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Poe Park Visitor Center Online Gallery: Creative Strains

COVID-19 has struck New York City with an unrelenting force, causing an unprecedented health crisis, severe economic strains, and a massive change in our way of life. Creative Strains highlights artists’ work during this unique period of life in our city. The works on display highlight not only the struggles of self, depicting the physical and mental toll of the pandemic, but also the moments of community and mobilization, as people find serenity in nature, and passion in mobilizing for social, political, and economic change.

About Poe Park Visitor Center

Poe Park Visitor Center is a community hub at Poe Park in the Bronx that offers art, literature, fitness, and community events. Due to the pandemic, the center is closed until further notice and the gallery has temporarily moved online. 

Shellyne Rodriguez

"These drawings were inspired by the desire to slow down and reflect. A desire to archive. I created a series of portraits of the people who have fought alongside me against the criminalization of the poor, and for community control of land and housing. I have created portraits of the thinkers who I admire that have expanded our collective thinking and we are better for it. And I have made portraits of the people around me, in my neighborhood as we all sheltered in place to combat COVID-19. Together these drawings form a historical record of 2020 as seen through my lived experience." - Shellyne Rodriguez

A Black post worker in uniform wears a blue mask and gloves while operating a scanner

Andy

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A Black post worker in uniform wears a blue mask and gloves while operating a scanner
A Black biker wearing a pink dur rag holds a blue mask to his face while standing over his bike
A Black biker with a black mask on sits on a bike
A Black couple leans on each other while riding the train; the woman fell asleep while wearing a book; the man has a bandaid on a finger on the hand he uses to gesture to soneone not shown
A man with gray hair and a blue cap looks out from the doorway
A delivery worker wears a yellow vest while riding between delivering food
An ice cream truck against an orange background
A Black girl wearing pink pyjamas with colorful dinosaurs wears a blue mask

About artist Shellyne Rodriguez

Shellyne Rodriguez is an artist, educator, writer, and community organizer based in the Bronx. Her practice utilizes text, drawing, painting, collage, and sculpture to depict spaces and subjects engaged in strategies of survival against erasure and subjugation. Shellyne graduated with a BFA in Visual & Critical Studies From the School of Visual Arts and an MFA in Fine Art from CUNY Hunter College. She has had her work and projects exhibited at El Museo del Barrio, Queens Museum, and the New Museum and her work has recently been commissioned by the City of New York for a permanent public sculpture, which will serve as a monument to the people of the Bronx.

Albert Areizaga

"What I create will be my path to immortality. It will ultimately serve as a testament that I was here." - Albert Areizaga

Acrylic drawing of a scene in New York. The sun looks like the microscopic cells of covid; a mural on the wall shows someone in a hoodie presenting a bottle of purell; words on the mural read: spare a squirt, financing available, purell; in front of the mural, a man in a business suit wearing a mask offers a squirt to someone sitting on the street with a mask on. Text below the drawing reads: Stay home? Don't have one.

Stay home, don't have one
20 x 24, acrylics, 2020

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Acrylic drawing of a scene in New York. The sun looks like the microscopic cells of covid; a mural on the wall shows someone in a hoodie presenting a bottle of purell; words on the mural read: spare a squirt, financing available, purell; in front of the mural, a man in a business suit wearing a mask offers a squirt to someone sitting on the street with a mask on. Text below the drawing reads: Stay home? Don't have one.
Acrylic drawing of a body wearing a mask in an open cakset. The casket is placed against a green screen with an image of a church on a hill and a dove in the sky. There are camera lights around the casket; a camera is pointed directly at the body in the casket; a hand stretches out from th corner with a clapper board that reads: Zuum Funeral Productions. Plan: Air; Economy: 1am to 2am. Text under the drawing readsd: Stay Home or Else
Acrylic drawing of Edgar Allan Poe holding a feather for writing next to a heart placed on a try. A raven begins to rise out of a book in the paper. Another raven is perched behind Poe and looking out to the moonlight between the trees; a clock on the wall features a skull in the middle; someone is peeping through a whole in the wall; their hands grabbing unto the opening where a brick was

About artist Albert Areizaga

Born in 1956 at Lincoln Hospital, Bronx, NY to traditional Puerto Rican parents, Albert grew up watching his father draw. He started drawing at a very early age. Throughout Albert’s life, there has been an insatiable desire to create art, a desire that has never really subsided. When he retired from the military in 2001 as Master Sergeant E-8, he began a new career as a professional photographer and graphic designer. After a 12 year hiatus from painting to concentrate on photography and graphic design, he suddenly got the urge to paint again about six years ago. He’s been painting regularly since. Albert is also a poet who has been published by CENTRO (The Hunter College Center for Puerto Rican Studies.) He is currently a part time adjunct Art Professor at Boricua College.

