After Idaho Gov. Brad Little announced last week the state would begin to reopen on May 1, Art Spirit Gallery owner Blair Williams said she had three trains of thought.
As someone with a degree in public relations, she thought, “How’s this going to go off, and what is the potential backlash for a business?”
As a small-business owner, her reaction was, “Great! We can start opening our doors for the public again.”
And as a human being, she wondered, “How can we keep everyone healthy?”
After asking a fellow small-business owner whose husband works at a hospital if she would be opening her shop on Friday, Williams decided the Art Spirit Gallery was ready for business.
On Friday and Saturday, patrons will get a final chance to see the current show featuring works by Kathy Gale and Gordon Wilson.
Then on Sunday, Williams and gallery employees will take down the show and hang “Treasures of the Spirit,” which features pieces from the gallery’s inventory. The show also will be videotaped and offered online through the Coeur d’Alene Arts and Culture Alliance’s website.
“They, last month, successfully mounted a virtual art walk for all of the galleries downtown, and they’re going to do that again this month,” Williams said. “We’re all being as creative as we can.”
In another act of creativity, “Natural Wonder,” the show originally planned to adorn gallery walls in May, has been moved online to theartspiritgallery.com.
Williams said the artists featured in the show – Sheila Evans, Mary Farrell, Gina Freuen and Laura Truitt – were more comfortable with the online arrangement as two of the artists are at-risk, and some of the artists are unable to travel to Coeur d’Alene to deliver their pieces due to stay-home orders.
On May 8, the works featured in “Natural Wonder” will be posted online and available for purchase.
Visiting the Art Spirit Gallery will look a little different, at least for the time being. As part of her preparation to reopen, Williams has brought in hand sanitizer and figured out how to complete no-contact credit card processing with no signature needed.
Williams and gallery staff would appreciate patrons wearing face masks for a few more weeks, and everyone will try to maintain social distance. She is limiting the number of customers in the shop at one time to 12 and will frequently sanitize surfaces and monitor gallery staff’s health.
“The good news is we sell a product that you look at mostly,” Williams said. “We all have the right intentions to do our very best to protect everyone, and we’re going to learn as we go.”
In June, Art Spirit Gallery will feature works by Gabriel Kulka, Doug Martindale, Kelsey Bowen and Robert Grimes. No word yet on whether this show will open with an ArtWalk. Also in June, there will be a new show at AS2, the Art Spirit Gallery’s Spokane location.
July will see works from Travis Walker, Chase Halland, Shelle Lindholm and James Tingey. In August, the gallery will showcase Michael Horswill and Allie Vogt, plus new works from the Ernest Lothar archives.
In September, the spotlight will be on Stephanie Frostad, Deborah Schwartzkopt, Julia Galloway and Laura Nuchols. In October, pieces by Mel McCuddin and Dennis Meiners will be featured.
November will see works from Evans, Farrell, Freuen and Truitt return to the Art Spirit Gallery, and in December, the gallery will feature its annual small-works invitational.
As things get back up and running, Williams is proud of how people in the region have handled coronavirus.
“People have been generally following the rules and working on behalf of their neighbors, and it is a continual reminder of how fortunate we are to all live here and to share our energy and our businesses and our kindness,” she said.
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