Sharing COVID-19 stories in New Jersey

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Gregory Allen and husband Anthony
Gregory Allen, pictured with husband, Anthony.

Local authors and artists have been hit hard and are adjusting

Gregory G. Allen is an award-winning author, a screenwriter, playwright, and actor.

it’s definitely affecting our lives but I can’t help but think of the thousands of families who have been affected by losing loved ones

“Naturally the arts have been hit hard by COVID-19 and I witnessed it firsthand. As a filmmaker who had a new short film ready to hit the festival circuit this year, the quarantine put a stop to all of that. We’ve been accepted into several festivals already and have yet to make our premiere as they’ve all been postponed until fall.

My day job is that of a theater manager, and we made the decision in mid March to shut down which ended our season at that point. We usually close at the end of May. I’ve already started preparing for our fall season with the hope that we’ll be able to open then, having no idea what sort of parameters will be placed on theaters and arts centers.

“On a personal note, I stay at home all day while my husband, who is a radiation therapist, continues to go to work. It’s definitely anxiety producing for both of us as he comes and goes between home and the site where he works. We have a daily routine once he’s home when clothes come off, he’s right in the shower, and I disinfect his keys, phone, watch- everything he’s touched—and then I too do a scrub down. So yes, it’s definitely affecting our lives but I can’t help but think of the thousands of families who have been affected by losing loved ones and then my missed film festivals and daily scrub down really can’t compare.”

Visit Gregory G. Allen online at gregorygallen.com

La Vie Galerie

“The world-wide impact created by the COVID-19 pandemic has reached into every corner of our lives. Art, in all its forms, has been affected; yet, it is art–virtual museums and galleries, on line classes and performances, TV series and movies, books and art projects–that is helping to sustain individuals during their confinement.”

“Established a little over a year ago, La Vie Galerie LLC had to temporarily close their doors almost immediately after the Opening Reception of a new exhibit, All About Love, in accordance with state mandated directives and for the safety of our patrons and ourselves.

“We have worked diligently since the gallery’s establishment to create a long-term relationship with our artists as well as the gallery patrons. La Vie Galerie LLC is about inclusiveness, taking chances, offering a stimulating experience, and celebrating life. The exhibits, in each of the multiple gallery rooms, reflect the gallery’s desire to showcase each artist in a harmonious manner.”

Vladimir Rios & Lester Blum at La Vie Galerie
Vladimir Rios & Lester Blum at La Vie Galerie

Artist/owner Vladimir Rios finds it difficult to not be able to share the remarkable art at the gallery that stimulates the viewer’s imagination and enables them to appreciate the vivid stories entailed within each piece. With the gallery being closed, at this time, the business has been negatively impacted. Once La Vie Galerie LLC is able to be re-opened, Rios promises a big celebration of La Vie (life).

To continue bringing the gallery’s art to the public eye, the gallery administrator and artist, Lester Blum, has expanded the presentations on social media, the gallery’s website,  and on television as a regular art segment on the Preston Lopez Show, hosted by Vladimir Rios, where the gallery’s artists and work are showcased. Until safety and precautions are no longer necessary, La Vie Galerie LLC will continue to feature and promote art and their artists as a virtual experience.

“Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.”—Pablo Picasso

La Vie Galerie, LLC, is located at 106 Naylon Ave., in Livingston, NJ. Visit online at laviegalerie.com

Joseph Pittman, and their dog, Shadow
Artist Steve Cummings, author Joseph Pittman,
and their dog, Shadow

Artist Steve Cummings

“I’m an elementary school art teacher and working artist. We educators have been teaching online since March 16. Every colleague I’ve talked to will admit to feeling overwhelmed by the amount of work we have done—and continue to do. We are setting up remote platforms for our student population, planning, keeping track of their progress, as well as recognizing the undeniable inequity or dysfunctional home lives of many. This shutdown truly shows the importance of public schools and in-class student contact.

“I’m naturally more introverted, and an only child, so I’m used to keeping myself occupied and am rarely bored. I enjoy spending quality time with my husband Joe. He is also home with our black lab mix, Shadow. I try to power walk alone on a walking trail for exercise, and catch up on my passions: creating art, reading, and watching movies. As I step outside myself, I see a changed culture and a transformed world. I think we’re just beginning to admit to ourselves how this will affect us inter-personally, economically, and politically. We are entering this new age of an ‘alternate normal’—this era will promise both setbacks and enlightenment. This is a once in a lifetime event—we need to acknowledge and embrace every feeling, positive or negative, that surfaces within us.”

s-cummingsart.com

Author Joseph Pittman

“For all of us, it’s a strange time. We have our personal stories, of life, of jobs, of our social existence. Most of it put on hold for now. Yeah, my job went silent, I can’t see friends… but life continues and it’s at its best when you realize what you’re doing today impacts your tomorrow.

“My daily job is ticket-taker on Broadway. Even though I live in Jersey, I would commute six days a week to work my eight-show-a-week schedule. But then we shut down on March 12 and I’ve been home ever since. Do I miss the commute? Not really. But I do have empathy for the train conductors who I’ve gotten to know over these last couple of years. They are on the frontlines, too.

“What I miss most is the lights of Broadway, my coworkers, that excitement when the curtain goes up, and the applause when the curtain goes down. We may be in lockdown, but the theatre reminds us what being alive is all about life in the moment.

“Everyday life has a routine. I read books. But I also write books. Under my name and that of Adam Carpenter, I’ve published 42 novels in a mix of genres. Losing myself in my worlds is a way to deal with the Groundhog Day-aspect of our current lives. Books, whether you write them or read them, transport you to a world you want to visit. It’s a nice escape from our current one. Fiction informs our reality.”

amazon.com/Joseph-Pittman/e/B001HPN5BI

Shadow

Steve Cummings and Joseph Pittman are the fathers of a beautiful, funny, furry friend, Shadow, who is “a Greyador”—that is, part black lab mixed with some Greyhound. Shadow is a talented writer, himself… with a little bit of “help” from Joseph Pittman, that is. Shadow’s Covid-19 story puts a smile on everyone’s face, and we all need that these days.

“Hi, everyone, it’s Shadow. All last year I wrote a diary and my two daddies, Steve and Joe, tell me it’s going to be a book in a couple of months. Wow, me, a published doggie! It was only eighteen months ago when I was living in a Plexiglas room, waiting to be adopted. Gosh, did I hit the big time!

“While I wait for the publication date of The Shadow Diaries, I find myself a bit confused. Both DS and DJ (those are the nicknames for my daddies) are home, like, all the time. See, usually DS would go off to school, because he’s a teacher. He’d leave early in the morning and I’d see him late afternoon. DJ would leave me late afternoon and sometimes not come home until 1:30 in the morning. Broadway sure runs late!

“But now they’re both home and what fun we have! We go for walks, we play ball in the yard, we snuggle and snounce (that’s my word) at night while we watch movies or binge on TV shows. It’s a different life, but it’s also kinda great. It’s a chance for the three of us to breathe, be ourselves, and realize what’s most important. Social distancing might be in vogue, but you know what, I get so many hugs and kisses each day, I’m okay with what’s going on. Life will return to normal. For now, know that the space between us might be physical, but it’s not metaphorical. Hugs to all.”