A few months ago, when it seemed like we were about to finally turn a corner on the whole COVID-19 thing, Clark County put out a public call for art reflecting on the pandemic experience. The resulting show, Emotional Weather at Winchester-Dondero Cultural Center Art Gallery, digs into the cross-current of emotions we’ve all felt: fear, frustration, boredom, isolation and, yes, hope. These feelings are expressed through a kaleidoscope of media, including paint, ceramics, charcoal, ink, collage, colored pencil and embroidery.
In Grace Letourneau’s acrylic painting “Slipping,” which won Best in Show, a woman is fused with an hourglass. Glowing sand pours from her heart, and she clutches at her chest in a futile attempt to stem the flow of time. Who has not felt such anguish during the past year and a half?
In a watercolor illustration by JW Caldwell, a surfer paddles up a giant wave. The text on the painting reads: “The struggle has become strangely comforting.” It’s yet another sentiment we’ve surely all felt.
In Holly Lay’s “Quarantine Zine,” a woman waters a houseplant. It’s a pared-down illustration on a flat purple background, and it seems to reflect the way quarantine removed everything from our lives apart from the most basic domestic activities.
“I hope viewers see the resilience of the Las Vegas art community in Emotional Weather,” says show juror Alisha
Kerlin, who also works as the Marjorie Barrick Museum’s executive director. “I also hope they feel the range of emotions displayed in the show.”
Clark County’s first juried show since the shutdown drew nearly 140 entries; 43 are included in Emotional Weather. It was curated by Trevor Ganske, who works in Clark County’s Public Art Office.
“I was surprised that several themes arose within the entries,” Kerlin says. “There was humor—even the self-deprecating kind.” Kerlin grouped the art by theme, such as time, separation, distance and screens, avatars, boredom, interiors, text, mood and odd portraits of emotional states. Together, the pieces form a three-dimensional portrait of our collective crisis and response. “I loved that there was a spirit to the show,” Kerlin says.
One of the juror’s own works is on display, “right by the door, kinda greeting you as you walk in,” Kerlin says. Titled “More Emotional Weather,” the piece consists of paint on junk mail with rainbow stickers, the title text in pink lettering over an abstract purple storm. It serves as a highly empathetic forecast of what might lie ahead.
Sometimes that future can be cozy, and sometimes it can offer emotional breakthroughs, reflected in the exhibit’s two honorable mention recipients. In the oil painting “Mornings,” Daisy Sanchez depicts a family watching the Spanish news together during quarantine. Puzzles, the ultimate lockdown accessory, are stacked on the TV stand. Kristin Hough’s “You Realize That You Are Perfect” features an abstracted mountain landscape with the title text bannered across the image. And if this crazy period has taught us anything, let it be that.
Additional artists include Adriana Chavez, Matthew Couper, Rachel Elkins, Glynn Galloway, Nancy Good, Martha Hall, Brian Henry, Jennifer Henry, Jeannie Hua, Matthew Katigbak, Judith Klausner, Christopher Mempin, Laura Meyer, Doris Morgan Rueda, Beverly Neas, Melissa Placido, Heidi Rider, Mandolyn Rosen, JK Russ, Chad Scott, DK Sole, DBA Studios, Sonny Tsoi & Yej.
Emotional Weather Through October 8; Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-8 p.m.; free. Winchester-Dondero Cultural Center Art Gallery, 702-455-8685.
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