The county has given the green light for art galleries to reopen, along with several other non-essential businesses such as salons, and local galleries are taking a slow and steady approach to opening their doors. Galleries such as Fulton Crossing and The Upstairs Art Gallery in Healdsburg are opening with limited hours and an emphasis on social distancing, and others like the Sebastopol Center for the Arts and the Cloverdale Arts Alliance are planning to reopen mid-July, also with limited hours and stringent health guidelines in place.
Upstairs Art Gallery
The Upstairs Art Gallery in Healdsburg will be taking a similar approach and will be open with limited hours. They will be open Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekends.
The gallery is located in the upstairs section of the Levin & Company bookstore and has closer quarters than Fulton Crossing, so they have to be more careful with their hours of operation and their social distancing. Instead of hosting in-person receptions and activities, they’ll also be looking for new ways to engage with the public.
“Monday through Friday we’re open four hours … in part because a lot of the artists are of the vulnerable age and have vulnerable people in their families, people have different comfort levels of working and for some it's just too much of a risk,” said Beverly Bird, a resident artist and spokesperson for the gallery.
Bird said they’re also anticipating less visitors, however, she did say the weekends have been picking up a bit.
“We anticipate that because the hotels are now able to operate for tourists — a lot of our business is generated by the tourists — that we’re looking at having more tourists,” Bird said.
In terms of health and safety regulations, Bird said the bookstore has signage about social distancing and mask requirements and the gallery has hand sanitizer and gloves available as you enter at the top of the stairs.
She said they will offer guests gloves if they want to handle any of the jewelry or ceramics on display for sale.
The gallery will continue to do their two featured artists of the month series where one artist displays their work in the storefront window and another displays their work in a “small works showcase” on the stairway.
The July exhibit is centered around showcasing nature’s beauty and features work from local artist, Victoria A. Kochergin. The small works exhibit features a collection of abstract works by Cynthia Sumner.
“Usually we have a reception. The big difference will be that we won’t be doing a reception. We’ll see how that goes,” Bird said. “We'll probably be thinking about other ways to engage, because it’s not possible to do events with our gallery, and maintain six feet.”
Bird said during shelter in place, the gallery hosted a successful online auction fundraiser for the Redwood Empire Food Bank and raised $3,500.
“We didn’t want people to forget about us and I’m sure other galleries are in the same situation, an auction was one way to be out there and respond to the needs of the community,” Bird said.
They’ve also taken the time to strengthen their presence on social media.
“We're all struggling with working on how to figure out how to present ourselves virtually,” Bird said, noting that she’s hopeful that events like online auctions will be an effective way to engage with folks.
To keep up to date on gallery happenings, visit their website at: https://www.upstairsartgallery.net/.
Sebastopol Center for the Arts
Catherine Devriese, creative director for the Sebastopol Center for the Arts, said they’re tentatively looking at reopening the center sometime in July.
“We haven't reopened yet. We have an (upcoming) exhibit online called H20,” Devriese said.
The current online exhibit, “Pandemic Transformations,” features mixed media such as videos, photos and art, that reflect what it’s like living in the time of the coronavirus.
The H20 online exhibit will feature work that focuses on anything water related from rivers, to glaciers or even wells and aquariums. The exhibit will be online from July 11 to Aug. 20.
Devriese said they wanted to keep it consistent in terms of how they’ve been showing work.
If the gallery does reopen in mid-July, Devriese said she’d like to invite local artists who haven’t had the chance to display their work, to submit their work physically.
“It’s always nice to see work in real life,” she said.
She said she’s thinking about offering limited gallery hours perhaps on Friday, Saturday and Sunday afternoons. She’d also like to have two volunteer gallery assistants, that is if they feel comfortable working.
“I’d like our gallery assistants to feel safe,” Devriese said.
In addition to limited hours, the gallery will also implement social distancing and guests will be required to wear masks.
The center’s summer camps for kids ages 7 to 12 will also look slightly different this year and will feature both online and in-person activities.
In-person camps will be half day camps and camps, whether online or in-person, will offer either music, ceramics, fiber art, visual art and a mix of drama and art.
“We will have very strict procedures,” Devriese said. “Even in the gallery, people will wear masks, there’ll be hand sanitizers, and social distancing, (it) will be the same with summer camps.”
Students will be required to complete a pre-screen check before attending camp, temperature checks will be administered by staff each day, each group will have a designated classroom, all staff and participants in grades 6-8 will wear masks when indoors, frequent handwashing will be emphasized, playground and outdoor time will be rotated to minimize contact with groups, and restrooms and high touch surfaces will be cleaned multiple times throughout the day.
Camps start July 6.
To learn more about summer camps and exhibits, visit: https://sebarts.org/#/ms-1/1.
Cloverdale Arts Alliance
According to Cloverdale Arts Alliance Executive Director, Mark Tharrington, the current plan for the center is to reopen the gallery with a new exhibit starting July 18. There will also be modified hours of operation for Saturday and Sunday.
Details about the upcoming exhibit will be updated here as soon as we hear more information from gallery directors.
The most recent exhibits included “Impression” and “Emotion” and featured mixed media.
While locals may be able to enjoy some form of art in July, due to the virus, the center was forced to cancel its popular Friday Night Live concerts through July 31.
Concerts scheduled for Aug. 7 to Sept. 4 have not yet been cancelled according to the arts alliance website.
The alliance made the announcement online and on their Facebook page and said, “Hope that we will soon be able to return to congregating and doing things together, as a community.”
For more information about the Cloverdale Arts Alliance, visit their Facebook page or their website at: http://www.cloverdaleartsalliance.org/?fbclid=IwAR0oyaBEkum9iulgvZdE7JYF6zz0JLQfC1TnOA66njo5qj7Qdp3dujCX2uQ.
Sandy Batarseh, the gallery manager for Fulton Crossing, is calling their reopening a soft opening. The gallery, which is located on River Road between Windsor and Santa Rosa, used to be a chicken slaughterhouse and was later converted to house galleries and art studios.
“We are just open on Saturday and Sunday 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. We used to be open on Fridays, but we’re doing like a soft reopening,” Batarseh said.
Despite the limited hours, Batarseh said the artists are excited to come back and engage with the public.
“Everybody is really excited ... the artists are very enthusiastic to come back. They were always creating during this pandemic, but this gives them more motivation, more creative imagination if you will to create,” she said. “A lot of their pieces can reflect what’s going on right now in our time and so people want to come out and see.”
Batarseh said after months of being closed it was pretty busy the first weekend they reopened. She said since the gallery building is about 4,000 square feet, it makes it easy to practice safe social distancing.
“Only five or six people at a time would come in. It’s a pretty big building so it was safe, people walked in with their masks and everybody was comfortable. I think people feel like they can just go and look at art without being crammed in.” she said.
Upcoming exhibits include a tribute to the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement. Various artists from around the county and throughout the community will be submitting their work.
“With the BLM movement we’re having a handful of artists that are going to submit work that reflects that, what it means to them and the sign of the times,” she said.
The gallery is also planning on having an open studio on July 17 from 5 to 8 p.m. As per usual, masks will be required before entering and guests will be asked to practice six-feet social distancing.
“Everybody is open and eager to be engaged with the community again.” Batarseh said.
For more information about the gallery,, check out their Facebook and Instagram page, or their website at: https://www.fultoncrossing.com/.