Four local artists are having a happier holiday this year thanks to the Public Arts Committee of the city of Sebastopol. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the committee created the COVID Artist Lottery to help support local artists during this difficult time.
“The public arts committee is always looking for things that they can do to help with public art in the community, and this seemed like a really difficult time for a lot of the artists,” said Public Arts Committee chair Jen Vertz. “So instead of going forward with some other projects we had planned, we decided to put some of our funding into helping out artists in need.”
Vertz earmarked $2,000 from the committee’s budget for the lottery and then went to the city council to ask for matching funds, which they got.
With $4,000 in hand, the committee initially planned to hold a lottery — “To basically pull names out of a hat,” Vertz said. But despite some low key PR work by the Sebastopol Center for the Arts, only four artists applied for the program so the committee decided just to split the $4,000 between them.
“We only had four entries, so each of the four people received $1,000,” Vertz said.
Four artists selected to receive the grant include collagist Patricia Marina, photographer Stella Monday, jewelry artist Shelley Rae and painter James Reynolds.
Like many artists, Reynolds had been turned down for federal COVID support during the epidemic. “So this means a lot to me,” he said.
Upon learning that she’d won one of the grants, Rae said, “It gives me hope that our city cares about the well-being of artists.”
Monday said, “This timing couldn’t be better; my 20-year old printer just died, and I had to spend an unexpected $1,000 on a new printer for my work. I’m not sure I’ve ever won anything before. This is so terrific, as I am embarking on a many year project to produce a coffee table book of my art.”
Rae’s work can be seen at the Sebastopol Gallery, where Reynolds also regularly shows. Vertz said the Public Arts Committee is working to create an exhibit of the artists’ work in the new year.
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