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Menlo Park gallerist goes rogue, opens doors to visitors amidst shutdown

'Art can only be seen in person,' says owner Katharina Powers

Update: After visits from the Menlo Park Police Department, Art Ventures Gallery owner Katharina Power has closed her downtown space until shelter-in-place orders are eased up after receiving warnings from the agency. Read the story here.

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A Menlo Park art gallery owner is pushing back against the nonessential business shutdown, declaring that art is essential and opening gallery doors for visitors.

Art Ventures Gallery, located at 888 Santa Cruz Ave., is set to reopen Tuesday, May 5, with rules in place to minimize the risk of the spread of the new coronavirus. The gallery was also open on Saturday, May 3, Powers said.

Visitors will be expected to wear masks and maintain 12 feet of space between themselves and others. The number of visitors inside at a time will be restricted to two or three, according to owner Katharina Powers.

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She said she believes that art galleries should be classified as essential businesses, and not subjected to forced closures by the state and region's shutdown orders.

"Today's misguided interpretation of what is 'Essential' really is a disservice for every artist that has created art through history," she wrote in a press release.

Galleries with few visitors can also be less crowded and potentially safer than grocery stores, she argued in a letter she sent to California Gov. Gavin Newsom about two weeks ago, she said in an interview. She didn't get a response.

She said she sees opening the gallery's doors right now as a way to serve the community, offering socially distanced, masked locals something to do to take their minds off of the pandemic between the grocery store and home.

"It's great to look at art. It gets you in a different mindset, a different spirit. It calms you down and takes away your stress and anxiety," she said. "I'm concerned about the anxiety out there."

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So far, nobody's been much in the mood to buy art during the pandemic, she said, but ultimately, her gallery will need to make sales to survive.

In this struggle, though, she's not alone among local retailers. For instance, she said, some other Santa Cruz Avenue businesses are furniture stores that have been ordered to remain shuttered through May.

"I don't understand why they can't open by appointment," she said.

And while many museums around the world have pivoted to offering virtual art viewings, Powers said that's not what she wants. "Art can only be seen in person," she said. Falling in love with a piece requires an in-person experience with art, she added.

"I don't want people to just be on-screen all day long. It's messing up their brains," she said.

Find comprehensive coverage of the Midpeninsula's response to the new coronavirus by Palo Alto Online, the Mountain View Voice and the Almanac here.

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Kate writes for The Almanac, the sister publication of PaloAltoOnline.com.

Kate Bradshaw
   
Kate Bradshaw reports food news and feature stories all over the Peninsula, from south of San Francisco to north of San José. Since she began working with Embarcadero Media in 2015, she's reported on everything from Menlo Park's City Hall politics to Mountain View's education system. She has won awards from the California News Publishers Association for her coverage of local government, elections and land use reporting. Read more >>

Follow Palo Alto Online and the Palo Alto Weekly on Twitter @paloaltoweekly, Facebook and on Instagram @paloaltoonline for breaking news, local events, photos, videos and more.

Menlo Park gallerist goes rogue, opens doors to visitors amidst shutdown

'Art can only be seen in person,' says owner Katharina Powers

by / Almanac

Uploaded: Tue, May 5, 2020, 1:59 pm
Updated: Thu, May 7, 2020, 3:24 pm

Update: After visits from the Menlo Park Police Department, Art Ventures Gallery owner Katharina Power has closed her downtown space until shelter-in-place orders are eased up after receiving warnings from the agency. Read the story here.

---

A Menlo Park art gallery owner is pushing back against the nonessential business shutdown, declaring that art is essential and opening gallery doors for visitors.

Art Ventures Gallery, located at 888 Santa Cruz Ave., is set to reopen Tuesday, May 5, with rules in place to minimize the risk of the spread of the new coronavirus. The gallery was also open on Saturday, May 3, Powers said.

Visitors will be expected to wear masks and maintain 12 feet of space between themselves and others. The number of visitors inside at a time will be restricted to two or three, according to owner Katharina Powers.

She said she believes that art galleries should be classified as essential businesses, and not subjected to forced closures by the state and region's shutdown orders.

"Today's misguided interpretation of what is 'Essential' really is a disservice for every artist that has created art through history," she wrote in a press release.

Galleries with few visitors can also be less crowded and potentially safer than grocery stores, she argued in a letter she sent to California Gov. Gavin Newsom about two weeks ago, she said in an interview. She didn't get a response.

She said she sees opening the gallery's doors right now as a way to serve the community, offering socially distanced, masked locals something to do to take their minds off of the pandemic between the grocery store and home.

