The show must go on: Local artists illustrating a new era during the pandemic

Local News

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – Art has become a hobby for many throughout the pandemic. But even during last year’s lockdown, for some, art is their lifeline.

Music, theatre, and even puzzles brought people together during a time when isolation was key.

Misha Pekar was born in Russia and grew his love for music while raised in the Lowcountry.

“Currently I’m working on a concerto by Alexander Scriabin, who has been one of my favorite composures for a long time; I have a lot of personal connection to his music ethnically and some familial relations there,” said Pekar.

The College of Charleston student is a rising senior and majors in piano performance and arts management.

“It’s been kind of an honor and a privilege to work on a piece of that magnitude and that size,” he said.

When the personal touch of playing in-person got switched to virtual learning, students like Pekar say they’re struggling to connect with their work.

“For me, last Spring when we first made the shift halfway through the semester, I was doing classes over Zoom completely, and so much is lost over the video connection,” he said. “There’s nothing we can do about it.”

Different artists have different struggles. Abbi Perry, who is also a rising senior at the College of Charleston, can relate through her longing for a crowd in the audience.

“In things like comedies, it’s so nice to work off people’s laughter and the energy that the audience is giving you,” said Perry.

The theatre major says she’s not willing to give up her dream job, even with the challenges of the pandemic.

“I really loved make believe; I had a very wild, active imagination so I think as I grew up, I realized that didn’t have to go away and I could use it as a job, which just sounds like the most amazing thing in the world,” said Perry.

But some creative minds are feeling the pinch of the pandemic.

Executive director of the South Carolina Arts Commission, David Platts, describes the impact the pandemic has had on artists as devastating, saying the industry has taken some hits.

“There was a considerable job loss in the arts sector over 2020 into 2021, but it looks like there will be some recovery to that,” said Platts.

A year into the pandemic, there is a glimmer of hope and there are resources available where you can help artists who are struggling.

“Support your arts organizations and your artists and your festivals that are going on that are related to the arts,” said Platts.

You can support artists across the state at the 2021 Piccolo Spoleto Festival, which is scheduled to run from May 28th through June 13th.

Longtime Charleston artists and professional painter, Tate Nation, has participated in the festival for years.

“This will be my 20th year and it’s coming up at the end of the month,” said Nation.

Painting a bigger picture during the pandemic, he says COVID-19 hasn’t changed his business much at all. In fact, he says in some ways commission work has picked up and he’s busier than he’s been in a long time.

Thinking outside the box, he’s turned his pieces into puzzles.

“I felt very fortunate that I had something that brought people some happiness and joy, and a distraction from all the isolation that they were experiencing,” said Nation. And it’s that distraction that’s challenging artists to step out of their comfort zone.

“If anything, it’s inspired me more given the abundance of time I had- especially over quarantine where I could just sit and study,” said Pekar.

Motivating them to keep playing during the pandemic.

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