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From Tokyo, where the wearing of surgical masks is common even without threat of epidemic, respected ballpointer Lennie Mace has fled to the remote and relatively safe environs of his Japanese Alps 'Castle' (as he did in the wake of Japan's 2011 earthquake, tsunami and subsequent nuclear scare). ''I'm lucky my career allows me the freedom to clear my schedule and 'get outta Dodge' quickly if and when necessary.'' The ongoing construction of his 'Castle', Mace tells us, will keep him busy, and creative. Castle 'blueprints' are always sketched in ballpoint, some of which he has begun ''embellishing into original artworks in their own right'' for future exhibition.
Mace reports that Tokyo's March sumo tournament is taking place ''telecast-only'', live from an empty arena (pictured), an option which is also being considered for the city's upcoming 2020 Summer Olympic Games (July) if not cancelled altogether.
Mace related to us a recent dream wherein fireflies seemed to hold a cure for what in the dream was an unidentified pandemic. He not-so-jokingly advised me to spread the word: ''Fireflies ! Synthesize !'' Always good at mixing heart and humor, Mace added that if it were firefly season in Japan he'd be adding them to his food ''just in case'', and pondered whether a whiff-a-day of ballpoint ink might keep COVID-19 at bay for ballpointers of the world. Weirder things have happened but… don't try these at home !・
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Quarantine is another scary word. Italy and Spain
are under national lock-down and more cities and
countries are poised to follow suit. Many have
already enacted restrictions and/or travel bans.
While quarantine poses inconveniences for most
of the population, luckily 'self-isolation' is something to which most artists are accustomed. It's an ideal period to get-things-done, so isolation could even be considered a necessity in the creation of fine art. Some might consider the situation therapeutic, perhaps even a blessing in disguise for the easily distracted.
Italy's ballpointers in the country's northern cities were among the first to face quarantine conditions head-on. In Milan, Paolo Amico's Light Events exhibition was set to open just as the lock-down went into effect, and subsequently cancelled because of it. ''At this moment we are forced to stay at home,'' he reports. ''The media broadcasts reassuring news, but the mood is not the best. I find it difficult to concentrate on art. Anyway I try to get busy.'' Amico, whose vibrantly-colored ballpoint artwork will soon be featured in The Ballpointer, tells us this experience will surely show in his work. ''I'm digging in my mind, I want to portray every thought.''
In nearby Genoa, Alberto Repetti is dealing with similar circumstances. An
upcoming exhibition of Repetti's artwork at the city's Palazzo Ducale has been
canceled and the artist tells us he and his family ''have been home for days''. The
school where Repetti teaches has been closed, and even though he now finds
himself in his studio with plenty of time he ''gets discouraged and can't find the
Both Italian artists nonetheless speak of unity during trying times, for the greater
good, and shared some 'quarantine art ' with The Ballpointer (pictured).
Artwork, above-left slideshow : 'quarantine art' by Paolo Amico, Italy, work-in-progress; Crowds at London's Affordable Art Fair Battersea, held as scheduled. Above : Tokyo's telecast-only sumo tournament. Below : quarantiine art by Alberto Repetti, About Landscape (Thought #5).
All art & images March 2020 © respective artists.
BALLPOINTBRIEF by R. Bell posted March 21, 2020
PEN demic Sheltering-In-Place PART 1
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Pandemic is a scary word but here we are in the midst of just such a scare, facing an equal-opportunity killer virus which sees neither race, gender nor economic status, with 9,000-and-counting deaths to its credit.
International travel was among the initial and obvious risk factors, and public safety precautions were swiftly enacted. Gatherings of any kind soon became high risk, and The Ballpointer began receiving announcements of opening receptions—and exhibitions altogether—being cancelled as 'social distancing' took effect.
Prior to governmental decree some event organizers voluntarily postponed or cancelled events, but not all. In Britain, where (as of this writing) deciding for oneself was still an option, the Affordable Art Fair in Battersea, London, opened March 10th and ran for five days as scheduled. Brit ballpointer James Mylne participated, debuting six new pieces from his On Lux Bags series at the event. Mylne reported to The Ballpointer that opening day was ''surprisingly packed,'' and joked that ''free booze probably cuts through the general panic'', but noticed a ''quieter'' atmosphere in the latter days of the event.
Elsewhere in the world, organizers have had little choice or none at all. A group exhibition set to open under such inopportune circumstances in Hong Kong featuring artwork by architect and ballpointer Pete Ross was postponed as concern heightened about the spread of the virus in the city. Ross was not only a scheduled participant but also a co-owner of the venue, Hong Kong Art Collective gallery, which took the opportunity and made the effort to instead present the show as a 'virtual exhibition' on their website.