March 14th, 2021
One year ago, we closed for Covid-19: Sunday, March 15th, 2020.
Just two nights earlier, we had hosted a celebratory artist reception for R. Nelson Parrish and Nina Tichava. Although we eventually found homes for nearly every work of art in the show, it felt like a tragedy to have to close down with such beautiful art on our walls. We had no idea how much tragedy the world would face, how many lives would be lost, through the horrible devastation this virus has brought to our planet. Deer Valley and Park City Mountain Resort soon closed as well, and then shop by shop Main Street went dark — as the City eventually ordered non-essential business to shutter.
It was time to pivot… to bring artwork to you!
With so much uncertainty, we were all a little scared of what challenges were ahead; but with purpose and strategy, we moved forward day by day with our artists’ interests at front of mind. Keeping the gallery operating, although closed to the public, was a part of our success. We never took a day off; and rather, we doubled down and asked our artists to do the same with the hopes that this would pass, soon. The artwork and creative energy that came out of this time will forever be a part of our journey! We could not have made it without the support of our friend and collectors, and the constant inspiration from our artists. And we recognize that we are some of the lucky, privileged ones; we are grateful to have our livelihood intact, and devastated by the increased inequality this pandemic has brought to our most vulnerable.
Through the six week closure, Gallery MAR was staffed daily from 10-5 and we still did business as best we could: online, through FaceTime and email, and using Photoshop to try out artwork on approval in our clients’ homes. It’s amazing: UPS never stops and the bills keep coming. We paid our employees for full time work, and endeavored to connect artwork with our collectors, in any way that we could. I’m so grateful to our staffers Eileen and Victoria for sticking with us, putting in the hard work, and making so many accommodations to their lives in order to keep the gallery going. With all of our protocols in place, the gallery has never been more sanitary!
But it wasn’t all a challenge. More time at home meant more time with family, more time for yoga, and more time out in nature. Connecting with friends via Zoom and making art. My husband baked bread and we cooked every night. Real cocktails and cakes were made and enjoyed. When the four Mullins were diagnosed in April with our own cases of Covid-19, we quarantined — and put our children to bed to bed every night for two weeks straight! Now back to business and busy-ness, there is a part of us that longs for the quarantine times. Ending each day art 5 pm and focusing on family felt pretty sweet.
On the local-front, I worked with our City and Chamber on the county-wide plan to begin to open back up retail businesses. What an awesome challenge and a way to connect with our community that was. We are proud of the work that we did to bring guidelines to our town, and how safe our town has become. Park City Municipal has led the way with sanitation stations everywhere, and specific rules for re-opening: we have Stayed Safe to Stay Open.
The City required masks for all public areas where social distancing is not possible and in all businesses starting May 1st, which allowed us to safely open back up for, and helped to make our guests and staff feel safer too. We even printed custom masks for an exhibition in November for Bridgette Meinhold and R. Nelson Parrish; every buyer went home with a work of art, and a mask to match. Thank you for wearing your masks!
When opening day came, we propped open our front doors as if they had never closed — and had a marvelous rest of the 2020 year for sales. We also felt a renewed closeness with our community, having weathered the Covid storm together.
A challenging year? Yes. But also full of opportunity and growth. A few of the more cheerful moments that we enjoyed:
We created and sold artful handbags to raise money for the the Park City Community Foundation’s Covid-19 Response Fund. See the Park Record article here.
We shopped local and blogged about how to support local business — instead of Amazon.
We partook in the Art of Isolation Challenge and dressed up as our favorite paintings.
We brought new methods of buying art online in the gallery and abroad.
We encouraged ways to support artists during Covid-19, and shared our artists’ own journeys through this challenging time.
And we learned how to make a perfectly-balanced gin and tonic!