There are several negative ways to view a pandemic, but artist Beth Rulli prefers to think of this peculiar time as a chance for a fresh start.
As a business owner in the era of COVID-19 – she’s one of the three women behind Three Crows Gallery and Gifts – she worries about potential issues like future rent payments. But having to close the space for a couple months also provided her with an opportunity for introspection that she doesn’t have during an average spring.
“The store being closed for the time gave me time to catch up on some things and make products for the summer that will hopefully sell,” she said. “But it’s also given me time to sit and experiment and try new things … I know a lot of people have been hurt by this, but for me personally, it gave me a chance to step back and see where I wanted to go.”
The gallery reopened June 5 after being closed since mid-March, a period she used to check inventory, do a little rearranging and implement a deep clean of the floors, windows and display surfaces, giving the space a rejuvenated feel.
One of the challenges Rulli didn’t expect amid the logistics of getting back to business was deciding how the gallery’s hours should be adjusted.
“Figuring out, OK, so we’re not going to have as many summer visitors as we normally get, but what days do we want to be open?” she said was one of the first questions that needed to be answered. “I think we’ll aim for more evening hours, certainly Friday nights and artwalk nights and maybe some Sunday afternoons as weather gets warmer – people-friendly hours for people working.”
Since reopening, there’s been a noticeable dip in the number of people coming through the gallery doors, she said. There are clearly fewer people walking around downtown than a typical June – she laughed while pointing out there’s plenty of parking spots available – but the gallery has also hosted some visitors making a pit stop en route to Yellowstone National Park or other popular Wyoming vacation spots.
Visitors like this give her some hope that foot traffic will pick up, especially looking ahead to the upcoming Downtown Cheyenne Summer on the Streets sidewalk sale/community event Saturday, June 20.
“People are still kind of feeling their way economically, and when times get tight, the arts suffer,” Rulli said. “I’ve been reading articles about how art galleries are just on their knees at this point and raising funds to keep their artists going, and we feel the pinch, too.”
But then again, she remains positive, noting how (as an artist) she’s thankful for the downtime to experiment with new glass painting techniques and other creative methods.
“I’m challenging myself to come up with new things,” she said. “Right now, I’m working on some Hawaiian quilt designs on glass … and experimenting with my paints in new ways, and just refreshing myself as an artist.”