It’s April 2020 and humanity has been hijacked by a virus named COVID-19. Businesses are closed, events canceled, and life feels “on hold.” But rather than bemoan the fact that we are stuck inside and missing one another, artists are finding opportunities. Creative people are staying busy by working in their studios, sharing online, and inspiring others. Even if we cannot gather – we can still collaborate.

One of my favorite collaborators is the photographer Norma I. Quintana. Although we come from different worlds, we’ve always felt like kindred spirits. Our first project together was the presentation of a show called Napa en Blanco y Negro featuring photographs taken by Norma’s workshop students from an afterschool program called Nuestra Esperanza in Napa, CA.

In 2004, we planned another show of Norma’s Forget Me Not/No Me Olvidas series portraying subjects from all walks of life, who live, work or travel in the Napa Valley. And then in 2007 we arranged for an exhibition of photographs taken by students on a Prince of Peace China Cultural Tour. Called Returning Swallows it looked through the eyes of girls who had been adopted from China by American families.

Through these projects, we developed an understanding of each other’s aesthetic and abilities. Both of us are Scorpios so I think that says a lot about our zealous curiosity and passion for art. We are both connectors and collectors – putting people and things together is second nature.

So, it became obvious that we should share a space to curate art and objects. That space was Napa Nest, a pop-up hybrid gallery where we hosted exhibitions of local artists and sold treasures - reclaimed, crafted and collected. It was a much-needed gathering place for creatives in Napa. We hosted workshops, film festivals, and flea markets. The joy of discovering new talent and hunting for vintage items never got old. But paying rent and staffing a physical space became too arduous and closed Napa Nest in 2010.

Fast forward 10 years and many more collaborations later, Norma and I have decided to re-convene the idea of melding art and design through our combined talents. Even after a decade of change, challenges, triumphs and some tragedies, our partnership still feels natural. And because “virtual reality” is the new reality, we will be launching this new project online.

I hope you’ll all join us on this journey and help us in this effort to support contemporary artists and crafts people who provide daily inspiration through their work. Please subscribe to our newsletter and follow us on Instagram @percharthouse.