Like so many artists today, lifelong New Yorker Margaret Zox Brown found herself searching for new inspiration during the lockdown. With Manhattan now on pause, the artist known for her ability to capture the people and places of the city was left with a blank canvas. Without access to her studio, she created a makeshift workspace in her apartment and began capturing what had become a new reality. The Lockdown Paintings — her latest series, documents her personal story of self-isolation in New York City.
While personal to her and depicting her own story of isolation, the oil paintings she created are relatable and relevant to the present time of lockdown. Her project entitled New York Characters, captures ordinary and notable city dwellers with whom Zox Brown happens to find a connection.
Through The Lockdown Paintings, the artist captures a stillness that has now, unfortunately, become the new reality of daily life for most of us. For New Yorkers who are used to the hustle and bustle of city life, this calmness is in direct contrast to what is known as normal. This can take quite the emotional toll, one that Zox Brown acknowledges in her own story of isolation. The artist says that she decided to date the pieces rather than title them so that she could “chronicle where she was emotionally during this unique time.”
Margaret Zox Brown, “March 24-April 4, 2020,” oil on canvas, 25 x 16 in. (Courtesy: Margaret Zox Brown).
March 24-April 4, 2020
A pair of worn boots represents to Zox Brown all that we have lived and done; different travels on the road of life. She paints them with the optimism that they will be worn again and do what they were meant to do, again.
April 8- April 17, 2020
This chair is the artist’s comfort spot — where she has spent many hours while sheltering in place. She says, “I really wanted this painting to represent that good feeling of comfort and warmth at home.”
April 18-April 27, 2020
The artist had heard that sunlight killed the virus, so she began hanging her family’s masks in a sunny window. While initially Zox Brown saw them as abstract shapes, through her painting, she began to see them as an actual barrier to life as we once knew it.
April 28- May 17, 2020
This painting of the artist’s husband and dog symbolizes the lazy hours we’ve all spent on the couch during isolation. Here she captures her own COVID companions.
May 27-June 18, 2020
This personal piece captures the artist in her element, relaxing in the bath with just a few items surrounding her. It’s an intimate peek into her daily life during the lockdown.
In her own words, Margaret Zox Brown says that if she were to find the one overarching message of the entire series of The Lockdown Paintings, she’d say, “there’s no place like home.”