Learn about how we have been spending our time (besides working on bringing your online arts programming) in the next post in our series of staff blogs at Main Street Arts. We hope that this series will give a little insight into who we are, our backgrounds, and our interests. This will be an ongoing feature that will continue throughout the duration of our closure due to COVID-19.


RACHEL

It takes a lot for me to slow down. I’m always running from one event to the next. I’m social, I almost always have a side hustle, I like to travel. Now I’m learning how to spend time with myself without spinning the proverbial wheels.

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I’ve made peace with quarantining, for the most part. I make time to meditate in my room at night when my son is asleep and the house is quiet. Fully masked and equipped with hand sanitizer, I go for walks in the evening. I love my neighborhood—I live near the George Eastman House and the Museum and Science center. The crocuses are out and the Magnolia trees are about to burst any day now. 

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Recently, I bought a bike and I’ve been riding to the river every day (that isn’t an April blizzard?). The books we read for our book clubs—I’m reading those in the sun in some park or on my front porch.
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My literary friends in Rochester are the ones I stay in touch with the most. We still do our literary translation workshops over Zoom—it’s pretty easy and productive for the most part. I miss seeing them in person, but they tend to keep in touch consistently, even if it’s not book-related.
Oh, and for the first time in about six months, I’m revisiting my novella. First draft is done and now I’m editing it.

BRAD

The studio, half cleaned… soon I will be painting again!
The studio, half cleaned… soon I will be painting again!

Normally I’d say that I spend my free time in the studio but the last time I worked on my paintings was mid-January. I had a solo show in Columbia, MO that opened the first week of the new year and then a group show in Penn Yan, NY the last week of that month. Sometimes taking a break is a good thing and even though I have been itching to get my hands on a brush, I know that time will come. I am currently working on getting the studio cleaned up and ready for some new work.

My "Pandemic Songs" on Instagram.
My “Pandemic Songs” on Instagram. I have played guitar on and off since 2001 and I played bass in a band called Christopher Walken from 2002 to 2007. More recently, I started learning how to play the guitar better and writing my own songs.

Even though I haven’t been painting, I am still pushing myself creatively every day. In May of last year I started re-learning the basic open chords: E, G, A, C, F, D and getting better at playing and singing at the same time. It has been a goal of mine to write and record an album before I die and I am getting closer to achieving that goal. I normally play my guitar while I’m in between doing other things and often will play while standing in the kitchen. My working title for the album is “Kitchen Songs”.

I record little sketches of songs using the voice notes app on my iPhone. Without this app, I wouldn’t be able to remember the chord progressions or lyrics I come up with in the moment. My process for songwriting is similar to my process for making a painting. I just start playing and something happens. Sometimes the kernel of a song will come from a few words strung together in my head or from playing a few chords on the guitar. I haven’t posted any of my “Kitchen Songs” yet but you can hear a few of my “Pandemic Songs” on Instagram! I started posting these as a challenge to myself to get comfortable sharing my music with people.

Homemade crust with homemade pesto, red peppers, black olives, mushrooms, and sun dried tomatoes
Homemade crust with homemade pesto, red peppers, black olives, mushrooms, and sun dried tomatoes

And speaking of the kitchen… I really enjoy cooking! I have been making a lot of comfort food since this whole thing happened and starting this week my new focus will be making healthier food. Oh and getting out for a run every day!


MARIA

I’ve been taking this time at home as an opportunity to delve into creativity with my children. I taught my oldest daughter, Penny, how to sew and she has made a few creations. My children are also obsessed with me making “Felt Wee Folk” dolls.

Left, my daughter Penny sewing a blanket for her dolls. Right, a few of the "Wee Felt Folk" I've made.
Left, my daughter Penny sewing a blanket for her dolls. Right, a few of the “Wee Felt Folk” I’ve made.
The cardboard box doll house!
The cardboard box doll house!

The other day we spent way too many hours (like, we sat there for 4 hours) creating a fully furnished doll house from a cardboard box and some felt. My kids absolutely loved watching and helping. I don’t think I’ll ever buy another doll house from the store again. Tomorrow we plan on making a fridge and stocking it with mini oven-baked clay food. My dishes stack up and I have piles of laundry to fold but there are days when I just feel like forgetting about all of my adult obligations and making stuff!

