Norris Painting: ‘We’re Not In Camas Anymore’ Captures History
For more than 60 days now, Washington state has been dealing with the realties of Governor Jay Inslee’s “shelter in place” orders, which have limited mobility in an effort to slow the spread of novel corona virus.
Once the order to close theaters, gyms, restaurants to dine-in services, hair salons, retail stores, etc. went into effect in mid-March, it turned once-thriving cities into eery ghost towns, and initiated a crushing blow to the incomes and cash flow of many businesses and employees.
Local artist, Anna Norris, saw the impact it had on downtown Camas, and decided to capture this moment in history through art.
The streets were empty, along with restaurants, stores, and even banks.
“I’ve had trouble wrapping my head around this pandemic and I was looking for a metaphor about what could represent it,” said Norris. “I met with Wendy DelBosque at Natalia’s Cafe and asked ‘what are we gonna do?’ She was looking at an empty restaurant that’s normally bustling with people. So, that inspired it.”
Painting is how Norris best copes with the pandemic.
“Then as I started working on the painting, the Wizard of Oz came into it,” she said. “It was like when the house dropped. It changed everything in our lives, and it was just right. It was bright and sunny that day. There was no one in town. And there she was standing there. She was like Dorothy. I wanted to open the door and be outside. I wanted all the outside to be in color, given the chromatic colors at Natalia’s.”
Although DelBosque has seen work-in-progress photos, the big unveiling came on Thursday, May 14.
“She brought it in and I was awestruck,” said DelBosque. “I love having the muted interior colors and then I saw the outside colors. Anna and I have for years talked about making paintings true to Camas that were based on famous paintings. She has painted the outside so many times, and she wondered what she could do to portray this pandemic. We talked about how the streets were so empty and how it looked from the inside out.”
Everybody that sees the painting has a moment, said DelBosque.
Norris said people cope in their own way, and she continues to take photos of all this emptiness — for future art projects.
“I’ve painted to cope with all this,” said Norris. “I paint every day, and I paint all day. Before that I baked a lot, and cooked a lot, and the only constant these days is change. I can’t sleep. I lay there and worry about things I can’t fix. I worry about health care workers who don’t have proper PPE. I’ve only had a few times where I thought ‘Anna, you could die from this.’ My father is 92 and he could die, but he’s doing well, but he’s bored out of his mind.”
DelBosque hopes the art continues.
“Anna’s ‘We’re Not in Camas Anymore’ is one of the most beautiful things I’ve seen,” said DelBosque. “We have to put things into art. It’s the best way to document history.”
The painting will be on display at Natalia’s temporarily, and will then be moved to the Attic Gallery in downtown Camas. To learn more about Norris, visit: https://www.annanorrisfineart.com
We are so lucky to have artists of Anna’s caliber in our town. And painting our town. Likewise we’re lucky to have people like Wendy keeping our cafes going.