As art galleries across the country have locked their doors in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, one local gallery is trying to shed some light on the dark situation.
The Eaton Gallery, at 411 N. Center St. in downtown Bloomington, is currently showing “The Illuminated Pages of Ours.” Since art lovers can’t come into the gallery, owner Pamala Eaton has arranged the exhibition in the windows so it is visible to walkers, bicyclists or those who happen to drive by. Eleven artists are featured in the show, on view through April 20, that draws its inspiration from illuminated manuscripts.
Created from 1100 through 1600, illuminated manuscripts were handwritten books richly illustrated with colorful images, borders and initials that often incorporated precious metals, such as silver and gold. Eaton was so moved by viewing The Book of Kells and other illuminated manuscripts that she was inspired to invite area artists to create works that drew on illuminated manuscript iconography.
“It’s a narrative interpretation in their style, their words, their font, and their illustrations,” Eaton explained. “I wanted a mix of male and female artists. I also wanted a mix of styles, and I wanted a mix of personalities. Some normally work in wood, some are photographers, some painters. I thought I had a good mix of mediums and styles.”
Eaton invited 20 artists; 11 responded. And then fate intervened. After planning “The Illuminated Pages of Ours” over many months, the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent shelter-in-place order from the governor forced Eaton to make other plans.
“I made a vow to myself that I will do this show," she said. "I will come up with some kind of a concept to make this happen.”
Eaton decided to use the large front window of the gallery as her display space, with some pieces hung and some on easels. “It’s spring time and people will be outside walking and biking. I thought this was an opportunity for more people to actually see this exhibit than would if we had it inside the gallery,” she said.
The show can accommodate those driving along Center Street as well, said Eaton.
“There are mailboxes that are not too many feet from out window. So, as people are waiting in line to put their mail in the boxes, they’ll have an opportunity to look over their shoulder and see the exhibit in the gallery window.”
“You can find enrichment in your
own backyard, if you’re willing to take the time to notice it," she added. "We have so many talented artists in this community. We need to celebrate what those gifts are and be willing to share them. Even in this time of stress, it’s a good way to take your mind off of something and try to find some hope and faith and move forward.”
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