The Coronavirus quarantine going into effect across America has been devastating for the nation’s business, but even more so for the arts. Not only has the shutdown canceled or postponed arts events, it has also closed down the restaurants, bars and other businesses where artists work to supplement their income.
It’s an unprecedented crisis, and the Orange County Arts Commission is trying to pitch in. It has started up an Orange County Arts Support Fund to help artists and organizations struggling with the fallout.
To that end, local painter Renzo Ortega is trying to help out, too. He is offering up a selection of 21 of his paintings for sale at pretty affordable prices ($150-$400), with all proceeds going to the OCASF.
“I think it’s really important for everyone to join forces together right now,” says Ortega, who lives and works in Carrboro. “A lot of people are losing their jobs, but especially in the arts.”
A native of Peru, Ortega came to America two decades ago to study painting at New York City’s Hunter College. He moved to Carrboro about four years ago and makes a living with painting, teaching and other work. He, too, is feeling the pinch from the pandemic.
“Two big commissions I had with a couple of institutions are not going to happen now because of it,” he says. “They’ve been canceled. It’s hitting the arts industry even harder than a lot of others. So I’m doing this as a way to give back. I am a North Carolina Fellowship recipient, and I’m very thankful for the support I’ve had. If I can help, I’ll do it.”