Capture This Moment:

A Group Photo Essay to Document Your Journey

May 2021

Nancy Kaye, Instructor and Curator

The exhibition includes the work of: Tracy Bader, Lynda Fenneman, Tobi Inlender, Nancy Kaye, Debra Ruby, Noelle Spychala, Phil Stein, Mary Valentine.

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

Heading into summer, this is a time of transition as people are increasingly on the move. Malls and piers are more crowded, restaurant dining has increased, and protective bubbles are mixing. With safety concerns lessened as a result of vaccine protection—over 60 percent of Americans have received at least one shot— families and friends are gathering.

Caution, however, lingers. Across the U.S., vaccine skeptics are enticed with rewards for just getting the shot, while debate is growing over vaccine hesitancy and the use of “vaccine passports.”

As restrictions ease, we see significant changes compared to May 2020. Traditional graduation ceremonies are carefully held instead of drive-by celebrations, some religious institutions reopened their doors for in-person services while others continue to offer a virtual option, and outdoor recreation beckons—symbolic of long awaited freedom. All the while, social distancing and masks remained the protocol.

Whether reflecting on accomplishments of over a year in isolation, or stepping out among others, this is a time when many look ahead with optimism.

Ubiquitous Signs, Lynda Fenneman, May 13, 2021, Los Angeles

Visual reminders of where to put your feet encourage us to respect our neighbors’ space and keep a safe distance. Now as infection rates drop, we’re starting to step away from the restrictions of the last 15 months and move on.

Mall Diaspora, Mary Valentine, May 24th, 2021, Sherman Oaks, CA
As restrictions loosened, lockdown-weary customers flocked to malls and shops.

I Walk the Line, Mary Valentine, May 28, 2021, Sherman Oaks, CA

Stores may be reopening, but shoppers still practice social distancing.

Hurray! A Group Photo op, Lynda Fenneman, May 13, 2021, Los Angeles

Absence does seem to make the heart grow fonder and appreciate what we took for granted. Being together with a bubble of friends is worth a photo op to commemorate this moment in history when we again venture out and see our dearly beloveds. Still safely masked—but so what! Excitement fills the air.

My grandson Elijah’s high school graduation was held in person with safety measures taken. Just a year ago we might have been limited to attaching balloons to the car and celebrating the graduate at a distance. However, our family gathered together after more than a year isolating. Everyone’s vaccinated, so no masks required. Fall college destination is UC Santa Barbara.

Gifts and Offerings, Phil Stein, May 29, 2021, Moorpark

High School Graduation, Phil Stein, May 29 2021, Moorpark

Graduation Cake, Phil Stein, May 29, 2021, Moorpark

COVID-19 robbed us of our temple life and our close-knit community. For those who were alone there were no hugs, no warm embraces. For so many loved ones, there were no last goodbyes, and for those who remained, no condolence. Even now, before entering our temple, temperatures must be taken. Social distancing prevents us from breaking bread together after the service. Members are given a challah and a juice for an oneg to be shared at home. We are so close, yet still so far apart, but we are turning the corner. Together again, we will mend our lives and grow stronger.

Is There a Doctor in the House? Noelle Spychala, May 2021, La Mirada, CA

Almost Linked, Noelle Spychala, May 2021, La Mirada, CA

Our Wall of Remembrance, Noelle Spychala, May 2021, La Mirada, CA

Oneg to Go, Noelle Spychala, May 2021, La Mirada, CA

Like other institutions and services open to the public, churches have had to decide how to safely transition out of lockdown as rules began to relax. To publicize the plan, one neighborhood church erected a large banner announcing the grand reopening. Attendees returned to church and ushers led them to “safe seats” in the sanctuary.

We’re Back, Mary Valentine, May 29, 2021, Sherman Oaks, CA

Ushers Welcome Us Back, Mary Valentine, May 30, 2021, Sherman Oaks

Restoring Worship, Mary Valentine, May 23, 2021, Sherman Oaks, CA

A Church Is Not a Building, Mary Valentine, May 29, 2021, Sherman Oaks, CA

Neighborhood churches varied in their approach to reopening their doors. Within two blocks of each other, one church advertises its grand reopening for in-house worship, while another tells people they can worship online because “a church is not a building.”

Returning to Normal, Tracy Bader, May 31, 2021, Redondo Beach, CA

If it weren’t for the masks and a bit of social distancing, one might think the COVID-19 pandemic hadn’t ever happened.

Spring Shopping in 2021, Tracy Bader, May 23, 2021, Montrose, CA

While looking for a bite to eat, my friend and I were pleasantly surprised to see people out and about at the neighborhood Harvest Market, not letting the new Covid “normal” get in the way of enjoying the beautiful spring day.

Rose Colored Glasses, Lynda Fenneman, May 13, 2021, Los Angeles

Eyes have become more important when masks hide our smiles. An array of fancy spectacles gives a wide choice – to dazzle others or to hide behind? Better to see you with or better to be seen wearing?

