Behind the Scenes During the Pandemic


News travels slowly in Vermont.  News of the oncoming Covid-19 Pandemic rolled into Vermont’s winter wonderland of ice and snow with less fanfare than elsewhere, or so it seemed. The Gallery was about to open for its Winter Season March 6, and with a full exhibition and workshop schedule to launch, the Pandemic was background noise to the Gallery’s momentum.

Annelein Beukenkamp, "Solitude", watercolor 20x26
Annelein Beukenkamp, “Solitude”, watercolor 20×26

Besides, it was that time of year for the annual arrival of artists in Jeffersonville from around the world (Russia, Italy, Nova Scotia, all across the US – well, some of the world).  The Gallery staff looked forward to providing a dinner on Sunday, a lecture on Wednesday and safe harbor from the weather if it turned dramatic for those painting en plein air.

It was only when some of the artists left to return to their homes before the dinner was served that we realized no ordinary snow day was about to interrupt winter’s reverie.  By March 19, the staff closed its doors, bid each other a fond adieu “for a week or two” and went home to “work from home.”  11 weeks later, some of us are still working from home.

11 weeks later, given the blessing of the State of Vermont, Bryan Memorial Gallery is about to re-open.  Strict Guidelines from the State have been studied, procedural signs posted, wipes and masks purchased, and at all times, distance maintained.

It’s hard to remember back to what we didn’t know about Zoom.  Having become the delivery system of choice, it is the preferred and only method for board, staff and committee meetings to take place.  There are days when we wonder if we’ll ever be in the same room again, and then days when we wallow in the receipt of grants and gifts that support the Gallery in making the future possible.  Full speed ahead.

The Gallery’s artists have been a most flexible cadre, delivering paintings for the upcoming shows while masked and moving fast.  The Gallery’s Staff has been its imaginative best, creating coloring book pages, Home Schooling about Schools of artists, and selling more art on line than we sold in the same time frame last year in person.  The Gallery’s Board has realized every opportunity – the need for computer upgrades so we can work from home, the revision of the By-Laws, reworking the Board’s committee structure.  We’re laying the groundwork for collaborating with other institutions on future projects, while at the same time reflecting on the richness of our cultural heritage in our colorful corner of Vermont.

Some harsh realities have hit as well: a few colleagues got the virus (and recovered;) we haven’t seen much art for months; some terrific plans had to be scrapped, and our executive director, being of the “vulnerable population” is still at home.  But the rest of the staff has re-grouped behind the scenes and behind the masks, and on June 4, the doors of the gallery will re-open.

At times like this gratitude weaves us together in the name of art, for our fellow artists and friends and guests and for future paintings as yet to be painted. We hope you have weathered it too.  May you be safe and well.