Cultural artists urge communities to prevent COVID-19 spread in Your Actions Save Lives campaign

Saturday, May 8, 2021
Cultural artists urge communities to prevent COVID-19 spread
More than 20 California cultural artists are joining forces to help stop the spread of COVID-19 through plays, music, and installations.

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- More than 20 California cultural artists are joining forces to help stop the spread of COVID-19 through plays, music, and installations.

It's all part of the statewide Your Actions Save Lives campaign to raise awareness about wearing masks, washing hands, social distancing, and vaccines in communities disproportionately impacted by the coronavirus.

Installations throughout California were launched in April and performances will be held through June. Some installations will be displayed for at least six months and dates will vary by location.

In the Central Valley, four groups have been commissioned by the Alliance for California Traditional Arts, an advocacy group for folk and traditional arts.

The artists are sending a message of awareness, resilience, and hope to the Latino community, one of the groups disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.

"The information flow to our community is limited," said Juan Felipe Herrera, a U.S. Poet Laureate Emeritus who is contributing to the campaign. "It's not bilingual, typically, and it doesn't get there. Materials don't come."

Herrera is writing a radio play and has recruited some of his former Fresno State students from the 90s to perform it.

"When you're doing people's theater, they're gonna be kind of exaggerated, and big, and interesting, and they're going to start tugging at your heartstrings, and laughing strings, and mind strings all at the same time," said Herrera.

The play comes with an important message. As coronavirus cases and deaths fall, and businesses reopen, COVID is still a real and present threat.

"What they (characters in the play) talk about is always about wearing the mask, it's always about six-feet distance. It's always about being cognizant of, if you don't wear the mask, you're going to, you may infect somebody else."

Amy Kitchener, executive director of Alliance for California Traditional Arts, is leading the four pieces in the Central Valley and says it's important to have artists who are from the communities they are sending the message to.

"It's for our families, it's for our community so that we can eradicate this disease. So that's gonna be really important right now and the timing of this is that we're still bringing relevance to the dangers."

In addition to Juan Felipe Herrera, there will also be a piece from Carmencristina Moreno, a National Heritage Fellow. The lifetime achievement is the United States' highest honor in the folk and traditional arts. The program will also feature the musical groups Leonel Medoza and Los Originarios del Plan, Grupo Recreacion, and the San Joaquin Valley Latinx Music and Poetry for COVID-19 Prevention.

The whole program will air on the National Latino Public Radio Network Radio Bilingue in mid-June.

Additional California COVID-19 Community Arts Projects

San Francisco: Serge Gay Jr., mural, Safety First. 2390 Market St. in the Castro District.

Oakland: Masako Miki, interactive installation, Benevolent Animals, Dangerous Animals. Multiple locations in Chinatown.

San Jose: Robin Lasser/Adrienne Pao, pop-up art installation, Spring Awakening Text Bubbles. Multiple sites.

Monterey County: Anjelica Muro /Hector Mendoza Anguiano, newsprint, posters and t-shirts, Comunidad "Juntos salvamos vidas." Tienditas, supermercados, local businesses in Monterey County.

Los Angeles/East - El Monte: Francisco Palomares, pushcart with handmade artworks, and coloring books, masks and postcards designed by the artist, PalomaresBlvd Art Carrito in El Monte. Seven sites in downtown El Monte including the Transit Center, parks and plazas.

Los Angeles/South: Raul Baltazar, one-day performance, No Rona!. 20-mile bike ride/performance from South to East LA.

San Bernardino: Tamara Cedre, pandemic-related stories of local residents shared through video, printed 'zine distributed in newsstands and website, Bridging the Space Between Us. Multiple sites throughout San Bernardino.

Santa Ana: Elena Loureco, Natalia Mendoza and Isabel Gonzalez, storefront installations in downtown Santa Ana, with installations in lending libraries throughout Santa Ana, Transformative Actions. Santa Ana.

San Diego: Tatiana Ortiz-Rubio, mural, Stop the Spread. Bread & Salt Gallery.

El Centro: Ernesto Yereno Montejano, mural, Untitled. Cynthia's Flower Connection.

Stockton: Sunroop Kaur, mural, Spring. JMP Restaurant Supply.

Sacramento: Jessica Wimbley, digital installation and static billboard; Masking Series. Arden Fair Mall and Oak Park neighborhood.

Redding: John Harper, exterior installation, Birds on a Wire/Lessons from Nature. Turtle Bay Exploration Park.