Mainstreet Daily News, in a collaboration with Noel Leroux, founder of Gainesville Downtown, is spotlighting downtown businesses to learn how each one is coping with the ever-evolving COVID-19 situation.
This Friday would have been the monthly Artwalk Gainesville in the downtown area. The GFAA Gallery at 1314 S. Main St. (pictured above) would've been abuzz with another opening reception. However, COVID-19 has disrupted the normal flow of activity at the gallery when so many things were looking up, according to GFAA president Sue Kelman.
"GFAA was really on a successful trajectory when COVID-19 hit - growing attendance at monthly exhibits, a great March show called 'SHE' in collaboration with Women in History Month; a growing educational component, with two major workshops in the first quarter of 2020; a concert series at the gallery; and gearing up for our 2nd Biennial National show titled 'Attending to Wonder,' which has generated hundreds of submissions from around the country," she said.
"Plans for our fourth annual Studio Tour were well underway." In mid-March, due to the pandemic, the GFAA started cancelling events and closed the gallery. To adjust to the difficult times, though, the gallery organized its first-ever online exhibition, "The Garden," involving more than 40 artists from the Gainesville Fine Arts Association. It continues through June 2nd. Katy Lemle, GFAA Gallery and Operations Director, worked tirelessly to get the exhibition online at https://www.gainesvillefinearts.org/.
The website also contains a virtual tour of "SHE" through April 25th. Viewers can purchase the original artwork from both exhibits. Meanwhile, the GFAA is trying to meet its monthly expenses with a COVID-19 fundraiser.
"We received a small challenge grant from one of regular donors, offering $1,000 if we would use it to encourage matching donations," Kelman said. "To our surprise, we received $1,300 in matching donations within one day, as well as another $1,000 donation asking us to up the matching challenge."
The GFAA is also moving ahead with its annual fundraising campaign this summer, with a target of raising $25,000. Those interested in donating to the GFAA should go to members.gainesvillefinearts.org.
Kelman added that GFAA holds a unique place in the community. "We are the only arts organization that is inclusive of anyone who wants to make art, whether they are a novice or an established artist." She added that GFAA's strategic focus going forward is three pronged --- 1. Providing creative exhibition opportunities for artists while enriching lives of artists and the community at large; 2. Providing life-long learning opportunities through workshops and classes while providing networking and mentoring opportunities among artists; 3. Outreach to more artists, creating more diversity in age, socioeconomic populations and multi-culturally.
Noel Leroux is the publisher of gainesvilledowntown.com, a website dedicated to covering all things downtown. His mission is to inform, entertain and engage readers with compelling articles about arts, entertainment, and the foodie scene in Gainesville.