When the coronavirus closed the doors of the Helen Day Art Center in Stowe, the staff promptly opened the digital doors to Helen Day Online. 

“Escaping the coronavirus isn’t just a matter of proper social distancing,” says Rachel Moore, executive director. “You also need some mental distancing. Housebound adults and kids alike can escape to a refreshing emotional and aesthetic space through the daily art fix we provide.”

First-time visitors and longtime supporters are invited to use Helen Day Online as their gateway to the work of local and internationally known artists. Anyone who missed the current Helen Day exhibit can still see “Love Letters” online via a 360-degree video tour. Then, watch an art and technology panel discussion among the five artists featured in the exhibit. There’s no membership or admission fee. 

One must-see in the exhibit is the nine-minute video “Elegies,” produced with the support of Vermont PBS. Moore characterizes it as “a meditative soak in two profound experiences of loss. It might even nudge you toward a video project of your own.”

• The Helen Day is also launching an “art challenge” to the community.

Helen Day created a new symbol, available at helenday.com/online/hd-creates, to capture the coming together of equal-yet-individual elements in harmony with one another.

“Our hope is that each family will use our design as inspiration,” Moore said. “Maybe turning an old sheet into a big, colorful banner to hang from the porch, or creating a working pinwheel for the front yard, or making an online proclamation of solidarity or courage or love.”

• Helen Day Online is also the new home for art education — all adult and children’s classes will be virtual during the pandemic. Sign-up for spring classes is going on now.

Each week, the staff creates a new activity for children and walks them through it online from the Jeff White Hands-On Room. 

Also new this week: a studio visit with the Dutch digital artist Jeroen Nelemans, who teaches at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.   

“Outstanding art is a reflection of outstanding community support,” Moore says. “And we are grateful to our board and donors for making it possible for us to carry on. Nothing like an art-based diet to nourish your spirit, even in the toughest times.”

• Thanks to an anonymous donor, Helen Day has distributed art kits to Stowe children. Each bag includes watercolor paints, a paintbrush, sidewalk chalk, paper, tissue paper and a glue stick. They were distributed with school lunches at Stowe Elementary School on April 24. The remainder can be found on the front porch of Helen Day Art Center at 90 Pond St. while supplies last.

The anonymous gift will also allow Helen Day to offer free or low-cost interactive classes, which are available for art students of all ages. Sign-ups are happening now. 

More information: helenday.com/online.

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