Sunday, September 26

Pavement Picassos: the artists locked up showing work in their shop windows | Art and Design

IThis is not a good time for art lovers. The second closure has closed the galleries once again: I imagine portraits waiting in a bad mood at the National Gallery in London to be admired again; Van Gogh’s sunflowers fade even further, so this is not a good time for artists.

Artists on foot It is an initiative that aims to improve this state of affairs. It’s a simple idea for an art trail that began as a joint effort between printmaker and painter Rosha Nutt, and her art marketing consultant friend Holly Collier. Those who in normal times would be exhibiting in galleries or community spaces can now post their work on or around the windows of their homes for passersby to admire. Something like “how much does that little dog in the window cost?” Except it could be that sketch of picasso of your dachshund.

In March, just before the first confinement, Nutt and Collier curated an exhibition in London featuring Jeremy Deller and Ben Wilson. #FakeNews also had workshops and talks and it was the success of these that gave Nutt and Collier the confidence to establish Artists Walk.

“The lockdown was the catalyst,” Collier tells me. “Many artists have moved from studios to their homes. Exhibitions and events have been canceled. It is quite depressing to be an artist who cannot show his work. We wanted to do something that had positive action, a way to connect with the local community, and something fun to do. “

Until December 14, London artists working in any medium – painters, photographers, illustrators, filmmakers, potters and more – can pay £ 15 to have their location added to the ‘interactive map’ on the website, as well as a short biography. and links to the artists’ website and social media profiles, plus a custom poster.

Collier and Nutt fixed everything in seven weeks. “It’s been late at night, early in the morning and a lot of effort,” says Collier. They unsuccessfully applied for a grant from the Arts Council, but local collectives and businesses intervened. A real estate agent became a sponsor and organized a brochure delivery. Alexandra Palace – usually home to concerts and comedy performances – lent its support, including what amounts to a quasi-window of residence.

Collier tells me that there has been an enthusiastic response to the plan; 115 artists have signed up. So I set off, phone in hand, through North London (Artists Walk is designed for London, though creatives have signed up as far as wales).

About that “interactive map”. It is not that interactive. Keep deciding that I’m in Clerkenwell, four miles away. But I keep going, undeterred. Well, maybe a little.

Not part of Artists Walk, but keep up ... the 1930s sculpted panels by Arthur Ayres at Crouch End

Not part of Artists Walk, but keep up … the 1930s sculpted panels by Arthur Ayres at Crouch End Photograph: Hannah Jane Parkinson

Along the way, I take in the everyday details and aesthetic pleasures of the streets. The beautiful stained glass windows and rainbows painted by children that are their own art in stained glass; a set of bollards that someone has painted in bright colors. The 1930s sculpted panels by Arthur Ayres which make it one of my favorite buildings in the Crouch End area, even though it is now a branch of Barclays.

I get to the painter Sarah Barker Brownthe house, its large windows with oil paintings of two swimmers in bathing caps; a black and white portrait of a woman with wonderful cheekbones and an afro; a couple hugging. Light that bounces off pairs of agile legs. A self-portrait. Brown’s husband opens the door and through his garden I can see the artist in his studio.

Brown has won awards and exhibited in galleries in London. So how does the Artists Walk experience compare?

“Is something cute. Typically, he was involved in Crouch End Open Studios, “in which local artists open their homes and studios to exhibit and show to potential buyers,” but that was canceled this year. The locks have been difficult for me, especially in the beginning. I was kind of like, ‘What am I doing?’ What really got me out of that was that I painted a portrait of my friend, who is a nurse, in full protective gear. And that reconnected me. Now I enjoy painting for myself. There’s a little more space and time. “

There is a brilliant painting titled One last bath, held before Hampstead Ladies’ Pond closed again last month. Another of two women basking in the sun during the run-up to the hot, sticky summer when, for some, lazing outside was all there was to it.

On the spot ... The Caroline Bettaney exhibit.

On the spot … The Caroline Bettaney exhibit. Photography: Hannah Jane Parkinson

Brown has noticed that people stop and look, he says. As if to prove his point, a woman and her little daughter comment “They’re beautiful”) as they pass by. So Maureen harrison, another artist involved in the scheme appears.

“It’s a great idea and it gives people a different experience during their daily walks,” says Harrison, whose work focuses primarily on changing urban landscapes and city spaces, about the project. “It means that those who would be reluctant to set foot in a gallery can still see contemporary art, and others can get their fix.”

However, there are problems. Harrison has a problem with glare from his windows, which are high up. (One of Brown’s sons is in college and the other, being a teenager, “basically has the blinds closed all the time.” So she has done quite well, window wise). There is also the humid climate.

I pass another three screens. One is the mixed media artist’s home. Caroline bettaney whose high-dynamic-range photographs of Scottish lakes are contrasted with brilliant pop art (I later learned that this house is often used as a filming location). The second is the glass front of Lisa-Marie Pricestudy of. Price crushes rocks and stones to paint his abstract watercolors that focus on the environment. His works are the most at home.

And finally, when darkness approaches, Kamala Harris and Marcus Rashford greet me from the windows of Alison meekhome. Harris’s portrait, though partially obscured by the reflection of branches and smiling at the council parking lots and containers, is particularly striking and encouraging.

Portrait of Alison Meek from Kamala Harris.

Vice Presidential Material … Portrait of Kamala Harris by Alison Meek. Photography: Hannah Jane Parkinson

Is the artists walk a success? Yes. It’s bringing people together and reminding us of the arts we used to enjoy when zoom was just a verb. But it is also a rather disheartening interpretation of reality. It’s a bit like breaking up with someone – you’d rather not see them for a while if it’s not going to be like this.

Artwork like this is not made for this habitat and I kept getting distracted by the art, intentional or not, that surrounds us and that make adjustment. Not just those stained glass windows, but the bright flowers blooming from the front gardens and the front of a very beautifully patterned Oliver Bonas store. A heart carved out of wet concrete. Those colored bollards. If anything, the true achievement of Artists Walk is reminding us to slow down, look around (and look up), and appreciate the beauty of buildings and the creativity of the people around us constantly. No interactive map is required.

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