Giving Compass' Take:

• Debra Utacia Krol, at AZ Central, describes how philanthropists are contributing to Native artists in order to sustain important cultural healing during COVID-19.

• Why are so many artists suffering from the economic turmoil of coronavirus? Why is art so essential right now for cultural healing purposes and otherwise? How are you contributing to Native artists during the pandemic?

• Read about how organizations are engaging youth in art to fight for social justice.

Faces adorn the soaring block walls of Zarco Guerrero’s Mesa studio. The lovingly handcrafted masks, many painted in bright colors and others sporting jewelry and headdresses, appear almost lifelike.

A full-body sculpture of Mexican-American farmworker-activist Cesar Chavez holds down one corner, while a nearly 10-foot-tall work in progress dominates the far wall.  It's the life-size model for a sculpture that will be placed at Baseline Road and Central Avenue, at the extension of the light rail line, Guerrero said.

Guerrero and his wife, Carmen, a fellow artist and teacher, create their own art and also manage several arts events, including Dia de Los Muertos, Mask Alive! and other events that support established and emerging Indigenous and Hispanic artists.

But everything related to the arts came to a dead halt around the middle of March when the COVID-19 lockdowns started. Fortunately, the Guerreros were in good shape to ride out the storm.

“I had a number of commissions lined up for the next few years,” including light rail art, Zarco said.

Other artists across the state weren't so fortunate. As venues and galleries closed, events were canceled and practice spaces dried up.

But help is at hand, as state and national organizations have stepped up to support Native arts and humanities in Arizona with nearly $300,000 in grants over the past several weeks.

Arizona Humanities, the Arizona affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, gave $47,000 to five groups with tribal ties, including the Kaibab Paiute Tribe and the Fort Apache Heritage Foundation, to help keep the lights on and paychecks coming. One national Native philanthropic fund gave $250,000 to the Hopi Foundation to support families in need.

Read the full article about contributing to Native artists by Debra Utacia Krol at AZ central.