Nelson Santiago

"This is what keeps me up at night. Knowing my Mom passed away ALONE in the hospital and my family and I couldn’t be with her. I miss her terribly." - Nelson Santiago

A Black post worker in uniform wears a blue mask and gloves while operating a scanner

Mom
16 x 20, acrylics and paint markers, 2020

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A woman in a hospital bed is connected to a monitor, saline, a bag of blood, a ventilator, and an oxygen tank. There's a visitor chair at the side of her bed but it's empty.
A pained face, eyes closed and tears flowing against a background that looks like a cracked wall

About Artist Nelson Santiago

Nelson Host Santiago, a New York City native, deeply rooted in his Puerto Rican heritage, was born in Spanish Harlem and raised in the Bronx. Nelson discerned his innate artistic talent at the tender age of four when one of his uncles introduced him to a series of comic books. Influenced by colorful images depicting various superheroes, he began drawing, sketching, and painting, producing his earliest works without any formal training. Shortly thereafter, Nelson became captivated by urban hip hop culture and immersed himself into the world of graffiti art. It was at this time that “Host One” emerged unto the cityscape. Throughout the following decade, Nelson, aka Host One, actively engaged in Wild Style pieces as well as street bombing on a myriad of metropolitan “canvases”.

Ghislaine Sabiti

"This new body of work is from a fascinating exploration of my symbiotic relationship with the minority, community, misrepresented population, and police brutality which is engaged with political issues and social justice issues inequality. The characters are from the spring and summer 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, Black Lives Matter, and the different marches through the U.S. to create an intimate series of paintings in which I documented the police brutality and injustice in the U.S. I will paint with the same attention to expression, posture, and mood regarding the political and social justice issues that they face every day. I will give a voice to those who don't have a voice through my paintings." - Ghislaine Sabiti

A hanging canvas of two faces, each above shopping bags that read Thank Your for Shopping Here; below the bags is an outline of someone propping their chin while lying down and looking up

Can’t Eat Don’t Buy
50.5 x 56, oil on canvas, embroidery, mixed media, oil on canvas and tapestry, 2019

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A hanging canvas of two faces, each above shopping bags that read Thank Your for Shopping Here; below the bags is an outline of someone propping their chin while lying down and looking up
threads in various colors embroiderd on a canvas; there are blotches of blue, green, red, and yellow. The word free is embroiderd in blue at the top left of the canvas
Painting of boy wearing a blue shirt and an orange collar; his eyes wide; he is outlined in green and yellow; there are strings of blue embroidered around him
A brown girl in a dress stands firm while surrounded by blotches of red and the words Integration means beter schools for all embroidered on the canvas
Two women of color stand together as the enter a space filled with swirls and patterns in colors of blue, red, and green
Blue threads are embroidered like an aura around a male of color; there is a patch of red embroidery on his head
A mouthless person with eyes wide is surrounded by embroidery patches in pink, blue, and red; words embroidered down the side of the vanvas reads for jobs and freedom
Embroidery like a braid outlines the facial features and body of a person of color

About artist Ghislaine Sabiti 

Ghislaine Sabiti is an interdisciplinary French/American Congolese-born artist, a painter, costume designer, and teaching artist who was raised on the outskirts of Paris, France and is now based in New York. She studied fine art at Atelier Chantier du Coq and graduated with honors in fashion design from Atelier Chardon Savard in Paris, France. She studies glass lamp-work and photo decals at Urban Glass. She highlights the technical form used in both African and European arts, which stress form and color. Sabiti completed a fellowship at the Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute Cycle VIII of the Spring ICA, award from the New York foundation of the Arts Immigrant Artist Program. Her work has been exhibited and commissioned nationally and internationally in France and the U.S. in numerous group exhibitions and solo shows including galleries and museum such as El Teatro del Museo Del Barrio, Occupy Museum Debt Fair at the Whitney Biennial, Atelier Rosal, Westfield State University Arno Maris Gallery, Rio Gallery, shapeshifterlab, Harlem School of the Arts, Brooklyn Film and Art Festival and Small Space Fest, and Poe Park Visitor Center.

