The idea for Northside’s ScareCoronas came to resident Tina Gutierrez in the middle of the night; she had been feeling the loneliness born from COVID-19-induced quarantine and was thinking of ways to ease the “bad feelings” she was experiencing. As an artist, she turned to what (and who) she knows best. She called neighbor and friend Rene Micheo at three in the morning with an idea: “art for Everyone, with a capital E.” Though at the time, they could not have imagined the spread that these charming do-it-yourself Scarecrow-adaptations would have, they knew they needed a project.
The ScareCoronas, dubbed by Micheo, are created from household objects in order to “scare away the virus.” Erected in yards, porches, and even in miniature for apartment widows and balconies, some are scarier than others, many are goofy, and all are whimsical. What started as a two-person team soon expanded to include Regina Kuhn, who Gutierrez says is the “glue” of the operation. She developed the Google Maps and Google Earth tracking functions on the ScareCoronas website that provide virtual tours of the community art installations. Kuhn also developed a downloadable scavenger hunt, allowing for families to safely get out of the house and get to know their neighbors through the art they have created.
The ScareCoronas team has worked what Gutierrez calls “a full-time job and a half” while developing and managing this project, but they are seeing the pay-off: Micheo has been contacted by communities across the country, and even across the pond, who are participating. ScareCoronas are popping up in Colorado, Las Vegas, and the United Kingdom, all while continuing to grow in Northside and surrounding Cincinnati neighborhoods.
Though still in the works, Micheo, Kuhn, and Gutierrez are developing a ScareCoronas contest. But, as Gutierrez says, they didn’t want it to be competitive, as they want to continue encouraging people to “make art for art’s sake.” The contest allows each ScareCoronas participant a vote toward selecting their favorite charity organization, who will then receive a donation from the Northside Community Fund. Gutierrez says this way all participants, from the professional artists to the children and families who made a ScareCorona, will be “honored equally for getting out there and doing something.”
Created by neighbors for neighbors, the connection between Gutierrez and Micheo is clearly reflected in the work they do. Micheo says of his long-time friend, “her work always has a muscle behind it and she creates things that encompass a lot of people; the reach is there to stay even once the event is over.”