The art of confinement: Six inspired projects by Colorado artists under quarantine

Anthony Garcia’s garage

The work of Anthony Garcia Sr. is familiar to just about everyone in Denver. The one-time graffiti writer is now a mural-making maven with public projects in neighborhoods across the city. He’s also co-founder of Birdseed Collective, a group of artists who show their own work and mentor scores of young people.

Stuck at home like the rest of us, he turned his signature move — geometric murals made with bright colors inspired by sarapes and other textiles — on his own abode, gathering his family together for this hand-made redo of their North Denver garage.

For a more public piece by Garcia, check out his “Crossroads/Encrucijada” painted on the traffic bridge at 6th Avenue and Federal Boulevard.

F.E. Toan’s face coverings

It was natural for F.E. Toan — known around town as Frankie — to turn to mask-making as the pandemic hit and everyone was advised to cover up. The artist knows how to wield a sewing machine as a weapon and has used textiles as the core of a body of work exhibited throughout the region. Plush, puffy and puppety, Toan’s creations look DIY playful but often take on crucial social topics. That is reflected in this set of masks that are, at the same time, fashion-forward and functional ammunition against an aggressive health threat.

For more on Toan, visit their website:

Damien Patterson’s homemade dance

When the pandemic shut down Wonderbound’s performance season, Denver’s premier contemporary dance company asked troupe members to make art at home. Then, it posted everything — a whopping 123 videos — online and made the content available for free.

Patterson’s self-directed choreography to Bessie Smith’s classic “Salt Water Blues” may be built from confinement but it is free-wheeling at its core, using the dancer’s kitchen counter and barstools as props for a solo piece that is both hyper-personal and boldly public, challenging social, movement and gender norms. It’s also highly entertaining and just 3 minutes long.

There’s so much terrific dance on the company’s site. Hang out there for bit:

Mark Bueno’s car

Denver artist Mark Bueno used his car as a muse, and found additional inspiration from current events in Italy, where the phrase “andrà tutto bene” (roughly translated as “everything is going to be OK”) has become a message of shared encouragement during the pandemic. Sure, his ride is a 1996 Hyundai Elantra with 190,000 miles and an exhaust leak, but it’s also a work of art that is both colorful and full of hope.

Says Bueno: “I plan on parking it at various locations regionally, photographing it, and sharing via social media until a vaccination is presented. After which, I will donate the car to CPR (Colorado Public Radio) or perhaps give it away to someone who needs a car.”

Bueno has another amazing pandemic-themed project using jigsaw puzzles collected from neighbors that he assembles and alters with paint.

See everything at

Zachary Barnes-Fagg’s shower video

When local arts producer Black Cube put out a call for artist videos that addressed the pandemic, dozens of quickly assembled works arrived that resonated deeply with folks suddenly dealing with unexpected circumstances. The videos are, overall, excellent and deserving of the cash prize each artist received from the COVID-19 Artist Relief Video Art Award competition, which premiered online April 15.

Barnes’ video is especially profound, and it has gotten more so as the pandemic has proceeded and the quarantining has turned endless. The 12-minute piece is quite simple, really, focusing on the glass door of Barnes-Fagg’s shower and the shapes and paths formed by drops of water during a bath. But it deftly captures the mind trip we’ve all been on as we live with only ourselves and the things around us.

Watch all the videos on Black Cube’s Vimeo channel. There’s a link on the website:

Adrienne DeLoe’s Pandemic Self-Portraits on social media

Denver artist Adrienne DeLoe found herself stuck at home and looking to make art that was relevant to the global health crisis. She found inspiration in her own feelings of isolation, and that manifested itself in a self-portrait.

Suspecting others were processing things the same way, DeLoe started an Instagram page and a Facebook group, both called Pandemic Self-Portraits. She posted her own work and invited others to follow. More than 200 people sent images from across the United States and places like South Africa, Italy, Poland, Russia and the Philippines.

It’s not just geography that makes them interesting. The images, posted with a short statement from each artist, run from tragic to ridiculous, and they capture a range of the deep and sometimes very strange emotions and experiences that present themselves to humans in quarantine. Consumed together, as these social media feeds allow, they emerge as a self-portrait of our collective self.

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