VERY MUCH AT HOME- Artist Vincent Crotty in his studio with the tools of his art
By Ed Forry
This terrible pandemic has caused havoc in everyone’s lives. People don’t go to the office anymore. Children don’t go to school. Six months in, many small businesses remain closed, too many have closed down, many gone forever.
Sunday Masses are populated by fewer and fewer folks, with social distancing the norm. At our church, every other pew is cordoned off and the faithful who can get there sit socially distanced, away from each other— brother from sister, parents from children, husband from wife. Persons of a certain age are advised by their pastor and church leadership that they are dispensed from the obligation of Sunday mass, and to exercise an abundance of caution about whether they go to church - or not.
One sector most devastated over this siege is the field of arts and artists. With venues shuttered, the musicians, dancers, singers, comics— performers of all sorts —are left without an audience, no place to perform, and no connected community of fellow artists to collaborate with. No theatre, no stage plays, no concerts, no venues, and alas, no Irish seisiuns.
Some have found ways to sustain a virtual connection, with regular internet-connected productions over Zoom, Facebook and the like. But because so many rely on the “gig economy,” performers are uniquely affected because, without regular employment, most were not eligible for the special government unemployment checks that benefited other workers
Boston Irish has a unique opportunity to be helpful. We have expanded our coverage of the arts, featuring writer Sean Smith’s comprehensive reporting of the Irish and Celtic arts scene here in Boston and across New England. Sean’s coverage or performers and his reviews of their recorded music is on display in each printed issue, and on our website BostonIrish.com.
And with this autumn issue, we’re pleased to display an original painting by the wonderful Cork-born artist Vincent Crotty, whom we have commissioned to create cover pieces around the general theme of Boston in a time of social distancing. His first piece was published in our summer issue, depicting an Irish seisiun 2020-style: a group of individual performers, all gathered together electronically, making their own virtual connections.
Vincent lives with his wife the dancer Kieran Jordan in a home in Lower Mills. And in the backyard he has developed his own studio where he does his creative work day in and day out. Recently I spoke by phone with Vincent, but he had little time to chat, as he was about to do a one-hour yoga class that morning, and later he would teach his own class in artistic technique to a student he’s never personally met.
Both events – his yoga and his art class- are virtual events, both carried out online. Since the pandemic settled in, Vincent the artist has had to become Vincent the technician, figuring out how to make Zoom video-casts work for him, one by one.
As the deadline for our issue approached, he told me his work would soon be completed. Early one Monday morning in mid-September, he went to Copley Square, set up his easel and captured the scene that graces this issue.
A careful view of the work will note that Vincent shows himself, in a nod to Norman Rockwell, all alone in the scene— the artist painting a portrait of a quiet, empty public square in the midst of a great pandemic.
He texted to me: “It’s dawn on Monday. Copley area. I’ll tweak it more today but maybe the changes will be small now. Thanks for Everything Ed! I feel like Norman Rockwell, without the talent.”
We have to disagree on that point. Vincent is a great talent and we’re pleased to showcase his latest work on our cover.
Ed Forry is the publisher of Boston Irish.