Capture This Moment:

A Group Photo Essay to Document New Beginnings

July 2021

Nancy Kaye, Instructor and Curator

The exhibition includes the work of: Sharon Bothman, Lynda Fenneman, Cassandra Franklin, Lillian Freeman, Nancy Kaye, Sara Leikin, Debra Ruby, Elizabeth Anne Springett, and Phil Stein

The workshop, lead by Nancy Kaye—professional photographer, educator, and curator—served not only as a creative outlet for students, but also as a way of sharing experiences. Our collaboration creates a visual chronicle of these historical times.

Organized by the Soraya Sarah Nazarian Program in Fine Arts

Chief Curator, AJU: Dr. Rotem Rozental

In summer 2021, when workshop participants set out to document this moment of the pandemic, there was much hope amidst many indications of new beginnings. We saw a return to indoor restaurant dining, concerts, travel, and crowded festivals. However, the path away from the pandemic has hardly been a steady and linear one.

By August the country was experiencing another surge in virus cases, due in part to the more transmissible Delta variant. Also occurring were “breakthrough” infections affecting some vaccinated people. Hence, there is a dual hesitancy—the vaccinated who are reluctant to fully resume activities (and to shed masks) and the unvaccinated who remain hesitant to get the shot. Our current exhibition blends depictions of a reemergence into the world along with more metaphoric reflections on the pandemic.

Time to Dance, Sara Leikin, July 24, 2021, Santa Fe, New Mexico

The joy expressed by this mother and daughter as they danced to the mariachi band mirrored the mood of the crowd and the joy in experiencing live music at the first festival in over a year.

Return of the Crowds, Sara Leikin, July 24, 2021, Santa Fe, New Mexico

As I turned onto the main street of the Traditional Spanish Market (the first, live festival of the year), I felt excitement, relief, and a little trepidation as the crowd began to fill in with others eager to peruse the tents full of art.

Alone Together, Sara Leikin, July 24, 2021, Santa Fe, New Mexico

As the streets of Santa Fe began to fill with people for the Traditional Spanish Market, just a few blocks away a woman sat in a quiet place away from the crowd. Even as guidelines loosen and the world is opening, many may continue to avoid large gatherings and events.

After over a year of isolation we could once again venture out into the world. The “world” in this case was a river cruise from Portland, Oregon, to Clarkston, Washington. The American Pride river boat had been taken out of “storage” and much of the staff was new, which added to the sense of adventure. Passengers danced on the deck of the river boat as it sailed up the Snake River toward the Idaho. Tourists also added their footprints to the land on Cape Disappointment on the north shore of the Columbia River, Washington.

Dancing on the Snake River, July 7 2021, Snake River, Washington

River boat American Pride, Phil Stein, June 29, 2021, Astoria, Oregon

The Lighthouse on Cape Disappointment, June 29, 2021, Pacific Ocean

A Road Less Traveled, Nancy Kaye, July 2, 2021, Ventura, California

For much of this past year and a half, dining inside restaurants wasn’t allowed. To accommodate more customers, eateries increased sidewalk seating and often pushed out into streets closed to traffic. These “pedestrian plazas” have been so popular that there’s now a push in some places, like Ventura, to make them permanent. It’s the beginning of something new—and better.

Made in LA, Lynda Fenneman, July 1, 2021, Los Angeles

Celebrating museums being opened and my first chance to get together with friends, I saw the Made in LA exhibition at the Hammer Museum. The line between art and spectators grew thin and became as one to me, as masked figures moved through the gallery space. I saw art all around me and I was a part of the new experience of Made in LA, too.

Cello Concert, Lynda Fenneman, July 30, 2021, Los Angeles

This was a first public concert for the quintet of cellists since the pandemic isolated them from each other and the public. Zoom kept them together. The Renaissance music they played befitted a re-opening, new awakening concert. The performers expressed their joy at being able to perform again, and the audience was enthralled. You could hear a pin drop as everyone was so intent on hearing the soothing music in such a beautiful outdoor setting.

Finally feeling safe enough to take a road trip, we visited a friend who had moved to Prescott, Arizona, during the pandemic. In Prescott’s Old Town, there was something going on that felt new—a live concert outside in the plaza. It seemed like the entire town was out dancing and celebrating what we thought was the end of COVID. Even the dog danced!

Let’s Dance, Debra Ruby, June 18, 2021, Prescott, Arizona

Rock & Roll, Debra Ruby, June 18, 2021, Prescott, Arizona

Birthday Victory, Sharon Bothman, July 22, 2021, Santa Barbara, California

My father holds his arms up in a gesture of victory after blowing out the candles on his cake. He managed to survive COVID and other challenges and made it to the finish line to celebrate his 92nd birthday. And he is about to have a piece of chocolate cake.

