Art-coronavirus

Art can be healing, especially during times like these. Above, a sidewalk chalk portrait along the east end of Main Street. (Photo by Justin Criado/Telluride Daily Planet) 

The statewide edict came down yesterday: Stay home, unless you absolutely must go out.

Except for grocery shopping, medication retrievals and a chance for some exercise, public gatherings have ceased in order to help quell the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

How are local arts lovers coping? 

Rhonda Muckerman, artistic director of the Telluride Choral Society — whose annual SpringSing 2020 concert was to have taken place last weekend — has been passing the time indoors “with long conversations, good food and rest,” she said. 

In an uncertain moment, Muckerman remains focused on the future. 

“It’s frankly a wonderful time to evaluate where we are in our lives, what is most precious to us and to plan our next steps, because we will get through this,” she said. 

Her can-do spirit even came through in a song that “popped up” on Muckerman’s phone the other day: The Cranberries’ “Dreams.” 

The lyrics go, “‘Oh, my life is changing every day, in every possible way,’” Muckerman said. “It’s an optimistic song of love and possibility. And I think that is what we must be focused on at this point, because all good things are possible.”

In Ridgway, Mayor John Clark — a huge music fan — has been enjoying the free performances so many artists have been offering “on platforms like Instagram and YouTube,” he said. “I watched a wonderful little show by Mandolin Orange on the ’gram a few days ago. It was, like, 45 minutes of them just chatting and picking tunes. So sweet!”

You can watch concerts online these days, and make art with local creatives (via the Ah Haa School’s “Makers” videos each Tuesday and Thursday). Over the next few weeks, Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer is hosting a poetry discussion class through Weehawken Arts via Zoom. The textbook: “Healing the Divide: Poems of Kindness and Connection,” edited by James Crews. 

“I’ll surely be hosting more Zoom classes,” said Trommer, who continues to write a poem every day on her blog, ahundredfallingveils.com and recommends “a fabulous site” for writing prompts: adelekenny.blogspot.com

(“The idea of a global pandemic is the stuff of science fiction, or at least it ought to be,” writer Adele Kenny says by way of introduction to the prompts. “Therapists have been using writing to help their clients for a very long time, and it has been found to have measurable benefits in dealing with stress, depression, anxiety and grief.”) 

Along with Art Goodtimes, Trommer is the cofounder of the Talking Gourds Poetry Group, which meets monthly at the Telluride Arts HQ, across from the Wilkinson Public Library. As you might imagine, the Gourds’ most recent get-together was canceled, but Trommer is considering hosting a mid-April reading online (the theme, as you also might guess, is pandemic). Poetry is healing to everyone, and not necessarily because of the virus: Goodtimes is being treated for throat cancer and hopes people will post poems at his Caring Bridge site, which had nearly 2,000 “visits” this week (caringbridge.org/visit/artgoodtimes). 

So far, Trommer, a San Miguel County poet laureate and Fischer Poetry Prize winner, has written at least two pieces inspired by the pandemic, including one for the medical community and another “The Most Important Thing.”

She’s famous for her poetry performances, but at least so far, she hasn’t been able to recite either of these pieces out loud without crying. 

“Just two weeks ago, it was sufficient to say hello, good morning, good bye,” Trommer writes in “Most Important Thing.” 

“But now, in every text, every email, 

every phone call, I tell my friends 

and family how much I love them. 

I tell them life is better because 

they are in it. I say it with the urgency 

of a woman who knows she could die, 

who knows this communication could be our last  … 

How humbling to feel it undiluted, 

shining, like rocks in the desert after a rain, 

to know love as the most important thing, 

to remember this as I keep on living.”