Vincent Salas

"Social, political, and spiritual issues have and continue to be of great importance to my work as an artist. My pieces Battling Corona and Hail Mary are my way of bringing hope and prayer into the deep suffering we are all experiencing during this time of COVID-19 by using ‘spiritual’ images of Angels, and Mary along with the visual of the virus. Shamans Wear Masks, was my way of putting out the message that we all need to participate in keeping, not only ourselves, but our communities safe, by wearing masks. The visual of Shamans wearing masks emphasizes this message. Shamans are healers, and we too can be healers, if we embrace the qualities of kindness, courage, and love." - Vincent Salas

Cherubs, stars, an outline of a mask, and an outline of a human figure float near a microscopic look at covid which is a circular object with red puffs all around

Battling Corona
8 x 11, collage, 2020

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Cherubs, stars, an outline of a mask, and an outline of a human figure float near a microscopic look at covid which is a circular object with red puffs all around
A depiction of Mary before an American Flag; there is a heart shaped object over the stars of the flag; Mary is covered in COVID cells as she looks downward
Depictions of shamans wearing masks

About artist Vincent Salas 

A self-taught Puerto Rican Artist, social, political, and spiritual issues are of great importance to my work. In 1975, I emerged on canvas with my graffiti name — DO IT — and became a member of the Nation of Graffiti Artists (N.O.G.A.) combined in spray paint with collage and construction. My work continued in many forms, including found objects, mixed media, construction, collage, acrylic, watercolors, and mixed media installations. I curated many alternative gallery spaces for 15 years, including the Food Stamp Gallery – two large windows in a Cashier Store in East Harlem, where I showed works by a variety of artists and community groups dealing with issues such as homelessness, drug addiction, gentrification, AIDS, police brutality, to name a few. I also curated Galleria Boricua – 12 showcase windows in the lobby of Boricua College in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

Laura Alvarez: Studio Q Self Portraits

"The stay-at home order started a couple of weeks earlier in Spain. All my family is there while I do my thing an ocean apart in New York... I started creating early morning self portraits, like a meditation system to put my mind in something else than what we are going through... They reflect how I feel that morning, the news I listened to the day before, the number of people we have lost and the ones we will have to say goodbye. The tough times many people are going through due to the lack of employment and money, the ones that are now richer than before thanks to this pandemic. I used Lara Bello's music, singer and songwriter from Spain that lives in NY and with her sweet melodies moves my brush." - Laura Alvarez

Nine images of the drawings of the artist's face in a paper drawing pad. The drawings are arranged as three in each row for three rows. Each face is drawn in a singular ink color with ranging hairstyles than includes bangs. Each face is drawn on its own page to reflect the artist's mood for that day. From left to right, row one, image one: the drawings are black with dark shadows and hair down and volumous while the eyes look straight ahead; image two: green with hair up and eyes looking away to your right,; image three: purple and blue with hair down, flat and tucked behind the ears with eyes looking straight ahead; row two, image one:  reddish-orange, hair down, eyes looking slightly to the your right and lips parted; image two: orangish-yellow, eyes slightly looking away and a small smile; image three: green with hair pulled back and eyes looking down; row three, image one: purple, face appears puffy, eyes out of focus, and hair pulled back; image two: black, hair down and tucked behind the ears while eyes look away to your left; image three: blue-back with hair pulled to the side and over the shoulder, face appears puffy with dark circles

