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Lora Gerlach spins a piece of art that is part of an interactive exhibition at the Tiny ATH art gallery in Athens, Georgia on Friday, July 10, 2020. Lisa Freeman's "I Am" exhibition will be on display through July 19, 2020. (Photo/Taylor Gerlach; @taylormckenzie_photo)

The Lyndon House Arts Center officially announced its closure on March 18, just days after Didi Dunphy, program supervisor, canceled all spring classes and events at the center.

Dunphy said she considers the arts center lucky because before the pandemic mandated closures, Lyndon House had been able to host three events with major gatherings, including its 45th juried show which she said had roughly 600-700 people in attendance.

The juried show was extended through July after the center’s June 2 re-opening. In order to keep patrons safe, the center has implemented a mask ordinance, social distancing and hand sanitizer stations throughout the galleries. However, visitor numbers are not what they used to be, Dunphy said.

“When we re-opened it was still very tender,” Dunphy said about activity around town. “It was very quiet. A little ghost town, and people were still very nervous about being out.”

Despite the decline in gallery visitors, the arts center saw an increase in open studio membership. Lyndon House provides studios professionally equipped for different types of art projects, ranging from ceramics to printmaking. Since the studios can’t be reopened for classes, the center has opened them instead for individual artists. Dunphy said she was happy to see some people “get their creative juices going again.”

Tiny ATH Gallery in Pulaski Heights also witnessed a decline in visitors, Camille Hayes, gallery founder, said. When an exhibition opens the gallery usually draws 120-150 visitors; post-pandemic openings bring in between 30-50 people. Hayes said only four people are allowed in the gallery at one time, and those waiting to view the exhibition can remain in a socially distanced line in the parking lot.

“They can come, and for the most part you’re going to have the gallery to yourself,” Hayes said.

Tiny ATH and Lyndon House have been able to connect with visitors through social media and online content. Hayes started artist talks on Instagram Live, which allow people to connect with the artist and ask questions. She plans to continue the series after things are back to “normal.”

Dunphy said when the juried show moved online it “became like a diary” because artists were asked to share stories — which served as Facebook and Instagram captions that accompanied their work shown in the exhibition. “People love it because they saw the show in, oddly, a deeper way because they heard the artists’ voice,” she said.

This article was originally published in The Red & Black's Fall 2020 Visitors Guide.


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