For our Topanga New Times art issue and our upcoming TNTV art special, we invited local artists to share their current projects using the #SavetheArts hashtag. We received an amazing outpouring of creativity from our readers, who demonstrated that the arts are alive and thriving, despite the challenges of the coronavirus crisis. Here is a showcase of some of the submissions we received. Look for more art in our video feature, coming soon to here, and on social media @TopangaNewTimes.

Sara Traband is a public relations and marketing professional, but she is also an artist and maker. 

“Whether it’s dabbling in mosaic, mixed media, sewing or fiber art, I love to create,” she told TNT. “During this time of COVID-19, time spent creating and trying new skills with my young adult daughter has been wonderful time well spent. I have knit hats, scarves and fingerless gloves for many years, but I recently learned how to make crocheted baskets. I’ve made upwards of 30 during this time — in all shapes and sizes, experimenting with different fiber weights and color ways. See more of Sara’s colorful and inventive designs @stuffbysara, or www.stuffbysara.net

Lara Clear is a new resident of Topanga and a COVID-19 survivor. “After suffering from Covid myself for the month of March, once April hit I really needed a new creative endeavor to bring me back to life,” Lara told TNT. “I volunteer with my therapy dog all around LA and in many hospitals so I decided to create a book series called “Dakota Therapy Dog’.”

In the last two months, Lara has written five short stories in the series and one longer book also starring Dakota. The books are being illustrated by Katie Watts and the first—Dakota Therapy Dog Goes to the Airport—will be available on Amazon this fall.

“I can’t wait to be able to share all the books to the world and am grateful this passion project and dream of writing a children’s book has become a reality spurred by the pandemic.”

Genevieve Ruddock embraces the philosophy that everyone can be an artist. Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, she has made daily paintings and drawings that she shares on Instagram, together with photos of her daily adventures living in Topanga with her house rabbit @lavenderjaq. She is also launching a virtual “clay club” for young artists and a book club for children 4-11, that will start with the book This Is What I know About Art by Kimberly Drew—a look at how artistic expression is a powerful force for social change. www.lavenderjaq.com

Lilyana Bath-Klock

Antonia Bath submits her daughter, Lilyana Bath-Klock’s work. The incredibly detailed coronavirus art project speaks for itself. The 14-year-old artist describes her work as “my version of COVID.” 

The Canyon Poetry Club Poet Nadia Shajari is not only creating poetry, she is working to create an inclusive online Topanga poetry community. 

“I have lived in the Canyon for the majority of my life and feel so connected to not only this land but also the community of artists that live here,” she told TNT. “The Canyon Poetry Club initially was an idea that I had of creating a poetry night that would have taken place at various locations in the Canyon, where people could come and share their poems and writings.”

When the COVID crisis derailed the plan, Nadia turned to social media. “I have always been very nervous to share my poetry on the Internet but I found that every time I would take the leap, I would be contacted by various poets who would share their work with me privately,” she said.  I noticed they would not share their work on their own platform. The Canyon Poetry Club is made to be a space that feels inclusive and encouraging, because I know just how vulnerable it feels to share your most intimate thoughts, especially to strangers on the web.”

Nadia invites artists to create their own collage poems to share. @canyonpoetryclub

Topanga artist and activist Sarah Diana Lejeune told TNT that she draws a still life almost every day. She said she thinks of the series as ‘Pandemic Still Lives’, “a reminder that while we are ‘still’ our lives go still on.” 

“Each image documents a date, what is on the kitchen table when I wake up,  and the number of worldwide deaths,” she explained. “These drawings began as a meditation on the catastrophe that is unfolding at the same time that my day goes on in an humble, ordinary, lucky-to-be-alive way… I am a Covid survivor, and I know I am lucky. While I was ill my days were not ordinary at all, but now they are again, I am still, and alive.”  

Quarandreams series by Suzanne Guldimann

Unusually vivid and strange dreams appear to be a side-effect of life in the time of coronavirus. This phenomenon is so widespread it has gained the name “quarandreams.” For Topanga New Times Editor Suzanne Guldimann, her quarandreams have become the inspiration for a series of paintings. 

“I recently discovered the iPad app Procreate, which is like having an easy to use and almost unlimited paintbox at one’s fingertips,” she said. “In this strange time when everything is online, digital painting seems the perfect medium for the moment. When I’m working on a painting, even if it is only for a few minutes at the end of the day, I feel entirely at peace. It’s an unexpected blessing, and the first time in years that I’ve found the space and time for a daily art practice. @malibupost