Time-lapse
phone camera, 2020

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Nine images of the drawings of the artist's face in a paper drawing pad. The drawings are arranged as three in each row for three rows. Each face is drawn in a singular ink color with ranging hairstyles than includes bangs. Each face is drawn on its own page to reflect the artist's mood for that day. From left to right, row one, image one: the drawings are black with dark shadows and hair down and volumous while the eyes look straight ahead; image two: green with hair up and eyes looking away to your right,; image three: purple and blue with hair down, flat and tucked behind the ears with eyes looking straight ahead; row two, image one:  reddish-orange, hair down, eyes looking slightly to the your right and lips parted; image two: orangish-yellow, eyes slightly looking away and a small smile; image three: green with hair pulled back and eyes looking down; row three, image one: purple, face appears puffy, eyes out of focus, and hair pulled back; image two: black, hair down and tucked behind the ears while eyes look away to your left; image three: blue-back with hair pulled to the side and over the shoulder, face appears puffy with dark circles
Nine images of the drawings of the artist's face in a  paper drawing pad. The drawings are arranged as three in each row for three rows. Each face is drawn in a singular cink olor with ranging hairstyles than includes bangs. Each face is drawn on its own page to reflect the artist's mood for that day. From left to right, row one, image one: the face is yellow and turned slightly looking to your right, the hair is blue and tucked in a low bun; image two: green, eyes look slightly away to your right, hair is pulled back; image three: red, hair is down around the ears and face is slightly turned to your light with eyes looking straight ahead; row two, image one: blue-green, image takes up less of the page, hair is down and eyes look away to your left; purple, shadows under the eyes looking slighty off to yyour right, hair is tucked back and flat; image three: black, hair in a bun, eyes look straight ahead; row three, image one: orange, hair is down and eyes look intensely ahead but towards the floor; image two: orange and black, deep lines and shadows, eyes look away to your right; image three: pink, head tilted up, eyes look ahead
Nine images of the drawings of the artist's face in a  paper drawing pad. The drawings are arranged as three in each row for three rows. Each face is drawn in a singular cink olor with ranging hairstyles than includes bangs. Each face is drawn on its own page to reflect the artist's mood for that day. From left to right, row one, image one: black, hair in bun, eyes straigh forward; image two: orange, hair down, eyes straight forward; image three: purple, hair up and eyes straight forward; row two, image one: green and yellow, face turned to yyour right and hair in a bun; image two: purple, hair in ponytail and eyes straight forward; image three: green, hair down and eyes straight forward; row three, image one: orange and yellow, hair in a bun, and eyes forward; black, hair in a bun, head tuned to the right and the artist is wearing hoop earrings; image three: orange, face forward, a sligh smile and the artist is wearing hoop earings
Nine images of the drawings of the artist's face in a  paper drawing pad. The drawings are arranged as three in each row for three rows. Each face is drawn in a singular cink olor with ranging hairstyles than includes bangs. Each face is drawn on its own page to reflect the artist's mood for that day. From left to right, row one, image one: green and yellow, hair up and eyes forward; image two: orange-yellow, hair in waves, eyes forward; image three: blue, hair in bun, heavy strokes under the eyes; row two, image one: yellow and green, eyes slightly facing to yyour right, pursed lips, hair down; image two: purple, hair up, eyes look down to your right; image three: black, hair up, dark lines and shadows around the eyes; row three, image one: pink, hair down, eyes averted to yyour right, pursed lips; image two: green, hair down, sad eyes looking away to your right; image three: orange and brown, hair up, hoop earrings on
Nine images of the drawings of the artist's face in a paper drawing pad. The drawings are arranged as three in each row for three rows. Each face is drawn in a singular cink olor with ranging hairstyles than includes bangs. Each face is drawn on its own page to reflect the artist's mood for that day. From left to right, row one, image one: purple, hair up, long earrings on, eyes straight ahead, dark shadows around the eyes and nose; image two: purple and blue, eyes looking away to your right; image three: green and yellow, face turned to your right and eyes looking ahead towards the left; row two, image one: black, hair up, eyes looking away, lips pursed; image two: red and pink, eyes looking straight ahead, hair up; image three: pink and red, lips pursed, hair down, eyes looking ahead; row three, image one: green, eyes looking off to your right, hair in a bun; image two: orange, eyes slightly looking away, hair up; image three: green, a smile, eyes looking away to the right
Nine images of the drawings of the artist's face in a paper drawing pad. The drawings are arranged as three in each row for three rows. Each face is drawn in a singular cink olor with ranging hairstyles than includes bangs. Each face is drawn on its own page to reflect the artist's mood for that day. From left to right, row one, image one: blue, hair in waves, lips pursed, eyes looking down; image two: pink, face in a frown, eyes looking to the right; image three: black, eyews looking away in various directions, hair in a short ponytail; row two, image one: red and yellow, hair down, eyes looking away to your right; image two: blue, hair in braids, eyes looking away to the right; image three: pink, hair up, face turned to your right, lips pursed; row three, image one: green, purple, and blue, hair in waves, and eyes looking away to your right; image two: orange and yellow, hair up, eyes looking away; image three: black, hair up, eyes looking straight ahead
alvarez timelapse youtube video thumbnail

