‘Pandemic Porch Portraits’ wall documents city’s survival during pandemic

What started out as a hobby for longtime Pine Lake resident Cindy Brown, turned into a pandemic coping mechanism and art display for the city of Pine Lake.

Shortly after “lockdown” orders were issued in March 2020 with restrictions on public gatherings and access due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Brown, a photographer, took her first of nearly 50 photos April 4 for what would become the “Pandemic Porch Portraits” wall display. The portrait wall includes photos of residents on porches as a display of how the city survived the pandemic.

“I wanted something to keep me occupied and keep me uplifted and give me something to do so I wouldn’t get depressed,” said Brown, noting her past struggles with depression. “Interacting and socializing became hard to do when the pandemic and lockdown started, and this is something I could do from a safe distance.”

She started by taking photos of family and friends in the city and posting them on Facebook. The photos caught the interest of other residents who also requested photos, said Brown.  

The city of nearly 800 people is known for its emphasis on arts, so the project initially focused on artists in the city. It later expanded to include any interested resident.

“Many people were using music and art to help get through quarantine, but many non-artists wanted to be part of project…” she said. “Because Pine Lake is such an artsy neighborhood, I was going to focus it on that but then I realized that gardening and cooking are a form of art that we don’t typically consider.”

During the process, Brown asked those being photographed how they were surviving quarantine; some of the responses also will be featured on the wall.

The Pandemic Porch Portrait display was unveiled April 11 in Pine Lake Park on Lakeshore Drive. The photographs are planned to be rotated after approximately two months and the wall is expected to remain throughout the summer. The public is invited to view the exhibit when visiting Pine Lake Park.

The Pandemic Porch Portrait display was unveiled April 11 in Pine Lake Park on Lakeshore Drive. Photos by Cindy Brown

“Pandemic Porch Portraits” is sponsored by the city’s Municipal Arts Panel (MAP) and was also funded with money raised by Brown.

“What I like about this project is that it not only supports art, it also showcases our community and helps us, hopefully, feel more connected during this time of social distancing,” stated Diane Durrett, chair of MAP. 

-Bitsy Pitts and Johnny Coe are some of nearly 50 Pine Lake residents featured on the Pandemic Porch Portraits art display.

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