The Virtual Art Experience
The Clear Lake Arts Center gets creative
If the global pandemic has taught us anything throughout the past year, it is that we must adapt to survive. This is true both personally and professionally.
For businesses to stay afloat after the mandatory closures, they had to get creative. Thinking out of the box became a necessity for businesses of all types and sizes. With in-person interactions curtailed, businesses turned to the internet to find unique ways to remain connected to customers. Online shopping, delivery, and virtual networks became the lifeblood of commerce, generating revenue to keep businesses afloat despite the difficult economic environment. This seems doable when you have a tangible object to sell to the public, but what if you’re an art gallery? What if your mission is to ignite the creative spirit by engaging the diverse community and regional audience by providing opportunities and inspiration through visual, performing, and literary arts – and suddenly reaching out face-to-face is no longer possible?
These are the tribulations faced by the Clear Lake Arts Center for the past year: Finding ways to connect artists to the public. Keeping the arts at the forefront of our lives. Gone were the days of slowly perusing through the gallery, admiring artwork firsthand.
The Clear Lake Arts Center didn’t just have to think outside the box in 2020, they had to completely demolish the box. They scrapped their old way of shows and exhibits, and created a new path of enjoying the arts. They knew that in order to keep their organization alive, they had to find a way to get the arts to the people, instead of people coming in to enjoy the arts. And with some ingenuity and a spark of creativity, they invented a hybrid of virtual options and safe hands-on solutions.
This re-imagination of the Arts Center began with creativity packs offered to the public soon after the pandemic began. Coupled with a creativity prompt posted on their website and social media, these packs were incredibly successful, as well as a safe way for people to enjoy the arts. With their doors closed, the energy inside the Arts Center began to build as they began to plan their new way of operating. To keep their vision and mission alive, they offered exhibitions through virtual tours, artist talk videos, and online classes.
The Clear Lake Arts Center has now reopened but there are still a combination of virtual and in-person options available for everyone according to their interests. In place of the annual Art Sail, The Arts Center is hosting Mini Art Markets featuring a select group of artists showcasing their masterpieces on the streets around the Arts Center. The Mini Art Markets will be held June 12, July 10, and August 14. The Art Sail, is expected to return for Summer 2022.
Patrons can also enjoy the Sukup Lakeside Courtyard and Sculpture Garden as well as the ongoing virtual exhibits found on the Center’s website. To commemorate our time wading through the sea of uncharted waters, the Arts Center has created the Side by Side Project. Inspired by the iconic AIDS quilt of the 1980s, they will accept 10” x 10” quilt squares from across the state of Iowa. Participants can draw, paint, needlepoint, screen print, or even quilt their square to show life in Iowa during the pandemic. In the Spring of 2022, the squares will be sewn together to create quilts for display at the Arts Center, as well as other galleries across Iowa.