Would rapid result Coronavirus testing at the door bring crowds back to art galleries and museums? Artist Russell Young and Art Angels Gallery in Los Angeles think so.
On September 24th, they found out.
Partnering with social-impact investment company QuestCap, which implemented its on-site rapid testing protocol, Art Angels became the first art gallery to offer rapid result testing to visitors prior to entry, allowing patrons to then have an art experience free from worry of catching the disease.
Each guest was provided a Covid-19 test prior to their time-reserved entry. Test results were verbally given to guests within five minutes, visibly viewed on the test itself, explained, then emailed to them within 30 minutes of completing the process.
Tests were administered by registered nurses and analyzed on location via a QuestCube COVID-19 pop-up testing lab managed by Collection Sites and powered by Alcala Testing and Analysis Services, a CLIA-licensed laboratory based in San Diego.
“Once tested, collectors were very comfortable walking the exhibit with the artist as well as speaking with each other,” Art Angels Gallery co-owner Jacquelin Napal told Forbes.com. “Whether they chose to keep their masks on or remove them, you could see a level of relief come over their faces which we were happy to be able to provide.”
Art Angels hopes the success of their opening shows other galleries and institutions a safe way to conduct business and host more normalized in-person art events moving forward.
So far, so good.
“Testing has been very successful with collectors eager to be surrounded by the beauty of art once again; they welcomed the experience and opportunity,” Napal said.
On display was “Heroes + Heroines,” Young’s homage to stardom portrayed in acrylic paint and enamel screen prints on linen featuring the artist’s signature use of diamond dust. A wall of heroes and a wall of heroines. A shrine to American fame.
“The icons featured in ‘Heroes & Heroines’ are the protagonists that gave me hope and optimism growing up under leaden skies in the brutal Northern England of the 1970s,” Young told Forbes.com. “These ‘Heroes & Heroines’ illuminated my teenage years, they were my escapism, the hope of a brighter future for the young man I wanted to become.”
Everyone could use a little escapism from the unending series of tragedies 2020 has born.
“In a year where ‘No’ is the response to everything, I wanted to drop a big ‘Yes’ on the world,” Young said.
Young’s perspective during pandemic merits particular attention considering he already survived one. A previous bout of H1N1 put him in a coma.
The artist’s first breakthrough was his photography of George Michael for the sleeve of the album Faith in 1987. Young has photographed many music stars throughout the years including Morrissey, Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, REM, The Smiths and Diana Ross. He also went on to shoot over 100 music videos for leading artists during MTV’s height in the 1990s. Now, he turns his proximity to fame into a reimagining of classic Hollywood, immortalizing icons like Marilyn Monroe, Brigitte Bardot, James Dean and Elizabeth Taylor, who actually collected Young’s work.
Young explained why it’s important for him to see people back in galleries experiencing art in the flesh without the intervention of a screen.
“My diamond dust paintings are tactile and sculptural, they have an energy that reflects light in every direction and are luxurious in every sense of the word, so they need to be experienced in person,” he said. “The physicality of the work, how the light makes these characters come alive, is what really draws out their inherent optimism.”
There’s a word rarely seen this year. Take it wherever you can find it. You can find it through November 8 in L.A. at Art Angels Gallery.