“We see a lot of photographs and video clips, and hear lots of talk about curves and graphs,” artist Tone Rubio says of news reports about the COVID-19 pandemic. “My main focus is to show the emotion that is hidden behind masks, goggles, and face shields. There is lots of talk about heroes, and rightfully so, but we don’t see enough of the realism behind each individual fighting for us on the frontline — the hurt, the pain, everything they endure.”

Those feelings of fear, uncertainty, and terror show right through the PPE on the professionals Rubio depicts in Frontline, his new series of drawings, which earned the Indo-based artist a $500 grant from the nonprofit California Desert Arts Council (CDAC).

CDAC and La Quinta Arts Foundation established a $50,000 Keep Art Alive fund to award grants to local artists and arts organizations who create thoughtful, inspiring, and relevant works responding to the crisis.

Born and raised in Indio, Rubio is a fixture on the local art scene, contributing large-scale art installations to Coachella Music & Arts Festival and Raices Cultura’s Dia De Los Muertos. He also works as an artist mentor for Raices Cultura, partnering with local high schools on arts projects and events; maintains a studio practice, creating works exhibition and sale; and works as an art framer.