"It's great to look at art. It gets you in a different mindset, a different spirit. It calms you down and takes away your stress and anxiety," she said. "I'm concerned about the anxiety out there."

So far, nobody's been much in the mood to buy art during the pandemic, she said, but ultimately, her gallery will need to make sales to survive.

In this struggle, though, she's not alone among local retailers. For instance, she said, some other Santa Cruz Avenue businesses are furniture stores that have been ordered to remain shuttered through May.

"I don't understand why they can't open by appointment," she said.

And while many museums around the world have pivoted to offering virtual art viewings, Powers said that's not what she wants. "Art can only be seen in person," she said. Falling in love with a piece requires an in-person experience with art, she added.

"I don't want people to just be on-screen all day long. It's messing up their brains," she said.

Find comprehensive coverage of the Midpeninsula's response to the new coronavirus by Palo Alto Online, the Mountain View Voice and the Almanac here.

Kate writes for The Almanac, the sister publication of PaloAltoOnline.com.

Comments

white privilege
Downtown North
on May 5, 2020 at 2:06 pm
white privilege, Downtown North
on May 5, 2020 at 2:06 pm

She thinks she deserves special treatment? Everyone is hurting these days, but the pain is saving lives by helping to slow the spread of a deadly and incurable disease. Wouldn't it be ironic if she caught COVID-19 while in prison for her crime?


Permanently closed for me now
Adobe-Meadow
on May 5, 2020 at 3:03 pm
Permanently closed for me now, Adobe-Meadow
on May 5, 2020 at 3:03 pm

[Portion removed.] She thinks she gets to determine what is essential and then do what she wants despite the sacrifices of everyone else? I will never set foot in her gallery ever again.


Small Business Owner
Adobe-Meadow
on May 5, 2020 at 3:07 pm
Small Business Owner, Adobe-Meadow
on May 5, 2020 at 3:07 pm

Good for her! I applaud and approve.


PA Citizen
Barron Park
on May 5, 2020 at 3:34 pm
PA Citizen , Barron Park
on May 5, 2020 at 3:34 pm
Such a selfish person
Greater Miranda
on May 5, 2020 at 3:39 pm
Such a selfish person, Greater Miranda
on May 5, 2020 at 3:39 pm
Don’t be scared!
Mountain View
on May 5, 2020 at 4:01 pm
Don’t be scared!, Mountain View
on May 5, 2020 at 4:01 pm

Good for her, I applaud her and will definitely be stopping by. Not sure I can afford her art but def want to support.

The overreach of this SIP is beyond common sense. The fear so many have is extremely concerning. The numbers do not support the fears and/or the amount of businesses that are shut.

Why is it Ok for people to stand in line at ACE but not go thru her gallery spaced 12ft apart? [Portion removed.]


Don't be stupid!
Mountain View
on May 5, 2020 at 4:11 pm
Don't be stupid!, Mountain View
on May 5, 2020 at 4:11 pm

[Portion removed.] How many times do you need to be told that COVID-19 is NOT like the flu, and that social distancing actually works?


Don’t be scared!
Mountain View
on May 5, 2020 at 4:19 pm
Don’t be scared!, Mountain View
on May 5, 2020 at 4:19 pm
JHC
Atherton
on May 6, 2020 at 10:57 am
JHC, Atherton
on May 6, 2020 at 10:57 am

In my opinion, this is a very unwise, and illegal, choice. I simply do not understand it, and I believe it is very reckless. I would not patronize this establishment.


Duveneck
Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 6, 2020 at 11:50 am
Duveneck, Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 6, 2020 at 11:50 am

Sometimes the welfare for all should not take precedence over the self-serving decisions of one. I will not go to Art Ventures.


Duveneck
Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 6, 2020 at 11:52 am
Duveneck, Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 6, 2020 at 11:52 am


CORRECTED...

Sometimes the welfare for all SHOULD take precedence over the self-serving decisions of one. I will not shop at Art Ventures.


Midtown Local
Midtown
on May 6, 2020 at 2:19 pm
Midtown Local, Midtown
on May 6, 2020 at 2:19 pm

New rules are coming out tomorrow and many businesses will be able to reopen Friday under guidelines to keep people safe. This business owner could have waited one more week and been in sync with the law. Instead she chose to flout it. She undermines the "all in this together" spirit that helps us get through difficult times.

If we don't necessarily agree with each and every part of the regulations, do we take it upon ourselves to ignore the ones we don't like, or do we put up with them until they can be changed?


Gethin
Midtown
on May 6, 2020 at 2:22 pm
Gethin, Midtown
on May 6, 2020 at 2:22 pm

A terrible example on how to support a community and a perfect example of privileged pretentious self serving egotism. I will not go to her store any more.


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