• Bob Vlach, Woodford Sun Staff

Working, staying at home ‘a good thing for us’

Life hasn’t changed much for artist Damon Farmer and his wife, Beth Kirchner, since mid-March when businesses and schools began closing to slow the spread of COVID-19. Damon says he did lose a sand sculpture event in April and probably won’t be going to Italy for another in June, so “it’s given me a lot more time at home.” But because he and Beth work mostly at home “it’s not all that different,” she says. “We still spend our days basically the same way. Damon’s painting. I’m reading and writing and walking in the woods.” Beth acknowledges she had been looking forward to the trip to Florida in April, but says having Damon at home more is “a good thing for us.” Beth and Damon both have their own workspace and spend time outdoors so they aren’t around each other all the time, but they’ve grown accustomed to unconventional work lives, she explains. “Damon and I are best friends,” she says, “so it’s fun. We have a good time.” While other couples had to adapt to a new normal of being together all day, Damon says he and Beth have always enjoyed playing games, most notably chess, and working jigsaw puzzles “like most of the world’s doing right now.” The Woodford County couple, who’ve been married since 1998 and together since 1992, say they appreciate living in the country near the Kentucky River and being surrounded by nature. So while Damon enjoys carving sand sculptures in public spaces, the travel is hard and his least favorite part of those projects, he says. “It’s good to have a lot of time to paint. That’s very nice and different,” says Damon. The biggest downside to painting so much is finding wall space in their home to hang the art that he often finds difficult to part with. Asked how often they get out of the house, Beth says, “I go to the grocery every two weeks.” Damon has traveled to Berea to see his 90-year-old mom, and they sometimes take a ride on their motorcycle or go kayaking on the river, she adds. Beth says she has a weekly Zoom meeting with her friends from college, who now live all over the country. “That’s been really wonderful. And that’s been something that we weren’t doing before” COVID-19, she says. While Beth’s not currently working on any documentaries (she received an Ohio Valley Regional Emmy Award for a one-hour documentary she wrote, directed and produced for KET), she’s stayed busy with consulting jobs and has agreed to direct for Lexington’s 10-minute Play Festival. “They’re having to come up with creative ways to keep it going and to do it online,” she says of the annual festival. Woodford Theatre’s former artistic director lauded that company and its current artistic director, Vanessa Becker Weig, for being very creative and proactive by continuing to entertain audiences while not having live performances in its theater space. “I do think humanity will continue to express itself creatively, and we’ll just make adjustments and adapt,” Beth says. Knowing the joy and magic that comes from a live onstage performance for both actor and audience, “it is a very scary time for those of us in that profession,” she acknowledges. “I am missing the social component of working with other people. And the stimulation of the collaborative effort,” she adds. Beth says until audiences once again feel safe gathering for a live performance, theater companies are going to take a big hit financially, and some may not survive the wait for a vaccine or recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. It was the outbreak and an emphasis on social distancing to slow the spread of the virus that motivated Damon to finish a painting, he says. His “Deep Spacial Distancing” was one of several paintings by Lexington-area artists featured in a Virtual Gallery recently published in the Herald-Leader Weekender edition. The whimsical painting of Beth, Damon and their cat, Pooka, launching into space on the deck of their home is symbolic of their life together in Woodford County, he says. As is typical with his other paintings, Damon says the idea “percolated for a long time.” “He painted it in a couple of days, maybe two or three days,” says Beth. “So from my perspective, it came pretty easily. “Some paintings he works on for weeks. And this one appeared really suddenly.” Damon says he’s currently working on 3-D, kinetic yard art, inspired by the pandemic, that passing motorists will soon see when driving by the lower field of their home on Fintville Road. Visit damonfarmer.com to see more of his artwork.

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