Independent artists who make a living through their creativity say making it through the pandemic was difficult, not just financially, but also mentally.
"It's been a roller coaster, an absolute roller coaster,” said Dan Neil Barnes. “A year and a half ago, I was in Florida doing art shows. I came home from the art shows, was preparing to go to Kentucky Craft Market here in the state and got a call at the last minute saying it was canceled.”
Barnes says that was the first of about 20 shows he planned to go to canceled in 2020 due to the pandemic. No shows all year meant no income for the Scott County glass artist.
“Mentally it was very difficult for me,” he said.
Barnes says he focused on developing new work and trying to keep a positive outlook. Now, a year later, that's a bit easier to do. Art shows are expected to return soon and he just finished installing his first big art piece since the pandemic began -- a hanging glass sculpture in Bluegrass Care Navigator's lobby in Lexington.
“I've been in contact with LexArts concerning possibly another big, large installation,” he said. “Hopefully, we keep our fingers crossed that this is over now and we're moving on.”
Henry County scratchboard artist Kathy Conroy is also looking forward to the arts coming back. After losing income and exposure for commissions from show cancellations, she took initiative this year and planned a solo exhibit.
“My show opened last week and I've already sold four pieces from that show and got a couple of commissions,” she said. “So, it's good. It's getting better.”
Conroy says looking ahead, she's already scheduled for some shows and classes she teaches.
“Teaching them about scratchboard... it just feels really good to get out there in the public and promote my artwork,” she said.
It’s a feeling Conroy and Barnes say they share with others in the art community.