Arts DEVO: These days

Art as scavenger hunt

1078 Gallery

Art will find a way. The doors of California’s art spaces are once again locked. COVID-19 case numbers in the state (including Butte County) have continued to rise unabated, so Gov. Gavin Newsom was forced to roll back previous openings. As of July 13, museums/galleries, dine-in restaurants, wineries and tasting rooms, movie theaters, family entertainment centers (arcades, bowling alleys, etc.), zoos and card rooms have been instructed to re-close.

Before the governor’s announcement, the first in-person show at the 1078 Gallery since mid-March was set to open this weekend. The Timestamp 2020 group exhibition will still debut Saturday (July 18), but show-goers will have to stay outside to view the pieces, which will be moved from the walls to the gallery’s front windows.

For the open-entry show, the 1078 put out a call for “art and ephemera” of our current times. The exhibit will be displayed as a kind of community message board that will serve as “documentation for future generations of people trying to understand what it was like to live in 2020.” The exhibit will run for an undetermined amount of time, and submissions will continue to be accepted after the opening. (Visit for instructions.)

The gallery provided a list of suggested items to consider for inclusion—which Arts DEVO has repurposed as instructions for a scavenger hunt through the interwebs and my own sheltering days for items that evoke the Year of the COVID for me.

“Black Lives Matter” by Mary Kay Benson

A protest sign:
In the wake of the killing of George Floyd, many beautiful, painful protest signs and other public expressions have been created by people fighting for meaningful change in a county that is might be starting to wake up to the realities of systematic racism. Anyone with Google can see examples here, there and pretty much everywhere. As I was typing this column, I received a lovingly assembled ornate example by Chico activist Mary Kay Benson that should be submitted for 1078’s show—a Black Lives Matter sign made of recycled metal, glass, ceramics and Swarovski crystals.

A newspaper clipping/printout:

You can do this. I can do this.

A recipe:
I’ve written about this “pound-cake-meets-cobbler” before. And, given that we are currently in the middle of stone-fruit season in Nor-Cal; the amazing Original Plum Torte is The New York Times’ most requested recipe for a damn good reason; and we are locked inside with our ovens and our feelings, it is a most appropriate way to add a little sweetness to the moment.

A poem:
Joy Harjo is the current Poet Laureate of the United States; the writer and performer of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation was asked by the Poetry Society of America to take part in its recent Reading in the Dark series. Writers were asked to reflect on the poems they return to in troubled times, and she chose “The Delight Song of Tsoai-talee” by Kiowa writer N. Scott Momaday—a poem that, she said, “centers us in the natural world, and declares a healing.” From the first stanza:

I am a feather on the bright sky

I am the blue horse that runs in the plain

I am the fish that rolls, shining, in the water

I am the shadow that follows a child

Harjo also had a poem of hers—“Perhaps the World Ends Here”—chosen for the project. As Dean Rader, the writer who selected it, said, “her work feels like home, and this poem is comfort food.” An excerpt:

The world begins at a kitchen table. No matter what, we must eat to live.

The gifts of earth are brought and prepared, set on the table. So it has been since creation, and it will go on.

We chase chickens or dogs away from it. Babies teethe at the corners. They scrape their knees under it.

It is here that children are given instructions on what it means to be human. We make men at it, we make women.

A wish:
To hold your face. Any one of your faces!

Something you drew:
Something Banksy drew: “If you don’t mask – you don’t get

The street artist took took to the London Underground in a Hazmat suit and infested one of the cars with rats in face coverings and a hopeful message from Chumbawumba.

Something you noticed:

The view from Guardians Trail, Upper Bidwell Park. (photo by Connie Cassidy)

Something you composed:
“Distortion,” performed mid-pandemic, outdoors at a responsible physical distance with my band Viking Skate Country. An appropriate burst of frustrated noise in response to isolation.

Something you wrote:
(From “Momma! I’m through,” Arts DEVO, May 30, 2020) “What comes next is to use the power of privilege and show up—spend your time, voice and money to help. … Use your platform of privilege to speak—via bullhorn, via social media or via weekly arts column—to injustice and address inequality that continues to fester in America. In other words, if you are a white person grateful for the comforts of your life, remember George Floyd crying out for the woman who pushed him into the world as a white cop pushed him out of it, and share some of your comfort with those who might not enjoy such privilege.”

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