America Disrupted

By Jay Samit | September 23, 2020

Since the pandemic began, I have been sequestered in my home in Los Angeles.  As an asthmatic, I have now been sheltering in place for more than 200 days (with the only exception being a doctor’s visit). Determined to find a silver lining, I chose to view the quarantine as a gift of time and for more than 100 days, painted a new watercolor every day.  Each artwork reflects the feelings I, and our country, were experiencing.  The unexpected result is my first solo art show, which debuts at the Richard Taittinger Gallery in New York on September 30th.

The ongoing work is both therapeutic for me and an opportunity to present a social commentary about the raw fissures laid bare by the pandemic. I believe that the art bears witness to the remarkable and unprecedented events unfolding every day, and hopefully will serve as a reminder that we have an opportunity to reconsider and re-analyze our possibilities for the future.

Here’s a sampling from the fifty works being showcased in the “America Disrupted” show.

DAY 31 (“Social Distancing”)
Humans adapt quickly to disruption. While we are all in the pandemic together, social distancing makes us feel alone and disconnected. As both the sale of alcohol and lottery tickets dramatically increase, each of us finds a way to mentally escape our solitude.


“Social Distancing,” day 31, watercolor, 12″ x 16″ (2020)


DAY 58 (“Sequestered”)
Nearly two months in, the quarantine is getting to me. I miss walking on the beach, travel, and the freedom that comes with summer weather. Los Angeles’ weather is perfect this time of year and yet, I am trapped inside with paradise just out of reach.


“Sequestered,” day 58,” watercolor, 12″ x 16″ (2020)


DAY 87 (“Chucks”)
I’m trying to reframe 87 days of sheltering-in-place in a positive light; at least I haven’t had to wear shoes. One hundred signed and numbered limited edition prints of “Chucks” (40″ x 30,” framed) are available for purchase through the gallery, here.  


“Chucks,” day 87, watercolor, 30″ x  22″ (2020)


DAY 149 (“Weeping Angel”)
America now has more than 200,000 dead and no leaders have shed a tear. This angel weeps for the many souls that didn’t have to be in the cemetery so soon. With 160,000 dead on my 149th day sequestered, I ask myself when will the carnage stop? If only everyone had sequestered themselves like people did in Hong Kong and New Zealand, this all could have been over weeks ago. Where is the leadership and resolve to end this?


“Weeping Angel,” day 149, watercolor, 18″ x 24″ (2020


DAY 160 (“Endangered Species”)
With mail service the lifeblood for many in rural America, we now find the US Postal Service under siege in Washington. If mailboxes are being removed and sorting machines scuttled in an attempt at voter suppression, then what is the meaning of democracy?


“Endangered Species,” day 160, watercolor, 18″ x 24″ (2020)


DAY 166 (“Roy’s Motel”)
For my 166th day sheltering-in-place, I return to Route 66 and Roy’s Motel. Dreaming about when I can travel again. The 15 cross-country drives I’ve done are some of the best memories I have. I can’t wait to get on the road again.


“Roy’s Motel,” day 166,  watercolor, 18″ x 24″ (2020)


 DAY 170 (“Leviticus 26:19”)
“Leviticus 26:19″ is a commentary on the hubris of man vs nature. Yesterday it was 91 degrees in the Arctic Circle (33 Celsius) and it isn’t headline news. Food insecurity is spreading globally as climates change. Seventy-two percent of U.S. farms have no irrigation and rely solely on rain. “I will break the pride of your power, and I will make your heavens like iron and your earth like bronze.”


“Leviticus 26:19,” day 170, watercolor, 14″ x 20″ (2020)


America Disrupted will be on view at the Richard Taittinger Gallery, 154 Ludlow Street, New York, NY 10002 from September 30th through October 18th. The show includes 50 watercolor paintings.

See the America Disrupted exhibit

Read the press release


Copyright © 2020 Jay Samit
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