Ricardo Santos Hernandez
It was January 2020 and my wife Judy told me her hospital was making heavy changes and planning urgently in preparation for the Covid19 pandemic in the coming weeks in Chicago.
NYC had already been swarmed by the Corona Virus. There was much confusion at the time where not much direction and preparation were being delegated by the occupant of the White House. The panic was intense nationally. In NYC there were not enough medical personnel in place to deal with the infected population. Personal protective equipment, hospital beds, and respirators were not available to properly accommodate the high number of infected people. NYC and New Jersey became the epicenters of the pandemic in the United States.
My wife is a cardiology nurse at Swedish Hospital in Chicago and by early January she was already taking measures for us to self-isolate and protect our home from the novel Corona virus.
In the confusion and stress of the virus, I painted these two pieces at our home’s basement instead of me traveling to my studio on the south side of Chicago. Life was very odd in the city and to see some people with face coverings in the streets did not seem real in early January.
I recall there were conflicting reports from the WH. Experts on epidemiology were advocating the proper approach on how to protect our families and communities. By the end of February there still was no concrete plan of action nationally on how to deal with the pandemic. Amy Goodman and Democracy Now were providing a realistic view of what was really happening in our country with the Covid19 pandemic.
The information being disseminated nationally was not accurate and troubling at times. City of Chicago officials implemented the guide lines recommended by the Center for Disease Control. The city was gradually taking the steps necessary to lock down and keep all non-essential workers off the streets.
When late February came along, my wife asked me to go to our home in Kino Springs, Arizona to self-quarantine and isolate while she dealt with infected Covid19 patients at her hospital. We agreed it was safer for me to be away during the height of the pandemic in Chicago.
These two paintings for the Corazones Unidos exhibition at Raices Taller were painted in Chicago during the height of the Corona virus in the windy city. Soon after, in early March I arrived in Kino Springs, Arizona to self-isolate while the intensity of the virus ravaged Chicago, NYC, and New Jersey.
Las trensas de mi abuela is a reflection, a memory of the beauty of life when I was a child. At my grandmother’s house on the Nogales, Sonora side there was a presence of love and I felt protected. Her aged hands that cooked food for our family when we visited and her long black hair that was turning gray had the smell of the earth. It had the smell of the leña (fire wood) from the cast iron wood stove. Her hands and her hair are a truly comforting memory. I still feel that presence once in a while in my life.
El desierto soy Yo: Beauty, peace, and harmony I find in the trails of the high desert of the Patagonia Mountains and Kino Springs near the US-Mexico border. In my moments of reflection and deep thought, I can’t help, but compare the magic of the high desert to the hatred, anger, division, and careless of life in our planet.
Solo Exhibition Sep 13 – Oct 10, 2020: “Veredas Seeing Encuentro” the Quarantine Session at The Hilltop Gallery 730 N Hilltop Dr, Nogales, AZ www.hilltopartgallery.org
Chicago, Illinois & Kino Springs, Arizona