How can art be exhibited in the time of Covid-19? Ask Watsonville artist Monica Galvan. Take it outdoors is her simple reply.
That’s part of the mission of Arte del Corazón, a Watsonville-based organization that has been staging open-air art shows around the city to showcase artists, from paintings and drawings, to jewelry, installations, photography, sculpture, knitting and more.
“I love art, and I continue to study art,” said Galvan, who earned a bachelor’s in art from UC Berkeley. “All this came together through talking with friends and finding a way to show people’s art.”
Teaming up with Vanessa Ledesma and others, Galvan said Arte del Corazón (art from the heart, translated to English) has already been staged four times between Romo Park on Main Street across from the City Plaza and at a vacant lot at 1997 Freedom Blvd.
Adding more steam to their movement, Galvan said she applied for and received a grant from the Arts Council Santa Cruz County. Now, Arte del Corazón typically welcomes around 20 artists from around the county—and beyond—at each show.
“I particularly wanted to bring Latino artists because I’ve found there just aren’t a lot of venues out there for us,” Galvan said. “Our numbers keep growing. Here at the Romo Park a lot of folks stop by on their way to or from the farmer’s market: It’s a good mix.”
Galvan, who is currently working on getting a master’s in fine art from San Jose State, said the exhibits take place every first Friday of the month at Romo Park and every third Saturday at 1997 Freedom Blvd. from 10am-4pm.
Ladesma, who creates ear rings and paintings, said she has enjoyed the exhibitions.
“I had the idea of sharing our shows with the First Friday that mostly happens in Santa Cruz,” Ladesma said. “Since I’ve been teaching at various schools through the Arts Council SPRECTRA and Mariposa programs these shows seemed like a natural fit. I’ve always liked this kind of partnership. This exhibit is another way of getting our art out there.”
Santa Cruz artist Evan Siegesmund, who excels in gallery art and murals, said he has taken part in Arte del Corazón’s shows since November.
“It’s a great way to connect outdoors where it’s safe,” he said. “It feels really good to do shows because, before Covid hit, I had so many shows lined up that were cancelled. Since I teach at H.A. Hyde School, being out here is just another way of connecting with this community, and I like that.”
The current exhibition series artists are reflecting is “For the Love of Plants.” That exhibition runs through March 20. Galvan said coming soon will be virtual art classes put on by participating artists. The family-oriented classes will include kits with supplies that will help people delve into art.
“I’ve been studying art for over 10 years, starting at Cabrillo College,” Galvan said. “We’re looking into more grants to keep this going. Participating artists pay a small fee to be in the show and that seems to work well.”
Watsonville City Councilman Lowell Hurst took time to wander through the 20 tables at a recent show that was running in tandem with the farmers’ market downtown. The tables and tents were widely spaced for Covid-19 safety reasons.
“I think it’s a great idea,” Hurst said. “Anything we can do to promote local art and help bring color and style to our community is a great thing.”