You want the good news or the bad news first?
We’ll start with the bad: Tonight’s opening reception at Studio & for “Insect Footprints: An Accumulation of Events – New Work from Dan Groth” has been canceled because of the rising numbers of that jerk COVID-19, which just can’t seem to get its old meat hooks out of our area – and the world. The exhibit is also canceled right now, but the gallery and Groth hope to bring it out in spring 2021.
“We don’t take these kind of decisions lightly, and it’s of the utmost importance for us to make sure that all of our Studio & family stays safe,” the gallery said in a news release. “With COVID-19 spiking in La Plata County, we have come to the decision that it is the responsible thing to do to not hold an event like this at this time.”
Now for the good news: You can still get Groth’s latest work, both at the gallery and online.
“The Funny Pages” is a 16-page newspaper that features Groth’s drawings and stories. The publication itself was laid out by Emily Ciszek.
And, funny enough, the project began at the last art opening at Studio & before everything went to hell in March and the world became a ghost town.
“That was like the last social gathering anybody had; people were social distancing and we were finding out about, ‘Oh, the rec center is closing down tomorrow,’ that kind of thing,” Groth said. “It was just really weird and some of that social-distancing stuff at the beginning kind of played into some of my insecurities. So I got home after that party, and I did this little three-panel cartoon. The first cartoon is called ‘Back Off!’ Sequentially, I started with the last panel first and then I was like, ‘Oh, I can make this into a three-panel cartoon,’ and I’ve done that in the past, made nonsense cartoons, but this one was like, ‘I’m just going to roll with this.’”
As the shutdown continued, Groth’s pieces piled up and “The Funny Pages” was born.
“My world all of the sudden was turned over, and that was one of my outlets, doing these things, and I would say I made most of them during those first two months when we were actually kind of locked down,” he said.
“The Funny Pages” is packed with all kinds of stuff: There’s a short story Groth wrote that was originally going to be a booklet, but it’s now the Storytime section of the pages. There’s an Activities page and a horoscope. There are even ads.
“It was fun; it was great, an accomplishment,” Groth said. “I grew up cartooning, and I had a cartoon in the high school paper and then college paper, and so there was this sense of, ‘Oh, cool, I did something, even though those cartoons in high school and college actually had a punchline, where none of these really do. It was fun. There’s definitely some dark stuff in there, too.”
And while the cancellation and rescheduling of Groth’s shows is disappointing, it wasn’t completely unexpected, Groth said, adding that there’s a definite bright side to having more time before an opening.
“It didn’t come as a shock, so I started thinking about things, and I’m like, ‘You know what? I would love to have a little more time to make some art for this show.’ How the year went, everything got thrown topsy-turvy and I kind of didn’t know what to do with the show,” he said. “I got so distracted during a lot of that, I just didn’t know what to do with my creative self, I guess, and it wasn’t until mid-summer that I really got on track with what I wanted to do.”