Left, Jo and Penny doing school work. Right, I call this my "3 ring circus", going for a walk.
Left, Jo and Penny doing school work. Right, I call this my “3 ring circus”, going for a walk.

I’ve been attempting to keep my Kindergartener “schooled” but has proven to be a challenge! She just wants to play all day. She’s an excellent reader though, and we have been reading! My kids play a lot outside and we go for walks and hikes several times a week. We ate pizza by a waterfall last week for lunch because, why not? We spend our tv time watching the 1998 Cats Musical and I’m proud to hear my kids singing “Mr. Mistoffelees” and “Jellicle Cats” throughout the day! 

Left: Eating pizza by a waterfall (Keuka Outlet Trail). Right, Penny and Jo pretending to be Cats, inspired by the Cats Musical.
Left: Eating pizza by a waterfall (Keuka Outlet Trail). Right, Penny and Jo pretending to be Cats, inspired by the Cats Musical.

Over the past few weeks I’ve also ripped out 40 year old carpet in my bedroom, peeled wallpaper and painted the walls and floors. I also shibori dyed my own curtains and added rainbow pop-poms on the bottoms! 

Left, My bedroom, newly painted with hand dyed curtains. Right, My husband, Ben, and I.
Left, My bedroom, newly painted with hand dyed curtains. Right, My husband, Ben, and I.

These days are filled with a lot of really cool things but are certainly difficult at times. Being socially isolated with two small children has been mentally demanding, but we are home-bodies by nature, so this isn’t such a huge change. I’m just trying to make the best of all of this, and I look forward to my husband, Ben, pulling in the driveway at the end of the day!  


SARAH

The home office, equipped with two sleepy assistants, Margot and Rodney.
The home office, featuring our two assistants, Margot and Rodney.

These past few weeks have been a blur, as I am sure they have been for almost everyone. Initially, when I think about how I am spending my days during this unusual time, I think about work. But when I really take the time to look at how the minutes of my days are spent right now, there is so much more going on.

Rodney and Margot after a nice long walk along this beautiful trail in Manchester
Rodney and Margot after a nice long walk along this beautiful trail in Manchester
We have two dogs, Margot and Rodney, who are loving the fact that we are home with them during the day right now. In the past few weeks, we have been taking much longer walks in the neighborhood or finding a new trail or location or go for a walks. It feels good to get out of the house and get some fresh air. Except for right now as I write this…there’s snow out there.
Attempting a walk in our neighborhood on a lovely spring day, April 10, 2020
Attempting a walk in our neighborhood on a lovely spring day, April 10, 2020
Left, me post-kettlebell workout with my stunning 10kg, 12kg, and 16 kg bells. Right, me and my good friend Amy Jo competing in our first kettlebell competition in August of 2019.
Left, me after a recent kettlebell workout with my 10kg, 12kg, and 16 kg babies. Right, me and my good friend Amy Jo competing in our first kettlebell competition in August of 2019.

I also work out on a fairly regular basis. It’s been difficult to find the motivation to work out from home during this time and I miss my gym friends who push me and inspire me during my workouts. Luckily, Canandaigua Crossfit is doing a great job at bringing people together online. I am also big into kettlebells and I am trying to get back into the “swing” (kettlebell humor) of doing some kettlebell sport training during this time.

My aunt, my mom, and me being silly during a video chat
My aunt, my mom, and me being silly during a video chat
Drawing weeds with our nephews based on Art with Miss Maria, episode 2
Drawing weeds with our nephews based on Art with Miss Maria, episode 2

Almost daily, we video chat with family. We play Bingo and dice games with my mom, my sister and our nephews. We did one of the gallery’s “Art with Miss Maria” classes with our nephews through video chat. We’ve had family dinner with Brad’s family and enjoyed his sister’s birthday celebration through video chat.

Hanging out after a competitive game of Bingo
Hanging out after a competitive game of Bingo
It’s really hard to be away from our families at this time but seeing their faces for a few minutes each day, even just on a screen, makes it a little easier.

Keep an eye out for next week’s Get To Know Us blog post and find out what’s on the Main Street Arts Mix Tape! We will be sharing favorite songs and albums, songs we can’t get out of our head, songs that are timely. Don’t miss it!

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