While bars and eateries are opening their doors, art institutions are being more cautious. The Mobile Museum of Art (4850 Museum Drive) is currently closed, but that is due to change at any time.
“If we’re told to open tomorrow, then we will. We’re fully prepared with social distancing and the whole bit and doing what we can in that department, but we’re really just waiting on word from the city,” Public Relations Manager Glenn Robertson said.
Director Deborah Velders said in an email she is “hoping for late June” as a reopening date.
The museum would be an easier course to navigate regarding any virus concerns. It’s filled with big rooms where social distancing is easy. It’s rarely crowded, other than during special events like exhibition openings.
According to Robertson, signage will be employed reminding patrons to provide six-plus feet of space to others. Staff will wear masks and have their temperatures taken regularly. The public will also have their temperatures taken.
“We’re recommending people wear masks, but we can’t force them to. We’re limiting groups to 10 people and we’re not doing any group tours or field trips or anything like that. If it’s a family group that comes in that’s 10 people, we just kind of have to let them in, but any more than that we’re going to try to limit,” Robertson said.
The museum will also have hand sanitizing stations in place. They stocked up on the precious alcohol-based gel as an integral part of the “For Children” exhibit. That exhibit is naturally closed — along with the tight confines of the Reflectorama — so the sanitizer is being re-stationed for the general facility.
Since the education wing and theater are closed, along with summer art camp, alternative plans were made.
“We’ll probably do curbside pickup or art activities. We may offer some adult summer camps if we can get them spread out enough and it will be limited to six to 10 people,” Robertson said.
An exhibit by internationally famous photographer Gordon Parks with focus on historic Mobile has been pushed back to January. If medical officials’ speculation about a fall-winter resurgence in COVID-19 manifests, an opening reception would be difficult. The postponement was already an accommodation for the pandemic.
“We’re not going to get field trips to it anyways in the fall. We just want to try to give it its due,” Robertson said.
In one sense, the shutdown has been timely. Robertson and her husband, a Baldwin County teacher, welcomed their first child in early January, just ahead of the coronavirus’s U.S. confirmation. As her maternity leave passed, the stay-at-home orders kicked in.
“I kind of feel like I’ve been quarantined for four months,” Robertson said, laughing. “It’s good that [my husband] has gotten to spend more time with [our son].”
She’s made occasional trips to the museum but mostly it’s been family time all spring.
“I think we’re kind of lucky because he’s at a good age where he sleeps most of the day and when he’s awake he’s pretty happy,” Robertson said.
Was that description for son or husband? Yes.
The Gulf Coast Ethnic and Heritage Jazz Festival (GCEHJF) has decided to soldier on with their midsummer event, scheduled for July 27 through Aug. 2. That includes the Marcus Johnson Jazz Camp, An Evening of Poetry and their annual concert, the last two of which might be livestreamed. Locations might change from previous years to accommodate COVID-19 concerns.
That means the annual GCEHJF poster contest has returned. Aspiring artists can submit an original, unpublished, two-dimensional work depicting a jazz theme. It needs to measure 24 by 18 inches and include “Gulf Coast Ethnic and Heritage Jazz Festival, Mobile, Alabama, 22 Years of Jazz, 1998–2020.”
Prize is $300.
Entries must include name, address and phone number. Deadline is May 30. Entries may be submitted digitally to ruffinatlaw@aolcom or at mobilearts.org.
Regardless of how spotty quarantine efforts might be in Baldwin County currently, Eastern Shore Art Center (ESAC) is participating in a community effort to create a “Quarantine Quilt.” Widespread participation is the goal.
Use a bandana, old shirt, fabric swatch or something crocheted or knitted as a 12-by-12-inch square. There is also a bin at ESAC’s front door with swatches available. Painted, stamped, embroidered or collaged embellishment is welcome — just leave a one-inch border for joining pieces together.
Feel free to send a story note with the piece and mail it to: ESAC, Attn: Quarantine Quilt, 401 Oak Ave., Fairhope, AL 36532. All pieces should be received by May 28.
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