released AR exhibition, he probably didn’t know how timely its start was going to be. EXPANDED HOLIDAY, now an ominous feeling name, kicked off just days ago with virtual exhibitions, called CAMPION (EXPANDED), in 11 cities around the world. The exhibition features his well-known grayscale Campion floating above iconic landscapes and cityscapes around the globe, but they vanish when you aren’t looking through your phone. In addition to this, KAWS is releasing two editions of the artwork called AT THIS TIME (EXPANDED), which can be bought through Acute Art, the VR and AR developer that KAWS worked with to create the exhibition. These edition give you a limited time edition of the VR project so that you can bring a little KAWS into your own life for a few days.

Whatever you do to fill the time during this period of social distancing and, in some cases, isolation, know you aren’t alone in it, even when things get tense.

For now, though, we’ll leave you with this video by CJ Hendry to help sooth any anxieties!