During the COVID-19 pandemic, local artists were supported through a special initiative undertaken by the City of San Diego. The city purchased almost 100 works of art for the Civic Art Collection. The initiative was funded by a generous art lover and philanthropist.
An exhibition of this acquired artwork, titled SD PRACTICE, can now be viewed at the San Diego Art Institute in Balboa Park, and at Bread & Salt in Logan Heights.
I visited the San Diego Art Institute on Sunday to view their pieces. I noticed some of the artists are widely known, including Hugo Crosthwaite and Mario Torero.
Contemporary art is often provocative: subversive, angry, skeptical, iconoclastic. But many of the pieces I saw conveyed mostly a feeling of loneliness. Which I suppose isn’t surprising. They were created during a pandemic–a time of forced social isolation.
One canvas shows an elderly woman alone at a table set with dinner and cold smartphones. Other works–often with political messages–show people trapped alone behind borders or squares or lattices of drawn lines, or wearing masks, or concealed beneath sheets, or in shadow.
One artist’s tintypes were created with random people on the street. The artist and strangers pose together as if they are family. But the tintypes are very dim like faded dreams. And the momentary “families” weren’t real.
In one piece, an isolating smartphone has been dropped to one side, and two people lean into each other for simple human warmth.
As I walked through the gallery, one plastic chair made to appear gleaming and precious seemed inviting. But it was only one chair.