Welcome back to the Hollywood Bowl! I truly missed outdoor concerts last year and am so grateful to be able to enjoy the live music again with friends and family. The staff, waiters, and a few of the musicians wore masks regardless of being outside. Everyone stood for the National Anthem, including the musicians. It was great to be back.

Welcome Back!, Debra Ruby with Eric Ellsworth, July 20, 2021, Los Angeles

The National Anthem, Debra Ruby, July 20, 2021, Los Angeles

Box Seats, Debra Ruby, July 20, 2021, Los Angeles

Oma, Lynda Fenneman, July 11, 2021, Los Angeles

After months of being miles apart and isolated, Oma happily holds her first grandbaby for the first time at a family gathering in honor of the late patriarch of the family. Restrictions had been lifted and wearing masks outdoors was no longer required—just in time to witness a grandmother’s award-winning smile. A new beginning. A promise of better tomorrows for this new baby.

Whoopee!, Lynda Fenneman, July 11, 2021, Los Angeles

What could be finer after a year of isolation and mask wearing than to finally have the whole family together— cousins and uncles, aunts and grandmothers, etc.—whooping it up, full of pent up energy, running around in the back yard. The mask requirement has been lifted for outdoor activities, now people can see each other having fun. Yippee!

Backpacks with Tiny Hikers, Lynda Fenneman, June 28, 2021, Los Angeles

Near the Arroyo Seco in Pasadena, children gathered for a nature hike. After months of remote schooling, what was this in-person experience like for them? Did they take comforts from home in their backpacks, personalized to express something about the inner child? Electronic games? Did wearing masks change how they interacted? Learning how to cope with nature develops problem-solving skills. “Be prepared” is the Boy Scout motto.

Two Dogs and a Tyke in a Buggy, Lynda Fenneman, July 3, 2021, Los Angeles

A cute and ingenious solution for keeping a child a safe distance from others, while venturing out of the home with pets and toys in tow.

Still Here, Cassandra Franklin, July 5, 2021, Oregon

On the Oregon coast we were joined by Bento, our Corgi with degenerative myelopathy (DM), the canine version of ALS, which has gradually robbed him use of his hind legs. Bento’s humans focus wistfully on him and the bitter sweetness of his resilient spirit, knowing that DM means death is in the wings. Bento, however, is turned back toward life, as if to say, “This is my silver lining!” Moments earlier, strapped in his “wheelchair,” his sporty bright blue booties wing-like, Bento was flying across the hard-packed sand, chasing balls and birds, delighting in life’s small pleasures. Each of us must find our version of blue booties as we emerge from the cocoon-like existence of COVID. We, too, look back and reflect on the silver lining moments of the pandemic, finding courage to rediscover and delight in life’s small pleasures.

Juan’s Horse, Lynda Fenneman, July 23, 2021, Los Angeles

If you ever need a cure for the blues, just go smell a horse’s breath, pet its velvety soft nose, look deep into its eyes, and feel your blood pressure drop and your mind go, “Aaah.” It’s medicine in a stall that Juan keeps in his backyard.

The Grand Canyon Railway from Williams, Arizona, to the Grand Canyon was a great experience. The railway staff dressed up in the style of the Old West, which made wearing bandana masks part of their costume rather than mandatory attire on the train. The banjo player was terrific! With reduced capacity for safe distancing, each section of the train got their own entertainment as musicians moved from compartment to compartment.

Studying the Map, Debra Ruby, June 15, 2021, Grand Canyon Railway, Arizona

The Entertainer, Debra Ruby, June 15, 2021, Grand Canyon Railway, Arizona

The Conductor, Debra Ruby, June 15, 2021, Williams, Arizona

American Pride, Elizabeth Anne Springett, 23rd July, 2021, Sacramento, California

Tokyo Olympics 2020…in 2021. Over 11,000 athletes representing 206 countries participated. The journey was filled with many bumps along the way for these athletes, but finally, the Parade of Nations and the U.S. team emerges. Excitedly, I wave my small flag at the TV and notice the monitor image between the threads of the flag cloth. I captured the moment, eyes swelling with tears…it was my moment of American Pride. Let the games begin.

Donny, Lynda Fenneman, July 27, 2021, Los Angeles

The Imperfect Juggler, as he calls himself, got his start when he moved in with a family of world class jugglers at the beginning of the pandemic and, coincidentally, found a new hobby. Misfortune inadvertently created a new beginning. Juggling three balls is relatively easy, but five balls takes a lot of practice, and practice makes perfect, hopefully.

Grapes, Lillian Freeman, July 31, 2021, Los Angeles

The striking colors of the grapes express the ripening possibility in this period of new beginnings. There is an abundance to harvest as we move into the fall and the season of the High Holidays—a time of reflection and renewal.

