When the stay-at-home order began in March, Carla Winterbottom created an old-fashioned way to stay in touch with loved ones.
Instead of the internet, she began sending good tidings on artistic postcards with thoughtful, handwritten messages.
She coined them “pandemograms”—a combination of “pandemic” and “telegram.”
The Beverly Area Arts Alliance, of which Winterbottom is a board member, is now using that term to describe its art tour that is underway.
The “Alt Walk”—the Alliance’s description of the alternative form of its annual Beverly Art Walk—consists of self-guided “pandemogram tours” every Thursday night through Oct. 1.
A wide range of art will be displayed at local businesses, organizers said, with Winterbottom’s pandemograms on display at The Heritage Gallery, 1907 W. 103rd St.
“When I started sending these out, the responses were profound,” Winterbottom said. “The messages were tailored appropriately to whomever I sent them. I got messages back from some people saying that they actually framed them, so that was nice. It really kind of drove home the fact that it was more meaningful than just sending an email or a text or social media.”
The Alt Walk began on Sept. 17 and will continue on Sept. 24 and Oct. 1. The hours are 6 to 9 p.m. To accommodate visitors to local businesses that might not be open at that time, the art will be visible from the outside.
About 20 businesses are participating, with the Morgan Park Beverly Hills Business Association assisting organizers.
The Alliance Co-founder Sal Campbell, who normally spends this time of year organizing the Beverly Art Walk, said the Alt Walk is a way “to still celebrate art and support local businesses.”
“People are out riding their bikes and walking in the neighborhood, and this is just another way to do that. We thought it would be kind of cool,” Campbell said. “We’re calling it the Alt Walk to distinguish it from the Art Walk. It’s something different.”
Organizers didn’t want to “pigeon hole” artists with any theme, she said, and a variety of media and forms of expression are on display, including paintings, drawings, hand-woven baskets, ceramics and mixed media.
She hopes the works are “inspirational” and connect people during these trying times.
“People have so many things that they want to express right now,” Campbell said. “It’s had such a profound effect, all these things going on. It’s wide-ranging … feeling isolated and wanting to connect to expressing grief or joy, just all these emotions. We just really wanted to create that space and that opportunity for people to express themselves.”
At The Heritage Gallery, Winterbottom is teaming up with George Perez Orta in displaying a collage of pandemograms. She said they want people to know “that we’re thinking of them and just trying to make those connections.”
Participating businesses are located on major corridors including Western Avenue, Walden Parkway, and 95th and 103rd streets.
At the new Nicky’s of Beverly, 10500 S. Western Ave., artists are painting blues-inspired murals that will remain displayed at the restaurant when it opens in the near future.
At Root Consignment, 1913 W. 103rd St., Dawn Liddicoatt, D. Rae, Samantha Griffin, Jacy Barrett and Terry Rudd are displaying re-purposed election signs that they turned into hand-painted portraits of family and friends or signs feature inspiring quotes.
Liddicoatt is also known for turning election signs into yard signs that promoting messages such as “Black Lives Matter” and “One Love.”
Campbell said an exhibit by Ann Blaas at the Two Mile Coffee Bar, located in the former 95th Street Metra Rock Island Line station, looks “gorgeous at night” due to its large windows.
The Alliance has strived to remain active during the public health crisis by hosting outdoor backyard concerts and reformatting its Frunchroom reading series to Facebook and Zoom.
Campbell hopes the Alt Walk is another uplifting community event.
“Anything we can do to support local businesses and support local artists at this time, I think it’s good,” Campbell said. “It’s a win.”
For a full list of participating businesses, visit the Beverly Area Arts Alliance website at beverlyarts.org.