Entrepreneurial spirit is at an all-time high in Mill Valley.
And having longstanding relationships with multi-talented, famous artists is a great way to help raise money for organizations providing relief around the world amidst the COVID-19 crisis.
Those are the major takeaways from a recent conversation with Seager Gray Gallery co-owner Suzanne Gray, who has, along with her partner Donna Seager, managed to successfully navigate the economic carnage wrought by COVID-19 and the resulting shelter in place that has been effect for nearly two months.
We chatted with Gray after the gallery was among the recipients of one of the $1,000 direct cash grants via the Mill Valley Chamber’s COVID-19 MV Business Fund. In the month since the fund was launched and propelled by an avalanche of community donations, along with $15,000 from the County of Marin, the fund has raised nearly $85,000, enough to fun 85 grants, 60 of which have already been received by local businesses and nonprofits.
“The money is tremendously helpful and even more so the community spirit of our locals to support all of us here in town with our doors closed for business,” Gray says. “We feel so fortunate!”
While the support of the Mill Valley community for its local businesses and nonprofits is deeply impressive, the creativity and entrepreneurial spirit of Seager and Gray has shone brightly in recent weeks. Much like the City of Mill Valley’s efforts to speed up the Downtown Project while business activity was quiet downtown amidst the shelter in place, the gallery’s owners sped up the final phase of its floor repair.
Otherwise we are working, keeping connected with our artists and collectors virtually. Fortunately some people are still purchasing art which we have carefully handled either through and art handler or shipper.
They nimbly transitioned the gallery’s annual Art of the Book exhibit to a virtual show featuring one artist book per day throughout the month of May and into June. The exhibition is featured on the gallery’s website as well as Artsy and social media. In the end there will be a catalog available for sale.
Upon the gallery’s eventual reopening, the featured exhibit will be Emily Payne’s exhibition, Burst.
And in a move that Gray calls “an incredibly moving experience,” the gallery released the limited edition print, Viva Italia by legendary singer-turned-artist Joan Baez. “Joan was inspired by the astounding, uplifting and courageous response of the Italian people to COVID-19 and 100 percent of the proceeds will be donated via Global Giving to Foundation Specchio Dei Tempi, an organization providing relief, support and supplies to Italians suffering from the impact of COVID-19.
“It sold out right away!” Gray says, noting the the gallery successfully secured a PPP loan with the support of Bank of Marin.
“Our first priority is to be sure our artists are paid,” Gray says.
“Mostly we are missing connecting with our artists and clients in person,” she adds. “We are fortunate to be already set up to work virtually and do a lot of business that way, but it’s really the one-on-one in person conversations with our artists, collectors and friends we are missing the most.”