About Artist Laura Alvarez

Laura is an experienced illustrator, graphic designer, and artivist. Laura currently works for NYC Parks, where she creates public programs and organizes cultural events in Manhattan. In her spare time she creates murals to inspire the community and start conversations on controversial subjects. She believes everyone is an artist; for that, she teaches numerous art workshops with different organizations. Laura is the Co-Founder and Vice-President of the non-profit BxArts Factory, an organization committed to unlocking the inner artist in the Bronx community. She is also a board member for Artbridge, a non-profit that empowers emerging artists to transform urban spaces.  She has exhibited in solo and group shows here in the United States and Europe. She has created murals in NY, Puerto Rico and Spain.

Bobbi Beck

"During the past several months of Coronavirus lockdown and isolation, I have been passing the time creating artworks that mirror the feelings and fears that we all must be experiencing in some common way, during this long unpredictable period that we are experiencing and living through." - Bobbi Beck

A person with blue skin, purple lips, and orange-red eyes look out an ornate window. Above the window is a red question mark

Coronavirus Blues
Photography, 2020

Prisoner in my own home seeing the virus everywhere.

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A person with blue skin, purple lips, and orange-red eyes look out an ornate window. Above the window is a red question mark
Clear and purple gloves connected with lips and eyes like hair to a head with a face shield on wheels. Three umbrellas in red, blue, and white are placed above the head's forehead
Face made of parts of plants and flowers are embroidered on white gloves
The artist wears a mask that features flowers, plants, and lips embroidered on it

About artist Bobbi Beck

Bobbi Beck has always used her art as a visual language to speak to others about events that impact our lives. Working in mixed media techniques, such as drawing, painting, tapestry and sculpture, there has always been a special message embedded in her complex images that others can always relate to and identify with. 

Accent Dance, Andrea Ziegelman: Longing for Connection, Notwithstanding Isolation

Inspired by these challenging times of isolation for dancers.

 

About Accent Dance

Accent Dance NYC is a multicultural team of professional dancers and teaching artists. The artists have backgrounds with prestigious dance companies such as Alvin Ailey, the Cuban National Ballet, New Jersey Ballet, and Dance Theatre of Harlem. Accent Dance NYC's mission is to inspire youth through dance education; to enlighten through multicultural dance performances; and to empower through lasting community partnerships. The company celebrates the rich cultural history and diversity of its audiences and beyond while recognizing dance’s unique ability to unify. Since its inception in 2018, Accent Dance NYC has served over 1,500 children at schools and arts organizations in New York City and beyond. The company has performed at the Bronx Music Heritage Center, the Poe Park Visitor Center, and the Summer Streets Festival in Manhattan sponsored by the NYC DOT. 

Elana Amity

During the pandemic, Elana has been taking daily walks in Central Park, discovering new spots like the magical ambiance of the north woods, and stumbling upon the peacocks at St. John the Divine on 110th Street and Amsterdam Avenue — all captured on her new iPhone. 

A white egret spreads its wings and soars above the water

Egret in Flight 2
Photography, 2020

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A white egret spreads its wings and soars above the water
A white egret glides over the water
Close up of a blue peacock with its tail spread out wide
A white peacock with its tail spread wide

About artist Elana Amity

New York City artist Elana Amity grew up in the Bronx. She began her career as a teacher and freelance illustrator. She served on the board of the Society of Illustrators for many years. In 1984, she joined the faculty of LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts where she taught illustration, painting and drawing. In 2010, she opened a studio in Manhattan’s Garment District. Her paintings, drawings, prints and photography capture both fleeting and enduring moments of life in cities, nature and beyond. Her work has been exhibited in galleries and public spaces at home and abroad.

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