July 22, 2020 •
Well, a lot’s certainly happened since my last Editor’s Letter. If you have a brick-and-mortar, your state guidelines determine a lot about your business — but that’s not the only factor. In Chicago, Shayna Norwood of Steel Petal Press was open online and curbside throughout the long quarantine. During the unrest in her Logan Square neighborhood, she removed merchandise from her window and placed a lone “Black Lives Matter” sign there. “Looters would be supremely disappointed in our generally useless (yet funny!) selection of gift items,” Norwood wryly commented.
Norwood opened her doors, with extensive new guidelines in place, on June 4; in the same city, GREER Chicago never stopped processing online orders, but announced June 17 that its physical doors were closed indefinitely. “The intimacy of our shop, while welcoming during normal times, is now a major disadvantage as our store is much too small for social distancing and it’s not responsible to our customers, community or team to operate under these conditions as long as this thing is circulating among us,” Founder Chandra Greer explained on Instagram.
A deadly virus is not the only thing circulating among us, there is positive change afloat too. I have gotten emails over the past week from reps and retailers specifically seeking ranges from Black makers — a first for me. These showed me that I too can do better representing work from all makers in these pages, so I’ll be making a concerted effort to do so in coming issues.
We all clearly have our work cut out for us. But there are bright spots along the way. It seems nearly every day I come across a maker who has created something amazing to light our path through these dark times. For example, I was well-acquainted with Tal Sphantzer of Talfoto’s exquisite Petal Portraits of women and blooms, but by May she shifted gears with her riveting Masked Portrait Series of her Greenpoint, Brooklyn, neighbors — one of which I’ve shared here. “(It) presents a visual document of an extraordinary time in the history of New York City,” Tal described.
You can see more in the @talfoto IG feed, and she even has a gofundme to turn them into a book. So thank you Tal for paying homage to the brave souls who have gotten us and our precious letters and packages this far — and will help lead us into more peaceful times.