Dressing up for the Part, Lynda Fenneman, 5/13/2021, Los Angeles

Creativity pulls people up out of the doldrums. I say, if you have to wear a mask, may as well look good doing it.

Disney Twins, Lynda Fenneman, May 13, 2021, Los Angeles

Reminding me of Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum wandering through Wonderland in Through the Looking Glass, ignoring Alice’s question about how to get out. We all seem to be stuck in this story where everything got turned upside down and we don’t know which door to take, but we’re determined not to drown in the dormouse’s tears.

People Watching, Tracy Bader, May 31, 2021, Redondo Beach, CA

After staying in for the past year, I found that focusing on people watching was a wonderful way to get past any concerns I had about venturing out on a day I knew would be filled with crowds.
The blankets wrapped around these women added some color and warmth on an overcast Memorial Day.

The Ice Cream Challenge, Lynda Fenneman, May 29, 2021, Los Angeles

What’s wrong with this picture? Strolling down Ventura Boulevard, trying to figure out how to lick an ice cream cone with a mask on is only one of the ways in which we’ve had to think outside the box—seeking creative solutions to do what used to be so easy. But where there’s a will, there’s a way.

Unmistakable Connection, Debra Ruby, May 17, 2021, Placentia, CA

Walking to a local car show with my dog Cody, my husband Eric and I bumped into a friend who Cody hadn’t seen in a few years. He recognized her immediately and showed his affection for her. The eye contact between them is so loving; it melted my heart. I imagine there will be many such emotional reunions as people and their pets emerge from isolation.

Good Doggie!, Lynda Fenneman, May 13, 2021, Los Angeles

Dogs provided comfort to many people during the pandemic and they got used to constant human companionship. Communication between species, seen here with a meeting of the eyes, reflects that special bond. The woman also spoke to him, “Now be a good boy and I’ll give you a treat.”

Ray’s, Tobi Inlender, October 22, 2020 & May 2021, Los Angeles

I love walking around the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) complex and its adjacent park. In fall of 2020 as COVID-19 cases surged, everything at LACMA was closed and totally empty, including Ray’s, the museum’s outdoor café. With the virus rate receding in May 2021, Ray’s was busy again, with umbrellas opened and diners enjoying lunch and drinks. Although many visitors were mask-free, masks were still in evidence.

Return of Family Dining, Tracy Bader, May 31, 2021, Redondo Beach, CA

I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about going out with the crowds on Memorial Day, but it turned out to be fun and somewhat calming—especially while watching others enjoy the day.

Meet me at 3rd and Fairfax, Lynda Fenneman, May 13, 2021, Los Angeles

The Original Farmers Market is the place to meet—the open-air patio is just right for sitting, waiting, and watching in relative safety. The tables are clean and spaced for social distancing, whether with your bubble or alone.

3 Cheers for the Workers!!!, Lynda Fenneman, May 13, 2021, Los Angeles

The Original Farmers Market is kept clean and hygienic by a bevy of workers, constantly cleaning and sanitizing tables and chairs, making it a safe space. Gourmet choices offered from over 100 shops and food vendors have you walking in circles trying to decide what to eat—then think, “I wish I’d gotten the barbecue instead. Oh well, next time.”

It’s 5:30, Lynda Fenneman, May 13, 2021, Los Angeles

Time to go home. Get rid of that darn mask. All cleaned up and ready for another busy day tomorrow. Many merchants at the Original Farmers Market remained open during the pandemic and now with on-site dining increasing, it’s a busy place.

Covid by the Book, Mary Valentine, May 27, 2021, Glendale, CA

Determined to use the lockdown period productively, Richard vowed to read as many books as possible during the pandemic. Since March 13, 2020 he has read the 72 books that surround him. Friends are asking if the final book count will match his age (84) or his height (81 inches). Meanwhile, this tall reader soldiers on.

Mask Confusion, Mary Valentine, May 21, 2021, Sherman Oaks, CA

Ironically, the same week Trader Joe’s stores announced they welcomed mask-free customers in their stores (in non-compliance with California’s regulations), they also advertised masks for sale.

Are You or Aren’t You?, Mary Valentine, May 21, 2021, Sherman Oaks, CA

The pandemic has been marked by continuing confusion about what’s open and what’s not. Here a neighborhood bar reflects the kinds of everyday conversations people are still having about the rules and guidelines. The sign offers reassurance and invites customers to come on in.

Vaccine Passport, Nancy Kaye, May 2021, Los Angeles

Along with ongoing vaccine hesitancy comes the controversy of “vaccine passports” as restrictions ease. How will our safety and comfort level be assured with the reopening of stores, offices, theaters, and other crowded spaces?

