Shailee Curin
Shailee Curin, a local artist who participates in an outdoor art exhibition, poses for a picture. Photo by Ashley Stevens

While downtown Lincoln and most of the rest of the city were quiet on Tuesday afternoon, local artist Shailee Curin was painting the face of a lion on a white canvas to liven up the city.

Curin is among many local volunteer artists who will exhibit their work outside while offering a ‘social distancing’ outdoor exhibit. 

Noyes Art Gallery, located near 119th and South streets in Lincoln, offers an outdoor art exhibit from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Tuesday through Friday because of the social distance mandate required by Gov. Pete Ricketts. 

To limit the spread of coronavirus, the mandate requires gatherings to have fewer than 10 people with the social distancing of at least 6 feet must be maintained at all times. 

At the outdoor exhibit, the gallery will also feature some of the works of its 125 local volunteer artists. Some artists will also create their work outside as people walk and drive by. 

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“Now more than ever we need art to enliven, enhance and energize our lives,” owner Julia Noyes said.

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Some of the artworks include acrylics and watercolors and oil paintings, photography and metal sculptures. 

Because of the concerns over COVID-19, the gallery will also stream live its gallery exhibitions on its Facebook page every first and third Friday of each month at 7 p.m. so that people can still enjoy art from their couch, Noyes said. 

“Put together some snacks, and pretend you’re at the opening,” Noyes said. “Make it a date night.”  

Ashley Stevens, nature and portrait photographer, said although her business has slowed down due to the restrictions, she said she’s glad local galleries like Noyes are still opened where she and other artists can still share their arts. 

Because of the COVID-19 concerns, artists are more motivated to use online platforms to showcase their works to the community, Stevenson said. 

Curin said art can still bring hope and joy in times like this when many might feel there’s nothing left to do, she said. 

She also said some paintings could remind people about the time when they could once freely roam the outdoor life, she said. 

“Even in the darkest time, like when bad things are happening, we still create,” she said. “We’re the colors in the dark, so to speak.”

Noyes, who established the gallery 27 years ago, said while the pandemic shuts down many parts of the city, art can hopefully uplift the community. 

“Life doesn’t stop. Art doesn’t stop,” Noyes said. “Now is the time we need art to give us energy and to give us hope and to bring us beauty.”