Pear Ginger Marmalade in Our Kitchen, Elizabeth Anne Springett, July 29, 2021, Sacramento, California

My father taught me how to make pear ginger marmalade in July 2020, a summer filled with unrest and uncertainty. Although labor intensive, as it takes 26 cups of peeled pears alone for this recipe, the process of making marmalade is actually quite therapeutic. I continue this newer father-daughter tradition for a second summer in a row…solo.

Reflection, Cassandra Franklin, July 24, 2021, Pasadena, California.

The symmetry and intrinsic beauty of this bucolic setting—the weeping willows gracefully book-ending the bridge and the glassy-calm pool in the evening light, real-life reflected as a shimmering illusion—intrigued me. The meditative, placid scene at the Huntington Gardens draws us in and invites reflection. There is gratitude for this time of liberation (albeit partial) from the psychological strictures of lockdown. Uncertain how “free” we really can be in this COVID surge, many remain masked as we emerge from lockdown, sometimes feeling that this re-emergence is “two steps forward, three steps back.”

Renaissance, Cassandra Franklin, July 24, 2021, Pasadena, California

The healing power of water has long been associated with renewal and rebirth across many cultures and religions. Here, a sheet of water, clear and yet richly textured, cascades in front of a womb-like cavern into a pool of water. The vibrant green plantings beyond the pool amplify the sense of renewal and new life.

Interconnectedness, Sharon Bothman, July 30, 2021, Encino, California

The duck in front carves out a path in the water that the duck behind it follows. This symbolizes the way we are all interconnected. Living through the pandemic, the decision of people who choose not to get vaccinated has a powerful and lingering effect on the people around them. But like the duck who leads in the water, they are unaware, not seeing the trail of water that encloses whoever follows in their wake.

Lost Ground, Cassandra Franklin, July 24, 2021, Pasadena, California

As we emerge from COVID, the process of finding our new “normal” has not been a linear path forward. Forward momentum has been followed by some missteps back, followed by new forward momentum. Although COVID has brought horrific loss for many, for some the cocoon of living life in the comfort of our own homes has been a blessing. Juxtaposed with the sweeping gray-green grandeur of the cacti, the starkness of the sign and its message announces that re-entry inevitably involves loss as well as gain.

Say a Little Prayer for Me, Elizabeth Anne Springett, July 24, 2021, Sacramento, California

I noticed a Praying Mantis on a white flower. “Hey, are you saying a little prayer for me, my friend?,” I thought. I chuckle. My companion kept me company, while I watered the garden, ever watchful, motionless, and waiting for prey with its forelegs folded…like hands in prayer.

Flower, Buds. and Bug, Lillian Freeman, July 31, 2021, Los Angeles

The buds are the emerging prospects of new birth at this time. The grasshopper, tucked in the petal, is a symbol in some cultures of “taking a leap of faith.”

A Bird in a Bush, Lynda Fenneman, July 23, 2021, Los Angeles

A thorny branch is an unlikely but metaphoric perch for the tiny bird hopping and chirping in my garden. As we navigate the pandemic and look to new beginnings, we must tread carefully. The chick’s parents called frantically as I approached for a better view. The chick froze, like a statue amongst the thorns, listening to parental advice on how to survive large predators. Learning to fly is the first step out of the nest, into a new beginning, into the future.

Dining In, Lynda Fenneman, June 23, 2021, Los Angeles

It was my first time eating indoors at a restaurant in a year and a half. It wasn’t crowded, but I was nervous until I looked over at the only other patron, who seemed calm and relaxed eating alone indoors. It looked so easy. I enjoyed my taco immensely. A new beginning, I hope.

An Anachronism, Lynda Fenneman, July 1, 2021, Los Angeles

The pandemic hit hard. Restaurants have fought to survive, but finally, in July, were permitted to serve customers indoors, as well as outdoors. El Coyote, established in 1931, looks the same as always: eclectic and kitschy. This is the perfect time for gathering on its famous patio and supporting a favorite restaurant through hard times. Waitresses now wear modern masks with their traditional dress.

The Gatekeeper, Sharon Bothman, July 23, 2021, Santa Barbara, California

You cannot enter the hospital without facing this woman at the counter. She is the gatekeeper who filters the flow of the public entering the lobby. The mask she wears hides much of her face, making it hard to read her expression. But I see the stress in her eyes.

Pep Boys, Elizabeth Anne Springett, July, 27, 2021, Sacramento, California

As I pull into the parking lot, the “Replace Rear Lamp” light is flashing on the dashboard. Wait, what? The Pep Boys Retail store is closed. As I enter the Service Department Door entrance, there they are, Manny, Moe & Jack. A reminder that we have all been driving less.

