By Mario Baralta
“Art in the 48,” the Emmy Award-winning series that celebrates the unique artists and art organizations across Arizona, is back for a second season, premiering Thursday, Nov. 19 at 7 p.m.
The half-hour show is hosted by Arizona poet laureate Alberto Ríos, an award-winning author and poet and Arizona State University Regents’ Professor of English, and is produced by Brilliant Sky Media, LLC. a full-service production company based in Arizona.
After the series premiered last fall, the show has since nabbed its first Emmy in the Best Magazine Program category for its episode, “Lighting the Way,” which introduced viewers to an art collective that creates interactive exhibits all around the world.
However, in the spring of 2020, “Art in the 48” had to reimagine its vision for production as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Like most of the nation, the local arts community was forced to shut down in March. Instead of meeting with artists and guests in person, Ríos conducted interviews virtually.
“What this season shows best is how art perseveres — how it finds its way to the human heart — regardless of the obstacles put in its way,” Ríos said. “The artists and organizers who spoke with us all describe new ways of doing things, which is art itself in action.”
While season two will still highlight Arizona’s vibrant and dynamic arts community, the new season adds an intimate portrait of the artists and how their work was impacted this year.
“This season we are focused on sharing personal stories of the artists,” said Shana Fischer, executive producer. “As we began production, there wasn’t just the coronavirus pandemic, there was a social justice outcry. And, art is one of the most profound and direct ways to bring issues of race, inequality, inclusion and diversity to the larger conversation.”
Towards the end of each episode, the “Art in the 48” team revisits a previously-profiled artist to explore how the pandemic has affected them. Many well-known artists and equality activists will be at the forefront this season including chef Silvana Salcido Esparza, Tom and Dick Van Arsdale, and Antoinette Cauley.
Season two isn’t more of the same. What makes this season unique is how artists have adjusted to social distancing protocols, including a pop-up art gallery, a walk-by gallery and virtual performances. Additionally, we will see how artists have used their own platforms to spread awareness about social justice.
“Art in the 48” will regularly air on Arizona PBS on Thursdays at 7:30 p.m. Some episodes will be available to stream online at azpbs.org and on the PBS app. Viewers are invited to join the conversation on social media with the hashtag #Art48.