• mrbenja1

My Last Art Show Before The CoronaVirus Shutdown


Me talking shop and getting ready for the WAM! 2020 Art Show in San Pedro, CA.

Just last week, things seemed calm, but I felt excited to be hosting my first show for Uppish Media. “WAM 2020: A Women’s Appreciation Month Show” would feature fresh local artists and introduce San Pedro to a new vibe I wanted to develop. I was at home grabbing the last of my things: Moleskine guest book, Bose speaker, and of course, my Germ-X hand sanitizer. I headed to my car. On the way outside, I saw my neighbor. He mentioned that he would be traveling to Florida for a week. Good for him. I asked if he was nervous about Covid-19. He said “Heh, a little bit.” I wished him well.

Later on at the gallery, guests were streaming in, taking pictures, and studying all the artwork on the wall. Everyone was tantalized with the art we’d collected. While news of Coronavirus was spreading, the Long Beach and San Pedro areas hadn’t been hit yet. Even so, I requested that elbow bumps, fist bumps, and the Wakanda salute (or some other air greeting) be used. Handshakes and hugs were given out sparingly. Most people had fun with elbow bumps, and I think it even worked as a fun icebreaker. Someone was talking about a friend of a friend that knew somebody that tested positive in SoCal. Hmmm…mild phobias and denials were spreading faster than Covid-19.

In terms of news, the virus had gone viral.

A couple hours into the show, I noticed an overly friendly dog was licking a girl’s face and splattering her with dog saliva. I winced at the copious amounts of slob being administered but smiled at the fun they seemed to be having. In the back of my head, I wondered if dog slobber could pass the virus on. After regaining my art show pokerface, I went back to talking to our guests.

As the night went on, I was getting reports of how some of the galleries were closed and not as many people were out and about. We had a good flow of people happy to be out of the house, so I couldn’t get a good read on the general neighborhood sentiment.

The night finished and I thanked all the artists and people that came out. After it was all said and done, Uppish Media had a successful first venture into the San Pedro arts scene. But as I gathered my things and turned off the music, I couldn’t help but wonder how much better we could have done if the situation was different.

In the next couple days, I heard of the confirmed cases in Long Beach and witnessed panic take over the local toilet paper economy. I realized that if the show had happened just one week later, it’s likely it would have been cancelled.

If a show cancellation would have happened, I would have been pissed off, and my energy would have likely gone into fighting fear, panic, and ignorance online. Yes. Be prepared! But try to get a grip, be sensible, and don’t freak out with a year’s supply of toilet paper. (Maybe 8 months at max.)

A few days after the show, I saw my neighbor. He still hadn’t taken his trip to Florida. I didn’t ask him about it though.

We exchanged waves and went in our separate homes.

Stay good, everyone.

– Mr Benja –

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© 2021 - Benjamin Johnson aka Mr Benja

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