Saturday, December 2, 2023

Commissioned Artwork Speaks to COVID-19 Feelings

Every one of us can say that dealing with COVID-19 for the last several months has impacted our lives. Local artist and former Carroll ISD art teacher Gayle Bunch set out to morph those feelings into art when she created her first piece about COVID-19.

When Southlake Mayor Laura Hill saw Bunch’s painting on social media, Hill commissioned her to create one for the City of Southlake.

“I always look to art when I am trying to capture a special moment in time. The pandemic has certainly not been special in the traditional sense of the word,” Hill said. “I knew the minute I saw Gayle’s piece that it was the perfect way to capture the impact of the pandemic on our citizens and most importantly, our City staff who had just been devastated by the COVID death of fellow employee Darlene Rubio.”

Hill asked City Manager Shana Yelverton, Assistant City Manager Alison Ortowski, former Assistant City Manager Ben Thatcher, Fire Chief Mike Starr and Police Chief James Brandon to share their personal thoughts about the pandemic.

“Gayle turned those heartfelt words, thoughts and fears into something beyond memorable,” Hill said.

Bunch said the words used are important because the community was given new words throughout the pandemic.

“Artists record the times and that is what the painting is about. I named it Southlake Together 2020 as a tribute to what was going on and a community coming together,” she said.

Bunch said she is focused and devoted to the painting and what she wants to portray.

“A mentor told me once that the painting talks to you and tells you what it needs. That’s exactly how I approached this one,” she said. “It was truly an honor to be asked to create artwork that speaks to the community and City employees in Southlake.”

The painting incorporates the United States flag with words and phrases like “Flatten the curve,” “#southlakestrong,” “The New Normal,” “Darlene Rubio” and “Better Together.” The artwork is displayed in Town Hall.