CAMDEN, NJ — Dolores Poacelli, a Collingswood resident who also showcases her work in Camden, scrambled to collect what she could from her art studio in Philadelphia’s Italian Market about this time last month.

The 74-year-old multimedia artist had an inkling of what the next month would hold so she gathered various papers she could use as canvases. Painting materials too. 

But she said she was wary. 

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Her husband Michael, 75, has high blood pressure, diabetes and a heart condition.

“I was afraid, like I have been lately, about things I bring into the house or how long I was out there and who I was interacting with,” Poacelli told TAPinto Camden. “He’s very at risk.”

Around the time the governor's “Stay at Home” orders took effect in mid-March, Poacelli had completed a 15-piece solo show at a Philadelphia convention center. 

A solo-exhibition focusing on gentrification in an urban city and making use of acrylic, pencil and oil, as well as what she describes as a “brick motif” to tie it all together.

“It was around March 12 that I put it up and the installation will be there for about six months but the center is closed...nobody can see it,” Poacelli said. “You work two years on a series, and somebody finally bites and then the pandemic happens.”

She’s since put in for a few materials to ease her creative endeavors at home, including acrylic paints and higher-end paper. 

In the meantime, Poacelli has improvised with black paint, 11” X 14” printer paper and glue to create a collage series with phrases that are all about the topic on everyone’s mind.

“‘Some of us are more all in this together than others,’ that’s one. Oh, and I really like ‘Playing solitaire in confinement,’” she said.

Other phrases in the approximate 18 she plans to collect include: “So Many Lies Getting Caught in my Mask,” “Home is Where the Art is, [expletive.]”

“I often ask myself, why do I keep beating a dead horse,” she said in discussing her creative drive. “In one sense, I’m in fear because I don’t know what I'm going to do next, but then again the lockdown has given me a different direction to go in. To be open to what you have to work and going for it anyway.” 

Danielle Cartier, an artist from Malaga, says she’s both found reasons to detach herself from the virus and let it be a lens for her work.

Yet, the fact she can work at all has been at the forefront of her mind.

“My studio’s at Camden FireWorks, where visitors [currently] can’t come in,” she said over the phone, taking a break from painting. “It’s one of the things that has kept me normal and sane. If I’m not in Malaga, I’m here. It’s amazing to get out of your isolation zone and really, as an artist and painter I’m used to a certain level of alone time and isolation.”

About five to eight hours of alone time, Cartier estimated, with music typically blaring and work happening on as many as three pieces concurrently.

Escaping the coronavirus news cycle, the South Jersey artist is working on three murals - part of an eight mural series recounting the maritime history of Camden.

The other five have already been installed (pictured in gallery above).

“I just finished priming the parachute cloth I do the murals on,” she said. “The murals themselves I paint in the studio and I install them outside, within a three block span of the Broadway studio.”

Cartier said she plans to install the murals in the waterfront south part of the city later this summer, able to adhere to the social distancing rules while doing so. 

She also has plans to release a series of paintings that “capture” the pandemic - specifically the messages she has witnessed in her limited travel.

“I’m working on smaller works on canvas based on photographs I’ve taken with my iPhone that relate to signage about COVID-19 I’ve seen in South Jersey,” Cartier said. “Some that talk about staying home, flattening the curve, canceled opportunities.”

Among the hardest parts of working during a time of heightened anxiety, she says was curbing some of her more artful tendencies.

“I pick up a lot of found materials, for example, what people may have discarded on the street that I can use for a piece which I just can’t do now” she said. “But there are other ways to stay creative and as an artist for us it’s just about looking for ways to uplift people.”

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