Jordan Blanton, co-owner of Lemieux galleries on Julia Street in New Orleans, responded to the pandemic like most business-owners: by preparing for the worst and hoping for the best. For an art gallery, this meant trying to replicate the unique ambiance of dozens of pieces on a less-than-flattering medium – the computer screen. Since Lemieux’s transition to cyberspace, the gallery has been running relatively successful online art exhibits and weathering the pandemic one step at a time.
Before COVID-19, Lemieux had no trouble enticing people to walk in and have a look around. Lemieux features an eclectic collection of local work that both tourists and native New Orleanians have enjoyed for 35 years. Once inside, passersby often turn into customers after noticing the wide berth of artistic styles being sold at a wide range of prices.
Although, no business model is well equipped to deal with an unprecedented global pandemic. Their sales have dipped, naturally, but they’ve found solace in the local art community, “… you just have to stay optimistic and you have to just keep working at it… I don’t know what six months will bring,” says Blanton. She remains proud of Lemieux’s local focus, with regards to representing New Orleans artists, and the benefits of that kind of involvement. Blanton frequently conferences with the other gallery owners in the area – it seems they’re developing a sort of herd immunity to the ramifications of Coronavirus. The spirit of Lemieux is still intact.
Lemieux has already started reopening in accordance with recommended health guidelines. Patrons are being asked to wear masks while visiting and appointments can be scheduled to purchase the items on display. This isn’t the vision Blanton had for her five-year anniversary of owning the gallery, which will take place on July 1st, but she remains excited about what is to come. “… it feels a little bit like starting over, but maybe we’re lucky … we are still kind of new at this. So, you know, it wasn’t that long ago that we did start fresh,” says Blanton.