Such was the case for Madaras Gallery, owned and operated by local artist Diana Madaras, when President Donald Trump delivered his speech at the March 17 Coronavirus Task Force press briefing.
The same night the president asked businesses to allow employees to work from home and limit social gatherings to no more than 10 people, Madaras sent an email to her staff to remind everyone how vital it was to keep the gallery clean. She voluntarily closed down a few days later.
Madaras said she was uncomfortable and worried for the safety of her staff and customers. She was hearing too much “scary information” about COVID-19.
That decision came with a price, however.
“We’re still doing some online business, and we’ve tried to get creative to generate revenue,” Madaras said. “It’s been a real challenge.”
Rising to the challenge, the gallery team shifted its focus to several new ventures. Madaras and her sister produce one-minute videos for YouTube, the company website now hosts free coloring pages for kids. In addition to artwork, customers can also purchase birthday gift baskets, and there’s now curb-side pickup. Customers can also take advantage of free no-contact delivery for larger canvases.
One of the most popular new programs is the virtual home visit, Madaras said. Customers can send a photo of their wall and provide a list of paintings they live or ask for suggestions based on decor. The Madaras team then edits artwork into the photos so customers can plan out their rooms.
Aside from helping customers decorate their homes during quarantine, Madaras and her team repainted the gallery and hung new art so everything is fresh and new for re-opening. They’re still waiting for guidelines from the government regarding customer safety, and Madaras said she doesn’t anticipate hosting any large events for a while.
Outside of the gallery, Madaras recently donated 600 coloring books and boxes of crayons to Tucson Unified School District for distribution in the school lunch program.
“Here are these kids that are quarantined...and they might not have coloring books and crayons at home,” Madaras said. “These are the kids that would come to school for the school lunch program. So when they came for their lunch, they got a little surprise.”
For more information, visit madarasgallery.com online or call (520) 615-3001 between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday through Friday.