To Mask or Not to Mask, Nancy Kaye, July 2, 2021, Ventura, California

When California’s economy reopened June 15, fully vaccinated people were exempt from wearing masks. For a brief period of time only unvaccinated people were required to wear face coverings indoors. It seemed odd to me to be in a store unmasked, yet wearing a mask felt like being “labeled” as unvaccinated. By August, the rules had changed again. In parts of the state, everyone —vaccinated or not—must wear a mask inside.

Starbucks, Lillian Freeman, July 2021, Los Angeles

Starbucks was in the center of many lives during the pandemic. The drive through never closed even when other cafes were shut. I met, befriended, and chatted with this barista as I passed through almost daily.

Rainbow Truck, Lynda Fenneman, July 1, 2021, Los Angeles

Can’t miss this food truck’s splashy appeal for customers. El Rey de las Frutas, the King of the Fruit, is perfectly set up for on-the-go pandemic snacking. It grabbed my attention and reminded me of the importance to support local entrepreneurs during these difficult times.

New Beginning, Sharon Bothman, May 20, 2021, Encino, California

Photographing the agapanthus flowers on daily walks, I noticed the dramatic way individual buds gradually break free of the skin enclosing them. Only a small part of the flower enters the world at first. It is a gradual birth that reminds me of how I felt when the world started opening up after a year and a half of being confined at home during COVID-19. I didn’t rush out into the world all day every day. I returned to the world slowly to avoid feeling overwhelmed. When the world began to open up, it was gently and tentatively like an agapanthus bud blooming.

Are You Smiling at Me?, Elizabeth Anne Springett, July 24, 2021, Sacramento, California

In my meditation with nature, I stumble across a rose smiling at me. I smile back. In the absence of seeing smiles, with faces covered by masks, I see “smiles” in other places.

Ancient Emoji, Cassandra Franklin, July 24, 2021, Pasadena, California

This classical structure with its ionic columns provides a humorous window into our emergence from the pandemic. As we return to “normalcy,” many of us continue to wear masks in public spaces, remaining vigilant in light of the continued risks of Covid still present in our world. The “smile” of the image is compressed into the “eyes,” reminding us of how we can still communicate emotions such as happiness and warmth, albeit muted by our masks, through our eyes.

Tickled Pink, Sharon Bothman, July 22, 2021, Santa Barbara, California

I was tickled to see images of Ruth Bader Ginsberg on the mask of a family friend. The bright pink background upon which the many images of RBG float makes the mask whimsical while giving the late justice her dignity. Masks serve a protective function, yet they’re also part of fashion and a means of self-expression. A woman who wears a mask festooned with RBG is almost certainly proclaiming her belief in women’s rights—and without uttering a single word.

Striped Socks, Sharon Bothman, July 22, 2021, Santa Barbara, California

Living removed from the world day after day during COVID allowed people to dress for themselves rather than for the outside world. Happily mixing plaid pajamas with colorful, striped socks conveys the relaxed routine many people have adopted.

Tower of Books, Sharon Bothman, July 24, 2021, Goleta, California

Many people turned to reading as a way to escape the grim reality of the pandemic and enter other worlds and have adventures. The woman in the red dress in the painting looks like she needs to come up for air. The expression on her face matches how I felt as sheltering in place dragged on for too long a time.

Woman Dreaming, Sharon Bothman, June 27, 2021, Santa Barbara, California

The painting of a woman is reflected upon a window. She looks removed from the world, dreaming, immersed in the cocoon of her thoughts. Sheltering in place during COVID-19 provided the space and time to slow down and ruminate about the world from a distance. When life gets hectic, I will return to this photo to remind me to carve out time to dream.

The Appearance of Light, Sharon Bothman, July 23, 2021, Goleta, California

The lights reflected in the framed picture seem to appear gradually as you look at the artwork, the way stars do in the sky as dusk deepens into night. The points of light are like the moments of hope that emerged as life began to open up after a year and a half of being confined and isolated in our homes. They are small points of light, small points of hope.

The Sleeping House, Sharon Bothman, July 30, 2021, Encino, California

I walked by this house often in my daily perambulations in my neighborhood during COVID-19. I find it endlessly mysterious and have named it The Sleeping House. Its front doors seem to swim deliriously in the shadows. The house looks like it’s in a fairytale. I’ve never seen anyone walk through the front doors, which only adds to the aura of otherworldliness. It is as if the house is under a spell that even the gradual reopening of the world after a year and a half of sheltering in place cannot break.

A Couple on First Date, Lillian Freeman, July 2021, Los Angeles

First dates and new coupling possibilities somehow arose in these difficult times for the young. So many single people, teenagers, and divorced men and women have not been able to connect and date during the pandemic time of isolation. For these two, there is the possibility of new beginnings.