Fine Line Art Gallery back to business after COVID lockdown

By Merna Emara
Staff Writer
memara@fortfrances.com

Ontario entered its first phase of reopening last Friday, with businesses allowed to open their doors with limited capacity.

Jean Richards, owner of Fine Line Art Gallery, said they have done well through the pandemic, whenever they were allowed to open between lockdown restrictions.

Richards said they are currently allowed three customers in at a time, but will accommodate more customers according to the guidelines set by the province in each phase of the reopening.

Richards first opened a gallery in Fort Frances in 1995. Five years later, they relocated to Mowat Avenue where they stayed for 15 years. The gallery has been on Scott Street for three years now, totalling about 27 years that Richards has been in the art business.

The gallery now has 14 members who make cards, handcrafted wooden bowls, stained glass, fuse glass acrylic painting and watercolour paintings.

Richards said the gallery was not eligible to receive any COVID-19 funding from the government.

“We managed just fine,” Richards said. “People took turns paying phone bills. We have a very flexible work schedule.”

Richards said the traffic in their current location is better than the previous one.

“The only time we have a lot of people coming in is when we do a spring show,” Richards said. “We always have a theme.”

Due to the COVID-19 restrictions in the spring of 2020 and 2021, the gallery was not able to have their spring show. However, the silent auction, where people donate items, was able to go ahead. All the proceeds from the auction go to the gallery, the Salvation Army and Bear Clan Patrol.

Richards said they may hold the spring show later in June.

Jean Richards, owner of Fine Line Art Gallery, is ready to welcome back art enthusiasts to the gallery.
– Merna Emara photo

“We also have a Christmas extravaganza where people can bring their pieces in and we charge a certain percentage and that helps carry the gallery,” Richards said. “It helps to have that extra money from these little things that we do and then we sell books for 50 cents a book. We sell a lot of books.”

Richards said they are happy to be open because it is sad not seeing the public.

“We have regular customers and I do a lot of work myself,” Richards said. “I have certain clients that if they need a card they’ll come and find me.”

Richards said the members of the galley would accommodate custom requests from the customers.

“Everybody will pretty much do it,” Richards said. “If you want a picture painted, someone will take that on.”

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