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'Keeping the Arts Alive' During COVID: Local Artists Take Matters into Their Own Hands

Tania Ortega-Cowan
Tania Ortega-Cowan
back row: Pam Morley, Beth Siebert, Stephanie Lovallo, and Camy DeMario; front row: Judy Burgarella and Georgene Granholm

The pandemic has hit the arts community hard. Three artists came together to try to help it survive, and created the nonprofit 'Keeping the Arts Alive.' Tania Ortega-Cowan visits them at RAW SPACE Gallery in Downtown Vero Beach where they have something planned for every single day in November to help reinvigorate the arts community and art lovers alike.

Pre-pandemic, the arts community in historic downtown Vero Beach was thriving. Art lovers filled the numerous galleries and one could actually make a living as an artist. Now?

BS: They’re trying to put food on the table for their families. My name is Beth Siebert.

She, along with two fellow artists:

CM: Camy DeMario

JB: Judy Burgarella

They came together to try to help the arts community survive the pandemic.

JB: I said one day to Camy, what are we going to do? We’ve got to do something to keep the art alive! How long is this going to take?! I mean, suppose it takes a year? It’s going to die. Galleries will be gone. We need an outlet and it’s not a joke: artists need this for therapy. And some artists need it more than others. And some artists are all alone and this is it for them.

Out of this desperation sprang the nonprofit “Keeping the Arts Alive.” For the entire month of November, art will fill the Raw Space gallery located in downtown Vero Beach. The art’s for sale, but the experiences are free. Each day they have something inspiring and energizing for the community.

Tania Ortega-Cowan
Beth Siebert with one of her paintings

Here’s Beth Siebert:

BS: Free art lessons, free art demonstrations, free poetry readings. So, it’s a place where people that want to be interested in the arts or just want to come and socialize can come and do it safely. We have an exploding problem with substance abuse right now that’s going on in our community from the social isolation. We have astronomical domestic violence statistics during COVID. This is all to try to tap all that down. To try and give civilization – the Arts do bring about civilization.

Here's Camy DeMario:

CM: So, we embrace all type of creative expression and this was the best time to create something new, get people out back into life, and we know so many artists that have been struggling these past few months because of COVID, the pandemic, so we do it for them.

Raw Space gallery is appropriately named. It feels like the progressive art spaces you find in Miami and Manhattan.

BS: Raw Space represents the artist and the emptiness and how we create. We all start with an empty palette, so this space offers us all the opportunity of the empty palette to create anything beautiful for our community we want.

Art sales help artists pay bills, and additional proceeds will go to the nonprofit ‘Little Birthday Angels’.

BS: That is a charity that gives homeless children birthday parties.

The space is large and open for social distancing.

Tania Ortega-Cowan
Judy Burgarella and Camy DeMario

JB: Ya, its huge.

That’s Judy Burgarella again.

JB: You’ve gotta protect the people. So, we’re gonna be ok. We’re gonna have masks, sanitizer. And even a remote temperature check.

Some of the artists stop by:

Hello, how are you?”

Tania Ortega-Cowan
Pam Morley with her pandemic-inspired painting

PM: I’m Pam Morley.

JB: Pam is going to be our reader on Friday the 13th oooooo!

PM: I’m a psychic medium also.

JB: We’ve going to have Indian River Hauntings here!

SL: I’m Stephanie Lovallo and I live in Micco. I paint on everything and anything.

GG: And I’m Georgene Granholm. Well, I think that painting really does keep me out of the bars, (laughter), so I use it as therapy too and I wake up every day looking for the bright side of life. And that’s what we have to do. Keep going and putting one foot in front of the other and keep going and making everybody’s life colorful.

Follow this link to see the full November schedule and learn more: