The art-less quarantine

By , Special to the Daily Memphian Published: March 29, 2020 4:00 AM CT
Jill Johnson Piper
Special to the Daily Memphian

Jill Johnson Piper

Jill Johnson Piper is a second generation newspaper writer with roots in Memphis and Arkansas. She earned a B.A. in English from Rhodes College. Her work appears in Rhodes Today and Memphis magazine, as well as The Daily Memphian.

<strong>Jill Johnson Piper</strong>

Jill Johnson Piper

Now that I can’t have them, I’m craving a Pops concert at the Cannon Center, an edgy play in Overton Square, and my favorite painting in Memphis, that huge canvas, “The Joyous Festival” by Gaston LaTouche, in the Dixon Gallery’s vestibule. 

The shuttering of the museums and theaters has awakened in me – dare I say it? – a deep appreciation for the local arts. 

MSO’s new season, from ‘La Mancha’ and Aretha to ‘Romeo and Juliet’

I have missed entire seasons of music, art and drama for no good reason at all. Now that they’re closed, they’re all I can think about. 

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Desire is perverse that way. With all the arts suspended like a tableau, I realize how much I require them. I can be at the Orpheum in five minutes, but do I get there? Saturday night comes around and I go, “Sigh, I’d have to put real clothes on, park the car, pay $5 for a Diet Coke…. Naah, I’ll just stay home.” What an insidious enemy is ennui. 

The incoming stream of virtual exhibits and online concerts can’t take the place of the first-hand experience of live art. When this thing’s over, I’m subscribing to everything. Until then, I’ll have to settle for arts delivered electronically. That should further complicate my love-hate relationship with my devices, rapidly turning to outright hate-hate.

But while we’re shut out of public art spaces, gee, it’s fun to see the interiors of other reporters’ homes. Vlad Duthier (CBS) has been doing his stand-ups from his apartment. He has that trendy fiddle-leaf fig plant and some folk art framed on the wall. 

Trevor Noah (“The Daily Show”) sits at a desk in front of asymmetrical, industrial-style shelves. A vase of artificial orange flowers and two steel globes frame the shot. It’s a little IKEA for my taste, but très moderne.

Kate Snow (CBS) has a refined, understated living room, very cosmopolitan.

But it’s Stephen Colbert (“The Late Show”) I’m moving in with when the wolf’s at my door. Put another log on the fire, and move that Adirondack chair a little, Stephen. It’s blocking my view of the water. 

Modern troubadours: Musicians deliver on doorsteps, lawns

Nearly every day I think about the ice storm of 1994 and how much this time reminds me of then. Except that this time we have lights and hot water. And TV. And food. And Netflix. Yeah, just forget I said that.


Orpheum Theatre Dixon Gallery & Gardens Cannon Center for the Performing Arts


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