• Jme Foronda

Art Dates and the Pandemic

Wow, 2020 was A. WILD. RIDE. I mean, the pandemic, the elections, BLM movement, not to mention all the environmental crises that happened. But I think I want to write about something that affected me personally last year: the Covid-19 pandemic making meetups and art dates impossible.


We moved to the US in 2017, first to Hawaii, where I made a bunch of good art friends. Then we settled down in WA in 2018. It took me over a year to make my art circle of friends there, but I'm happy to report that I did find my tribe; the art buds I know I can hang out and do art with on a semi/regular basis. A couple of friends I even met up with weekly.


Anyway, the pandemic happened, and of course, our meetups stopped. Going out was discouraged and I was too nervous to come face to face with other people or go where people are (groceries, coffee shops, parks...). I was doing parking lot meetups with my mom friends, where we brought our cars to an empty parking lot and parked the backs of the cars facing each other and popped the back open and sat down 10ft away from each other to chat.


Aaaaand, of course, there was virtual chat rooms.


Midway through the pandemic, I guess that's when people started feeling the effects of not having engagement with friends, I started doing virtual art dates with friends from Hawaii. It started with a room done with a purpose: My friend Tiff and I were doing sketches for charity, and we set up a room to do practice sketches. It was GREAT FUN, we discovered. So we started doing it more often, just a bunch of friends, hanging out and chatting while we either had the camera off or with the camera pointed down to whatever artwork we were working on. Then it became a somewhat regular thing.


I like to think that I got more work done during those times we were chatting. I heard "zoom fatigue" was a thing, wherein people in Zoom meetings felt so exhausted after meetings. We figured out that was because 1) the camera is pointed towards your face the entire time and you feel like you need to look at other people the entire time, and 2) people need to fill silence with constant chatter. We got around that with our chats by turning off the camera while we chatted, and just work while doing voice calls essentially. While we still kinda needed to fill in the silence, it wasn't so bad as there was always someone in the room ready with a random, interesting story.


I have made a couple of new friends during this pandemic, which I think is a feat.


My friends in WA are a different story. Maybe the group isn't as chatty or maybe I can only handle one friend group at a time, but I seem to have a harder time interacting with them virtually. But I have done parking lot meetups with my friend, Danie, and it's been great just hanging out over coffee. I guess some friends are great with virtual meetups, some friends are better in-person.


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Plugging my friends because I love these guys and they're all great artists:


Hawaii art buds:

Jon J Murakami

Tiffany Peek

Trace Tsukioja

Ron Catiggay


WA art buds:

Danie Hadsall

Alice Wang

Givens Lam

Migley Ocampo


Thanks for keeping me sane!

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