Arts businesses rebound as customers worry less about pandemic

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Deep into the first quarter of 2022, arts-related businesses have seen a financial boost from patrons who believe the worst of the pandemic is behind us.

Shops, galleries and even concert halls showcasing the beauty of what art means to their lives are opening or bouncing.

April White

Cowgirls and Fairies is a new artsy brick-and-mortar shop in Williams. It is owned and operated by musician and trader April White.

April White’s 2019 album, “Violet and the Sun,” was the inspiration for a new small business she started.

The first weekend in March, she opened Cowgirls and Fairies, a whimsical, art-inspired boutique in Williams fueled by her record style and marketing career.

“I wanted it to be western-inspired because I’m in Williams, which is the cutest quintessential western town you can find. I wanted it mixed in with that more ethereal nature because I call ethereal pop ‘Violet and the Sun’,” she said.

White’s store sells framed artwork, jewelry, clothing, and soaps, among other items. She has waited until now to open a physical store as the pandemic appears to be waning and as tourism increases there is an opportunity to connect in more personal and physical ways with artistically-minded customers.

“We’ve gotten used to anything virtual, but you still want to have an experience, especially if you’re on vacation,” she said. “You walk in and you have a little adventure. You discover this place and all the things in it and walk through them.

Tom Maxedon/KJZZ

Works by some of Arizona’s more than 150 artists at the Sedona Artist Market & Gallery.

At the Sedona Artist Market & Gallery near Highway 89A, ceramist Sonia Luedke completed a purchase for a customer before talking about what the store has to offer.

Boasting more than 150 Arizona artists in all fields as well as a large supply of non-toxic art supplies, Luedke said the pandemic has actually increased customer traffic and exhibitors.

“What’s interesting is that I found out that before the pandemic we didn’t have as many artists here and not as many people buying art. After the pandemic, something clicked and people realized they wanted to be surrounded by art and beauty. They want to do things that make them feel good and maybe not focus too much on the mundane, everyday life,” she said.

Located on the west side of Sedona, the huge exhibit space acts as an additional socially distanced safety net.

“Because we have such a large space of 8,000 square feet, we were able to provide the kind of social distancing that made people feel more comfortable. People said, ‘if I can’t enjoy life now, then when?’ I did the same for me. I found myself spending more money than I normally would because I was like ‘if not now, when?’” she asked.

Linda Lindus

Linda Lindus is a landscape painter. His work, “Just Over The Next Ridge”, was inspired by a trip to the Navajo Nation in June 2021. Lindus is one of the gallery managers of The Finer Art Gallery in Cave Creek.

Down in the valley, the Cave Creek Art Gallery has seen a dramatic increase in attendance since it opened in September. It is located in a rustic building known as Cave Creek Station, shaded by a large 150-year-old tamarisk tree.

“In September, we had just over 300 people visiting the gallery. Last February, we counted more than 950 visitors. It’s per month according to gallery owner Linda Lindus, who is also a landscape painter. From his perspective, the increase in foot traffic is a sign that the arts, and the businesses that showcase them, are thriving again.

“So we can see it’s bouncing back with visitors as well as sales. Our sales have increased dramatically,” she said.

Marlene Sabatina, another director of the gallery owned by the artist, said after six months of operation, they are refreshing the way the art of more than 30 local creatives is presented.

“We like to keep it fresh,” she said. “We like people seeing something new every time they walk in. We move the walls, and when I say walls, the art goes on different walls. We organize a small lottery and the artists get a new look. We bring new art and the public has a new vision of fabulous art.

Steve Hackman conducts a symphony

Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra

Steve Hackman is a composer, conductor, producer, DJ, arranger, songwriter, singer and pianist.

Many live event venues are still struggling to reach pre-pandemic viewership levels. This includes the Phoenix Symphony. But director Tito Muñoz said this season had a good rebound despite some contestants’ reluctance to return.

“At the end of the day, living is our raison d’etre. That’s what we offer and it’s been very successful this year. We’ve had the public coming back. Of course, of course there’s apprehension among different populations, different groups of people. Everyone has their reasons for not wanting to fully engage,” Muñoz said.

Recently, the Symphony Orchestra worked with renowned conductor Steve Hackman to present a collaborative interpretation of Johannes Brahms’ ‘Symphony No. 1’ interspersed with music from Radiohead’s ‘OK Computer’ album.

As COVID-19 hospitalizations decline in Arizona, one of the industries hardest hit by the pandemic is making a comeback. While some things have changed forever, the love of the arts in the state has never wavered.

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