‘Everything will be okay’ – Local businesses, artists share a colorful message
Throughout May, western Nevada County business owners and volunteers have been spreading a message of resilience through rainbow-colored art in shop windows, intended to reassure the community that brighter days are ahead.
Gretchen Bond, executive director of the Miners Foundry Cultural Center, shared that the center was inspired to spread this idea throughout the area by a similar movement taking place in Italy.
As the spread of COVID-19 propelled Italy into lockdown in March, some people began to share and publicly display images of rainbows — many drawn by children — alongside the phrase “andrá tutto bene,” meaning “everything will be okay.”
According to Bond, she and others at the Miners Foundry began their campaign – Rainbows for Hope — in early May with a short message of encouragement sent out to their email list, including a rainbow-shaped coloring page with the hope of providing an activity for kids as they were home from school.
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The campaign quickly gained momentum from there as Bistro 221 became the first business in Nevada City to take the rainbow inspiration to its window, and the Miners Foundry partnered with the Grass Valley Downtown Association and Rebound Nevada County to encourage other local business owners to do the same.
“It was lovely to watch as it organically took off,” said Bond. “We’re used to gathering at the Foundry and seeing everyone there, which we can’t right now, so this project has felt like we’re all together.”
Bond said that, as of last week, she was aware of at least 15 businesses who had joined the campaign.
Nikiya Schwarz from Nevada City retail shop and gallery Kitkitdizzi said that, after seeing the rainbow art on Bistro 221’s window next door to them, she and a small team assembled to similarly decorate their own shop’s window and those of the National Hotel.
On her motivation to participate, Schwarz said, “It felt like it served to weave us together and provided a sense of optimism and vitality when some of us felt uncertain.”
“It reflects the sentiment of, ‘We’re all in this together,’ because truly in a town this size, one of our demise is all of our demise,” Schwarz added.
Erika Seward, founder of community resource and discussion group Nevada County Strong, set out to facilitate a group volunteer effort to paint windows for other interested businesses shortly afterward.
She and about 10 other volunteers began offering their time and artistic skills — maintaining small groups at each window and separate art supplies to facilitate distancing between them — to brighten storefronts throughout both Grass Valley and Nevada City.
“When we were out there painting, there were people who would drive by and honk or express thanks, so we’ve had a really positive response,” said Seward.
Annie Kendall, a local artist and co-owner of Cosmic Shark Clothing, was among these volunteers.
One of Kendall’s contributions, a brightly colored design reading “Nevada County Strong”, can be seen on the Alpha Building in Nevada City, spearheading the trail of Broad Street rainbows.
“The whole reason you get into being an artist is to share your feelings artistically and to impact people, so this has been really great,” said Kendall, adding that she has been uplifted by the community’s outpouring of positivity toward the artwork.
Victoria Penate is a staff writer with The Union.
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