For some arts organizations, figuring out how and when to reopen has been tricky.
According to New York State’s reopening guidelines, organizations that are focused on art education may have to wait until Phase 4 to open their doors, while other visual arts businesses can open in Phase 2.
That includes galleries like the Laffer Gallery in Schuylerville, which will open for the first time in nearly three months on Saturday.
“We had an opening [reception] on March 12th. We had 200 or 300 people in here and nobody thought a week later everything was going to close. It was pretty wild,” said owner Erik Laffer.
He put photos of the spring show online while the gallery was closed, he said it just wasn’t the same.
“I tried to do a virtual exhibit and get it out there as much as possible. But it’s a visual business so it’s really tricky to view artwork online,” Laffer said.
He had to cancel an exhibit that was scheduled for April but he’s been able to keep the opening date for “A Cultivated Vision,” which features works from Tracy Helgeson, Robert Moylan and Regina Wickham.
“Originally, I thought we were considered Phase 4 because that’s arts and culture,” Laffer said.
However, since the gallery sells work and also has a frame shop, Laffer said the gallery can open as part of Phase 2 of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s reopening plans, which include in-store retail.
While he won’t be able to have an opening reception on Saturday, he’s excited to at least be able to return to normal hours, albeit with a few changes. Visitors will have to wear masks and use hand sanitizer.
Though he’s not sure how many people to expect to visit on Saturday and beyond, Laffer said he has a feeling people are looking to get out of their homes and get back to a semblance of normalcy. It’s part of the reason he’s particularly looking forward to presenting “A Cultivated Vision,” a show that reflects on the natural world around us.
“This is an important opening because I just feel that art enriches lives and breaks down barriers. It’s very relevant in the world we’re living in at the moment. It cultivates conversations,” Laffer said.
The show will be open from Saturday through July 26. The gallery hours are Wednesday through Saturday from noon to 5 p.m. and The Laffer Gallery is located at 96 Broad St., Schuylerville.
Nearby, the Saratoga Clay Arts Center’s Schacht Gallery has been open by appointment only since last week. Visitors must wear masks and fill out a consent form, agreeing to follow safety guidelines while at the gallery and confirming that they don’t have any symptoms of COVID-19.
“We don’t have any set hours,” said founder Jill Fishon-Kovachick, “We’re closed to everyone except for appointment only and our tenants who are our artists.”
Having the appointment-only visitation policy allows them to easily control the number of people in the gallery.
While the rest of the Center has to remain closed until Phase 4, the gallery is a retail space as well as an exhibition space so it’s allowed to open. It’s great for exhibiting artists Bruce Dehnert and Matt Mitros, whose show, “Ergo,” first opened in March, right before the Center had to close its doors due to COVID-19.
“We posted it on Facebook and Instagram and now we have it on our online gallery so that people can purchase it. We’ve actually had some purchases through our shop. But it’s not the same,” Fishon-Kovachick said. “The artists were nice enough to keep their work here so that we are still exhibiting work. At least if somebody contacts us, we can show the work to them.”
“Ergo” has been extended through Aug. 8 to give more people a chance to view it. People can make an appointment to visit the gallery (167 Hayes Rd, Schuylerville) by reaching out to the Center online (saratogaclayarts.org) or by phone (518-581-2529).
In Schenectady, the Electric City Art Gallery opened a few weeks ago, well before most if not all galleries in the Capital Region.
Owner Joey Matula not only runs the gallery but a business supplying interior design products to essential businesses. The showroom is located right in the gallery at 160 Jay Street.
“There’s a clause in the shutdown that said if you work in design with essential businesses you’re considered essential. I supply flooring to Albany Med, Ellis Hospital . . . and a bunch of schools. So that enabled me to open,” Matula said.
Visitors have to wear masks and there can only be 16 people in the gallery space at one time so that people can social distance. Beyond that, the gallery is much the same as when Matula opened it earlier this year.
The Electric City Art Gallery features mixed media and collage work from Amy Hauer, glasswork from Jo-Anne Signod, encaustics from Amy Pressman, and more. While the business has been relatively slow since the shutdown started, Matula hopes it will pick up in the coming weeks as people start venturing out more.
The gallery is open from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Friday-Sunday and by appointment. For more information visit electriccityartgallery.com.