Pandemic Spawns ‘Emergency Art Museum’ In South Bay City

Gideon Rubin

Full coronavirus coverage: Coronavirus In California: What to KnowCAMPBELL, CA — Where most saw nothing more than another empty in a quiet residential Silicon Valley neighborhood, Johnny DePalma saw a museum.

When Santa Clara County went under lockdown, the children’s author and Umbrelly Books Publishing founder was concerned that the arts would become a casualty of quarantine.

That was the inspiration behind his creation of Emergency Art Museum, an outdoor “pop-up” museum that aims to bring some color to these dark times we’re living through.

The museum displays more than 50 pieces that merge art and pop culture, including replicas of well-known pieces including Banksy’s, “Balloon Girl,” and Andy Warhol’s “Campbell’s Soup Can,” Pablo Picasso’s “Interior with a Girl Drawing,” and Frida Kahlo’s “Self-Portrait With Monkeys.”

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“I noticed that once our kids started online schooling that a lot of the arts dropped off,” DePalma told Patch. “Since our kids started online schooling I noticed that a lot of the arts kind of dropped off.”

“We still have language and we still have math and we still have a little bit of the arts but they don’t have art days or days where volunteers come in to teach about art, so I kind of did that as a response to what’s going on, and also on top of that I wanted to make people smile. I wanted to hopefully when all of these people are out on their walks, they run into something they weren’t expecting to see and it changes their mindset.”

The mediums displayed range from paintings to photographs. The museum even includes inflatable sculpture replicas including a 15-foot-tall balloon dog.

The museum features a gift shop along with a COVID-19 “In case of Emergency” inspired sign that reads: “STAY SAFE, STAY INSPIRED & STAY 6 FEET APART.”

The museum does not accept donations but encourages visitors to donate to four of DePalma’s favorite charities: covid19responsefund.org, give4cdcf.org, unitedstatesartists.org and feedingamerica.org.

The Emergency Art Museum is located across the street from Jack Fischer Park on the corner of Miller and Abbott Avenues.

“Art is a connection to our past,” DePalma said. “It’s a way for us to see through other peoples’ eyes, which I think can be a really refreshing thing for people who are going through a tunnel vision of negativity now.

“Art has been known scientifically to be calming. It’s something where we have to use our minds to focus on beauty instead of our current surroundings.”

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This article originally appeared on the Los Gatos Patch