Sean Roney

I’m excited to announce Sol Treasures is hosting a gallery of my photojournalism, and a meet the artist evening will happen this Friday from 5 to 7 p.m. The exhibit is titled, “Through the Lens, Adapting in Place,” and covers how the residents of South Monterey County faced the challenge of the Covid-19 pandemic.

I invite you to come and say hello, whether you want to look at the impactful collection of photographs or if you just want to put a face and voice to this writer and photographer who works to gather the news of our valley.

The topic at hand was one that was rough to go through, since many of us faced threats and losses we never expected in prior years. This led to a year of increased political division and a polarization of opinions that exists to this day. There was also the spirit of community rallying to help one another.

But the true spark was the unusual sights no one could have predicted. I remember a catalyst moment being when I photographed playground equipment wrapped in plastic at Gonzales’ Central Park, and I realized it would be impossible to explain such a sight to people from 2019. Then as I hit the road to cover other assignments, I realized the image probably wouldn’t make sense to someone from 2029, either.

Food lines, unusual signs, protective barriers or bizarre alterations to events and parades were all images we got used to during 2020, but in time they’ll be part of our history. These are a very real component of the year, and I chose to put together a collection of such images rather than focus on the equally real grim elements of the pandemic.

Though the images are intended as both visual levity and inspiration about community, they aren’t curated to censor the darker sides of the pandemic. Rather, they’re the things we did in reaction to such a terrible year. We could grin at a slide wrapped in plastic, but the more we think about it, that visual only happened because we as a society believed children innocently playing could lead to deaths in their household.

My hope is that the unusual sights of 2020 are never repeated, and within a decade’s time will make as little sense to people in the future as they would to those of the past. Hopefully we’ve learned the needed lessons to avoid another deadly pandemic. In that regard, the exhibition serves as a way for us to take a last look at 2020 and realize we were capable of adapting and learning.

We can smile in amusement at the silly things we did, or in pride at the way groups responded to help those in need. I think a smile is needed after how terribly the past year has been.

Sol Treasures is located at 519 Broadway St. in King City.

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Sean Roney is a freelance reporter for King City Rustler and Salinas Valley Tribune, a unified publication of Greenfield News, Soledad Bee and Gonzales Tribune. He covers general news for the Salinas Valley communities in South Monterey County.


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