With the 2021 Left Coast Annual Exhibition on view from April 9 through May 16, Sanchez Art Center continues to bring inspiring contemporary art to the Bay Area to nurture and uplift our spirits during the pandemic. This year's juror, Christine Koppes, Curator and Director of Public Programs at the Institute of Contemporary Art San José, selected 56 works from among the 800 entries submitted by artists from the left coast (Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon, and Washington). Koppes was "impressed with the important conversations around social change, identity, and the COVID-19 pandemic." Her selections have resulted in an exhibition that, in her words, "reflects on our interconnectedness even in a time of isolation."
Certainly the Left Coast Annual Exhibition this year highlights contemporary moments of both hope and shadow. Here are just a few instances: Amy Ahlmstrom's heartfelt quilted textile piece, I'm Okay, tells the poignant story of putting up a brave front in the midst of inner turmoil. Jenny Balisle's cross-stitched embroidery piece, Collective Grief, reminds us of the consequences of ignoring truth about the pandemic and systematic racism. Covid Diaries #7: Vote, Make a Plan by Myra Eastman captures the urgent need to act in this moment, to stay informed, to keep up with the news no matter how demoralizing, and to participate. Helen Ellis painted an expressive, intense black and white portrait of the actor, baritone singer, and Civil Rights activist Paul Robeson. Lindsay Kapoor's delicate mixed media piece Daily Ritual reminds us of the importance of finding structure in our upended lives. In the midst of social distancing, Penelope Lenaerts reminds us of the human need for touch with her soft sculpture of interlocking hands and fingers titled Chain. Sequestered by Roz Ritter is a prayer flag for our time, made with antiseptic wipes embroidered with the daily haikus she exchanged with family members in isolation. Of course, there are moments of hope and joy as well, such as Mount Haupu After the Rain, Kaua'i, by Bro Halff, and Xenia Smith's charming Kit and Caboodle.