Art In Uncertain Times: Ana Benaroya and Her Impeccable Pop Playlist
Just as our Spring 2020 Quarterly was hitting newsstands, we sat down with cover artist Ana Benaroya for a Radio Juxtapoz conversation that now, over 3 weeks later, feels like it came from another era. There was something in the air in NYC, but the dramatic change of daily life was not being talked about just yet. With that in mind, I wanted to check in with the cover artist this week from her studio in Jersey City, partially for a little levity and a pop music playlist, but to see how her upcoming projects were taking shape now that her schedule was potentially altered.
Evan Pricco: I feel like I'm repeating myself with the simple question to all my friends, but it’s genuine, "How are you doing?"
Ana Benaroya: I'm doing okay, all things considered! I'm on my own during this quarantine so I've been facetiming family and friends a lot...watching lots of movies and tv, haha. Luckily, my studio is walking distance from my apartment, so I've still been able to go and paint most days of the week. I'm so lucky I still have that because it's truly keeping me sane right now.
What was the first indication to you that life was going to be altered? To me, I took a walk after being a little stressed about the news, came back after an hour, and the NBA was postponed and Tom Hanks had it. Then our office closed. I know when we were in NYC together there was something in the air, but jeez, we still went to an art opening and a restaurant and a bar!
I know, our day together in NYC feels like forever ago! And just earlier that week was my birthday and I went to the MoMA with a bunch of friends. Little did we know those were the last few days we'd be able to do stuff like that. More and more of my friends were working from home and then when I saw that SF went into lockdown I knew that New York and New Jersey weren't far off. I think it was the closing of bars and restaurants and museums and galleries that made it really real for me. Now when I walk to my studio the streets are so much emptier than usual and so many stores are closed. It's just sad! Our public parks in Jersey City are closed as well, which is extra eerie.
For you, often creating in isolation, the daily schedule has probably not quite changed, but the question our friend Radio Juxtapoz Doug keeps bringing, is how do artists react when the world changes to their pace? So, do you have some killing time tips? Creative tips?
Yeah, it's true, the reality of my day to day hasn't changed much. But I was pretty social before all this happened, and I'd go out in the city many nights of the week...so in that sense a lot has changed for me. Since time has seemed to have lost all meaning, I've allowed myself to be a bit more relaxed in the structure of my days. I used to keep a pretty strict 9-5 schedule in the studio, but now I'm letting myself sleep in and take my time. I'm still being productive but also trying to allow myself time to relax and stay mentally healthy. I don't really have any tips other than not to be too hard on yourself right now. It's okay if it's hard to make work, just take care of yourself.
What is Jersey City like right now?
As I mentioned, I am walking to my studio - but I keep a distance from anyone who I cross paths with, so it seems relatively safe. The streets are pretty empty, so yeah, I think most people are staying home for the most part. Obviously people still need to go to the grocery store, the laundromat, etc... so for those things I still see people out and about.
What is one thing you have always wanted to learn that you might take up now?
Haha, oh I don't know... the inner nerd in me has been debating buying a gaming system. I used to play a lot of computer games when I was younger but have pretty much stopped since college. Seems like a good way to pass the time? Truthfully, though, between painting, watching tv, and cooking... I feel like I have enough on my plate at the moment.
Is there anything right now you’re working on in the studio that at least has you excited for when daily life actually reopens?
Yes, for sure. I have a bunch of new paintings that will be going towards future group shows, an art fair, and a solo in November with Ross + Kramer Gallery. Obviously some of these things have been postponed.. .but I have faith that all will work itself out after this blows over. I'm also working on a few sculptural projects which I'm super excited about.
Okay, I need a playlist for the rough days. Give me five songs.
I have been exchanging playlists with friends over the past few weeks. It's keeping me sane! So yes...here are five of my current favorites:
Farewell, Angelina—Joan Baez
Immortality (Live - At the MGM Grand)—Celine Dion & The Bee Gees