MEDFORD >> The coronavirus has forced every individual, and every business to re-evaluate, be creative, and find new ways to connect with others in a world where community has been dismantled almost overnight. It has turned lives upside down and challenged the patience levels of each one of us.

The Medford Arts Center (MAC) in Medford, which joined the South Jersey community in 1997, has faced the same challenges as every other business in 2020. The MAC does not sell or offer vital necessities or services, such as food, clothing, or healthcare which currently keeps some businesses afloat. The MAC offers something equally important however in this strange time.

It offers peace, hope, and a taste of normalcy. Art puts into being what words cannot. Art is raw emotion materialized. It can show the beauty and the horrors of life. It can be thought provoking. We are all struggling to comprehend this past year and the ways we have been forced to pivot. The MAC is a refuge. A refuge from our currently unreliable world.

When state restrictions were enacted limiting in-person interactions, the MAC decided to pivot as many other businesses did. The art classes were swiftly moved to online learning for the most part; art exhibitions were also moved online which has allowed for a larger worldwide participation, poetry readings were moved to weekly YouTube uploads, and the gift boutique was placed into an online store where handmade items can be purchased directly. Just last month, the MAC was named the best Art Gallery in Burlington County by the Burlington County Times. Shop our gift boutique www.medfordarts.com/gift-boutique.

The MAC’s current exhibition is a juried “2021 Works on Paper” exhibit which can be viewed online, and beautiful artwork can be purchased directly from the website for the first time. The exhibition may be viewed at www.medfordarts.com/2021-works-on-paper-juried-exhibition-online.

The first-place award for “The Marketplace”, a mixed-media piece, went to Debra Friedkin.

Second place went to Maria Payer for her watercolor painting entitled “Bound to Make Scents”.

Richard Hoffman was awarded third place for his watercolor entitled “Camden History”.

The next exhibit is the “2021 Just Photography” exhibit which opens Feb. 12.

The MAC runs on the love and support from a family of artists, musicians, poets, and volunteers and is grateful for the continued support of the south Jersey community.

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