Monday, June 1, 2020
Galleries Get Creative During the Pandemic
“Face 2” is Judith Kindler’s 48-by-48-inch mixed media on aluminum panel.
Tuesday, May 12, 2020


Judith Kindler’s calendar in March was chock full. “Obscure,” her new mixed media exhibition of paintings on aluminum panels, was set to open in mid-March at Gail Severn Gallery in Ketchum.

She was supposed to attend Gallery Walk on March 20 and preside over an Artist Chat the following day. And she was also hosting a reception for artists involved in the Summer 2020 Wood River Valley Studio Tour that same week.

Then the roof caved in. Kindler woke up March 12 having difficulty breathing, something she’d learn later was a symptom of COVID-19. And as she went into survival mode, Idaho’s governor shut down businesses and gatherings in the Wood River Valley, including the gallery where her large-scale paintings hung.

“Old Wall,” a mixed media on canvas, is one of the works in Judith Kindler’s current exhibition at Gail Severn Gallery.

She resisted being hospitalized, talking doctors into letting her take home an oxygen tank to get oxygen to her blood and brain. She slept 18 hours a day.

“I had no energy.  I couldn’t think straight. It was a nightmare,” she said. “And what was really sad was that my big gallery show of the year had closed just as it was opening. I lost the chance for people to see some of my new experiments with cement on canvas. And I lost a big portion of my income.”

Much has been made of how restaurant owners have had to transform from white table cloths to takeout and how supermarkets have gone curbside during the coronavirus pandemic.

Sun Valley’s gallery owners and artists have had to reinvent themselves, as well.

Tom Chambers and L’anne Gilman are donating 100 percent of the sales of “Catching Koi” to The hunger Coalition.

“The first few weeks we were in shock. It was so quiet,” said L’anne Gilman, of Gilman Contemporary. “We had just hung a new exhibition with photographer Tom Chambers and, while we stayed open right until everything was ordered shut, we didn’t get any walk-in traffic.”

Sheltering in place, Gilman and her two staff employees went to work.

They created a virtual tour of the show, with each staff member discussing their favorite photographs.   They reached out to all their artists, sharing ways to get artist grants and loans. And they encouraged their artists to create videos giving collectors insights into their daily lives and studio work during their own lockdowns.

“We got creative, hanging in there,” said Gilman. “We’ve even been in touch with a company in London that has crated 3D rendering of galleries. It’s unbelievable, and it allows you to put more work on the wall.”

Judith Kindler’s “Face 1” is a 48-by-48-inch mixed media on aluminum panel.

Art inquiries and sales began to come back—some from people who have never set foot inside Gilman Contemporary.

A Gilman Contemporary App created five years ago is getting more use from people who are not able to leave their homes. The App allows clients to see the art on the gallery’s website and then virtually places it on a sample wall or even a photograph of their own wall, doing the measuring for the client.

Sun Valley photographer Josh Wells created a virtual tour, allowing viewers to walk through the gallery to peruse the art on the walls virtually by clicking on circles on the floor

And Tom Chambers collaborated with Gilman to donate 100 percent of the sale of “Catching Koi,” a 20-by-20-inch photograph, to The Hunger Coalition.

“Holey Hat 1” is Judith Kindler’s 48-by-48-inch mixed media on aluminum panel.

“His generosity was overwhelming and speaks to his caring nature and how people can really come together to find ways to help others during this difficult time,” said Gilman.

Gail Severn’s staff has kept amazingly busy updating the gallery website and data base and deep cleaning the gallery.

“We’re doing a lot of projects we always put off until spring and still sometimes don’t get to,” said Severn. “This pandemic has been so hard for all the businesses. But, while restaurants can’t make up  lost sales, we have the chance to make up for the sales we didn’t get in March or April. We just have to be optimistic.”

To that end, Severn has kept her March show up and she will continue to show some of the pieces from Judith Kindler’s exhibition this summer. She also will be able to pull out Kindler’s works for those who might have seen something they liked on social media.

“Judith has always incorporated photography and painting together but this exhibition also includes sculptures so it’s a cross-section of all the things she’s done.  The pieces seem to float off the wall so we really want to give people a chance to see them,” said Severn.

Broschofsky Galleries has been trying to keep things running “from a distance,” said John Broschofsky.

“I’m in here an hour or two each day, sending out Constant Contacts and trying to figure out what our next move is. Once in a while someone contacts me from some other part of the country looking for a particular piece. And we’re thinking about starting to open by appointment with a mask required.”

While his father handles the shop, Rudi Broschofsky weathered his own bout with COVID-19 and has since held an online sale of older works that he had cleaned out of storage. He offered 30 pieces via Instagram and sold 20. He’s also working on four commissioned pieces. But it hasn’t been seamless as he’s had trouble getting some of the art supplies he needs.

Kristin Poole is delighted that the Sun Valley Museum of Art will reopen on Monday, May 18, under Idaho's four-stage reopening plan so families can see—and, yes, play—with some of the exhibits in “Free Play,” which focuses on the importance of play.

The exhibition, was supposed to open the day everything locked down to stop the spread of the virus.

“We’ll ask everyone to wear a mask and we’ll have gloves for people to wear while playing with the art,” she said.

An exhibition on the Camas Prairie that was to have opened on May 29 will now open July 10. And the exhibition that was supposed to run this summer will run instead from mid- September to early December.

“Nothing’s been eliminated. No one’s going to miss anything. We’re just pushing the calendar out,” Poole said. “The downside is that we were hoping to open the exhibit on the Camas Prairie on the weekend the blue camas were in bloom. So, we’re going to encourage people to go out to see it that weekend.”

The staff has spent a lot of time while sheltering in place producing online content that families can do at home. One, inspired by artist Tucker Nichols’ interactive sculpture Boomtown, encourages kids to build their own sculptural cities using wooden blocks and empty cereal boxes. Another, inspired by Matt Sellars’ “Alternative Route,” challenged kids to create a mini-maze out of empty cereal boxes. Still another inspired by sculptor Isamu Noguchi’s playground models, challenged them to fill their own playgrounds with such objects as slides created by folding paper back and forth.

The staff has also put together art kits for every child pre-kindergarten to fifth grade to take home in backpacks along with books provided by the Blaine County School District. The art kit, funded by SVMoA board members, includes a watercolor kit, colored pencils, eraser, pad of paper, pencil sharpener and project ideas.

“Many of us have learned new technology and other things. And we’ve also spent a ridiculous amount of time hashing out changes and imagining scenarios and what we might need to do to adapt,” said Poole.

Gilman, like others, can’t wait to be open and seeing visitors to her gallery in person.

“It is the part of the job I enjoy most,” she said. “That said, as there are still so many unknowns about COVIDD-19, I know that these new ways of working virtually with clients will be something we continue as we move forward.”


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