Following the suspension of Scottsdale Gallery Association’s weekly Thursday night ArtWalk series through April 16, many of the Arts District galleries have followed suit and closed their doors.
The galleries are still open for business via online sales, private appointments and even home visits.
“We made the decision this week to be closed, but we are still here working,” said Deb Neal, co-owner of Territorial Indian Arts & Antiques with husband Alston Neal.
“There is no traffic at all on Main Street, which is safe, I guess,” she added.
French Thompson also made the decision to close his jewelry gallery, French Designer Jeweler, for at least two weeks starting the week of March 23.
“I was hoping that either the President, the Arizona governor or the mayor of Scottsdale would issue a request for all non-essential businesses to close for a time period, Thompson said.
“My thinking was that if everyone was to quarantine all at the same time, we all would be better off than if people do it and others did not do it. Since that is not happening, we are doing it voluntarily.”
According to Thompson, SGA president, the April Art and Chocolate Gold Palette ArtWalk also is postponed indefinitely.
With no weekly ArtWalks and no usual springtime crowds, galleries are losing money.
“The economic impact is unfathomable, as most galleries are ma-and-pa businesses with no cushion,” Alston said.
The Marshall Gallery co-owner Peter Strub added that they’ve seen a “sharp drop-off of traffic and sales.”
“It happened overnight at the height of our season,” he said.
Online sales are now more important than ever.
“We are working diligently on our website, where shopping is available 24/7,” Alston said, adding that they also offer virtual tours of their gallery online.
Besides the galleries, the artists they represent also rely on online sales.
“Artists depend on the sales of work,” Strub said. “Abrupt truncation is devastating, as they are self-employed without unemployment insurance. In order to support artists, interested parties should continue to shop online.”
To help sales, the Marshall Gallery is offering 10 percent off any art purchase until May 1.
Though the Marshall Gallery canceled its robust lineup of in-gallery spring events, including their concert series, Strub said the gallery is still open for business “unless directed otherwise by authorities.”
“We have a large space. We take care and wipe down surfaces many times a day. We practice social distancing. We remain available to serve the community’s cultural needs and market our artists’ work,” he added.
The Marshall Gallery guests can either make appointments for private showings and virtual tours or set up a time for Strub or co-owner DeeAn Gillespie to bring art to clients’ homes.
“We’re here to serve,” Strub said. “Anyone wanting a private Skype or FaceTime virtual tour should just call us, and we’ll arrange it.”
Royse Contemporary owner Nicole Royse said she is also happy to bring art to clients.
“The coronavirus has impacted foot traffic greatly, which therefore has decreased sales as my business relies heavily on patrons viewing the artwork in person before purchasing,” Royse said.
Open by appointment only, the gallery currently features the work of Marilyn Szabo and Cam DeCaussin in an exhibition entitled “Midcentury in the Desert.”
Royse said she increased gallery cleanings and postponed all receptions until April.
“It will be incredibly challenging,” she said of staying afloat. “The best thing people can continue to do is support small local businesses during this challenging time and buy art.”
French Designer Jeweler will continue to virtually host the Ring Invitational, a month-long showcase of high-end rings designed and created by artists all over the country and internationally, as well.
“We have a wonderful online presence and have both photos and videos of the rings in our Invitational Ring show,” Thompson said.
“Our website is a beautiful representation of the jewelry we have here in the gallery, and everything in our gallery has a presence on the website,” he added. “We just had a phone call from out of state ordering an item that was on the website.”
Thompson said, for now, he and his staff will continue to take turns working in the gallery.
“We will be here in the gallery for phone calls and deliveries. My employee and I will rotate days on and days away, so we are not here at the time with the potential of spreading it between us,” he said.
Much like Royse Contemporary, Territorial Indian Arts & Antiques, and the Marshall Gallery, French Designer Jeweler is also following World Health Organization and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, including following the proper sanitizing and hand-washing protocol.
Thompson and his team are also cleaning the cases and jewelry after they are handled.
“If we had to close for a month, we can weather through as our business had had to deal with the recession and are still here and welcoming business,” Thompson said. “We will concentrate on promoting our online presence and see if we can supplement with online sales.”
Over at the Marshall Gallery, Strub said they do not allow usage of their bathroom and often sanitize all surfaces and shared objects such as pens.
“Culture and the arts are such a vital part of a thriving, healthy community. We continue to be committed to serving our public and ensuring our community of artists and patrons have access to their cultural lifeblood,” Strub said.