Anti Graffiti, Lynda Fenneman, May 29, 2021, Los Angeles

On my way to a bookstore in Studio City, I noticed this oddly written bit of graffiti scratched out on an alley wall. I stopped to read and ponder the meaning of the two-sides-to-every-story message. I wondered which was the original message? Was this a complete thought by one person? Or a correction by another?

Who Are You? Debra Ruby, May 31, 2021, Brea, CA

While waiting in line, this girl with golden locks caught my eye and she, too, checked me out, gazing right into my camera lens. Her expressive gaze made me wonder what her experience of the pandemic has been. I overheard them counting how many people they needed to buy cookies for — herself, daddy, mommy, grandma, auntie, and so on. I’m curious if she’s been able to see her extended family this past year.

When the pandemic began, my husband and I created paper toys as a therapeutic play and educational tool for children. We wanted children to feel secure, knowing that adults were working to protecting them, and to learn what they could do to protect themselves. We introduced in April 2020 with a story about a small, yellow, purple polka-dotted bug named Bugsy to explain COVID-19 to young children. Our collection includes four interactive play sets, each with their own characters. We cover hygiene, social distancing, wearing masks, and vaccinations, with 37 characters, numerous set pieces, and assorted games, including a Foosball Stadium and a Bowling Alley.

The Shot Felt Around the World, Noelle Spychala, May 2021, La Mirada, CA

Noelle at Her Mac Enhancing Dr. Feelgood, Noelle Spychala, May 2021, La Mirada, CA

Covidbeaters Foosball, Noelle Spychala, June 2021, La Mirada, CA

Children and parents, cooped up for over a year went to Twin Peaks/Lake Arrowhead for Mother’s Day weekend. The opportunity to explore the great outdoors, whether hopping across a giant board game or climbing and jumping on top of enormous rocks, brought unbridled joy to my grandchildren. For me, the trip to Arrowhead and the beauty of nature in the surrounding parks was a transformative experience….and an important reminder that it is possible to venture out into the world and breathe freely after a long period of distancing from people and places.

Big Game Explorer, Tobi Inlender, Los Angeles, May 7, 2021

Freedom, Tobi Inlender, Los Angeles, May 8, 2021

Hiking With Stick, Tobi Inlender, Los Angeles, May 9, 2021

Child’s Exuberance, Tracy Bader, May 23, 2021, La Cañada Flintridge, CA

While walking through the Oak Forest, I heard a woman yelling “red light.” When I turned around she explained it was how she trained her young son to stop when he got too far away. He’d stop when he heard “red light,” turn around, and wait for his Mom to give the go ahead with “green light.” Then he was off again down the path. Some things never change.

Sunday Stroll, Tracy Bader, May 23, 2021, La Cañada Flintridge, CA

Every year a friend and I visit various gardens around Southern California. Last year, due to COVID-19, those visits didn’t happen. However, as soon as L.A. County started to reopen, we got tickets and enjoyed a lovely morning out, exploring Descanso Gardens with the, albeit distanced, company of our fellow Angelenos and their families.

Planting, Tobi Inlender, Los Angeles, May 23, 2021

Spring is a time for renewal and, in this almost-post pandemic season, reconnecting in tangible ways. Planting and gardening are among the grandkids’ favorite activities. It was a great way to celebrate as our family gathered all together, mostly without masks, to hug (yes!) and enjoy my son’s birthday. Although many participated, some were still not quite comfortable being in close proximity and kept a step back. Each at his or her own pace.

Far From the Maddening Crowd, Lynda Fenneman, May 13, 2021, Los Angeles

Socially distanced learning or working can be done online from anywhere. A perfectly drawn circle on the grass at The Grove provides a safe place to connect, from within your own bubble. This transition of “work from home” to outdoors still keeps you far from the maddening crowd.

The Lonely Salesman, Mary Valentine, May 28, 2021, Sherman Oaks, CA

Introducing and selling new products during a pandemic can be challenging. This salesman hopes for customers whom he will try to sell a motorcycle/car that carries one person and retails for $18,000. The “Solo” vehicle comes at a time when travelers seek alternatives to crowded public transportation.

Solitude in Motion, Tracy Bader, May 23, 2021, La Cañada Flintridge, CA

With L.A. County’s Covid risk at the yellow tier, the least restrictive of California’s four levels, many people are back out walking in public, some in groups and some alone.

Freedom! Debra Ruby, May 30, 2021, Newport Beach, CA

The Wedge in Newport Beach, known for its large crashing waves, is a popular surfing spot. Everyone body surfs when surfboards are not allowed. Wearing a wetsuit and carrying flippers, this girl runs as close as she can to the choppy water so she doesn’t have far to waddle in her flippers before entering the ocean. Freedom is calling!

New Day, Tracy Bader, May 29, 2021, Redondo Beach, CA

As the pandemic’s hold on us is nearing its end in California, this photo, to me, re-enforces the idea that there is hope for the new days to come.