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Photojournalism

John Sanchez: when my art took a back seat, family and community got me through the pandemic

Granada Fointain
Breathe
Early Sunday Evening
El Amanecer
I 75 Sunrise
In Search of French Broad Sweets
Merry Round Night
Pizza on a Wet Evening
The Grind Project Fort Lauderdale Florida
Two Ferries Williamsburg Brooklyn
Uber Drivers Holding Court at the Airport Lot
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The ongoing pandemic, in many ways, had caused a “reset” of my career. Being a working artist with a family and all its responsibilities comes with many pressures: making ends meet is just one small part, and I can say that I have been more than lucky over the years that many have wanted to obtain my work. 

Before 2020, I managed my finances and juggled my responsibilities well enough. Still, the pressure of making sales and being an effective parent and husband has been mounting for a long time. 

When the pandemic began, it forced me to take a look at the trajectory I was on. I took a break from creating and dived into a “normal” life. I began to work in a totally different field. That had its own challenges, but the biggest of it all has been watching my anxiety rise more and more the longer I am away from my paintbrushes. 

Only recently have I begun coming back to creating in very small ways.

Despite moving from actively creating art for a while, however, I was able to sell quite a few works without much marketing on my part. It looks like being home has given a few of my clients extra time to contemplate more of my work. I even had three commissions that kept me quite busy for a few months. 

Being at home most of the time has created some positive situations. This pandemic was a sort of blessing. Our community grew closer. All four families that live next to us have spent much more time together; we had frequent barbecues and shared food and playtime with our children. 

We faced it together, the good and the bad. A few of our neighbors had family members and friends that unfortunately did not survive. 

My art took a back seat for a while. This new sense of community and family has kept me on an even keel for the most part. Most of us got sick at some point, and the support between us has given me an incredible sense of gratitude. I cannot emphasize how having this connection with others was truly one of the most important aspects of getting through all this. 

I was asked about a lack of balance between people who indulge in art during the pandemic, while the art-makers like me fall on hard times. 

I don’t quite see it as an imbalance, but rather as proof of life being a combination of situations, some of which are self-made, while others are down to luck. I do not have any ill will towards people who have more than others. That is just life. 

Society is not this one thing, but a gathering of individuals, and each person has their own choice or circumstances to deal with. So I do not see society as an entity that should or should not give anything to an artist. Every time we try to implement this idea, we create much worse problems. 

Perhaps, to dive deeper into this subject, I might ask about our collective idea of what art is. It is possible that a perceived imbalance, or lack of support for the artists, might stem from the fact that those, who have the means to support the artists, have a differing idea of what art is? 

I believe that we have been suffering from a gradual eroding of what art is from within our community. There are far too many people that create something and then clamor or demand support for their “non-art.” 

Think about it, does Apple need such support from society for their iPhones or MacBooks? Not at all. Why? Because the value is evident in the product and tends to create lines of people at their stores, hoping to obtain what they are selling. 

A room full of dirt or a pile of bricks in an art gallery has no such value and only serves to challenge viewers (would-be supporters). This “art” often alienates the people. 

It is always nice to hear such phrases as “support the art,” but perhaps we should pause and have a conversation about what art is in the first place. 

If we do this, we might see that many artists are already supported by those that find value in their work. I do not think it is the same for institutions that continually have low attendance or individuals that create objects of questionable value. In my opinion, they need to stop stealing the concept of art or artist in order to gain financial support that is not deserved. I believe art that has value will generally find support.

John Sanchez is an oil painter who grew up in the New York City and New Jersey area. He trained at the Arts Students League of New York and holds a Master of Fine Arts degree from Florida International University. John describes his style as realism. He uses his traditional training to portray the modern reality of human life, including coffee shop scenes, uber drivers, and city landscapes. 

He lives with his family in Weston, FL.

You can follow him on Instagram @johnsanchez and see his work at www.johnsanchezart.com.