There are many reasons art is essential. During a time of crisis and isolation, art brings us joy. It helps us express what we’re feeling. Art can transport us to other places when we are unable to go anywhere. 

As the artistic director of the Upside Down Art Gallery since the beginning of 2019, I never could have predicted a transition from physical gallery walls to a virtual presentation of art, and yet it has never been more important. I created the “Art is Essential” virtual show to feature inspiration born out of isolation. As you take a walk through some highlights from that show below, be encouraged that where humans see only frustration, God turns their eyes to creation. 

Sasha Netchaev

“Being in isolation is a rather funny dichotomy. On the one hand, our experiences in the outside world that once fueled our artistry have been taken away from us. Yet—simultaneously—we now have all the time in the world to be introspective and cherish details we never really paid attention to before.”

Sasha Netchaev - Photograph

Sasha Netchaev - Photograph

“The silver lining of this entire experience is being able to really slow down and marinate in each moment—noticing how the natural light shifts over objects and spaces at different times of the day, altering the mood, creating a new sense of beauty, dimension, depth, and rich-colored hues. I love being able to shape natural light sources to isolate subjects in compositions and bring attention to everyday moments that we often take for granted.”

Sasha Netchaev - Photograph

Sasha Netchaev - Photograph

 

Victor Atkins

“Covidica” is a large 6’x8’ painting, done by hand in acrylic paint on canvas. “I painted it as my reaction - as well as my response - to what’s happening in the world today.”

Victor Atkins - Painting

“In ‘Covidica,’ I use brilliant color and geometric structures to form confounding illusions. There’s a tension of space and form as a metaphor of the temporal, while also giving the viewer an invitation to the infinite that waits beyond. I live in Pasadena, which is a truly beautiful place, but it is my contention that perhaps there exists a real and greater beauty and place of eternal peace. I can think of no better moment than now to explore this paradigm.”

 

Shelby Montelongo

“There is something significant about people in isolation expressing their deepest opinions, while at the same time doing the bare minimum. Productivity runs a broad spectrum. Someone might bake ten loaves of banana bread in a week, but it’s out of a frenzy of restlessness. For me, most of my days have been spent in a fog. Art—the very breath in my lungs—has become the last thing on my mind. I have been living the bare minimum. But one day, I gathered every ounce of energy I had and photographed these self-portraits. They remind me of the beauty and creativity that fight to exist and then emerge in a broken world. When the voice of your anxiety grows from a small whisper into incessant shouting, you realize that art is for you. It serves as an escape, but later becomes an act of recovery. May we all find healing after this time of COVID-19.”

Shelby Montelongo – Photograph

Shelby Montelongo – Photograph

Shelby Montelongo – Photograph

 

Upside Down is a donation-based coffee shop, art gallery, and events space in Westwood Village, owned and operated by Jews for Jesus. The entire “Art is Essential” virtual show can be viewed at upsidedown.com/art-is-essential

View the full exhibit ›