Local Artists Portray COVID-19’s Impact on New Bedford
Through ugly and dark times, one must search for a ray of light and beauty. That's exactly what Jeff Saint and Ryan McFee did.
The two SouthCoast residents – one from New Bedford, the other from Fairhaven – have come together to create one mural.
Saint and McFee took to the streets of Downtown New Bedford and found the perfect canvas to spray paint their masterpiece: the side of The Garden, near Custom House Square.
Across the brick building, they began producing a piece of art that symbolizes the struggle and gloom the COVID-19 coronavirus has brought to the area.
"Essentially, it was just expressing a general sadness we feel living day to day in these challenging times," Saint said. "We didn’t want to get into negativity or anything political. Seniors are missing proms and potentially even graduations. Families aren’t getting to see loved ones in fear of spreading this virus. We aren’t even allowed in our comfort zones, i.e. restaurants, bars and businesses."
With one phone call, the two artist rendezvoused downtown, cans of paint in hand and a design in their minds.
"Ryan McFee texted me and asked if I wanted to get outside and paint something," Saint told me. "He had a loose idea of the concept he saw, so I showed up, he filled me in and we collaborated. The positive feedback has been amazing."
The quiet ambiance of the SouthCoast due to everyone staying home during times of social distancing inspired McFee's idea to paint something, anything that resembled the ghost city that was once flourishing with tourists and local residents alike out and about.
"(The painting represents) the tough, life-changing days we are going through," McFee said. "The empty streets, everything shut down, jobs lost, etc."
These strange times have even affected the way we grieve during social distancing from the public to avoid the spread of COVID-19.
"A friend of mine Shane Harris's step-father passed away today and won’t be able to have a wake or a funeral," McFee said. "It's just crazy times."
Through optimism and hope, the artists have created a work of art to remember the strange yet temporary times of despair.
"When we get through this in a few months, when better days happen, Jeff and I will erase the tear and paint flowers and new life around the eye," McFee said. "I'm looking forward to that."
Finally, I asked Saint if he had a name for the mural. At first, he said he didn't, but rectified his response with a simple hashtag that read:
Local art speaks volumes these days, especially when something that has impacted the world has made it's way to our backyards. So when the time has come to abandon our houses and the pathogens have depleted, I'll be looking forward to the updated artwork that sits proudly on the corner of North Second Street and Bakers Lane.