In advance of this weekend's first Virtual Gallery Hop amid COVID-19 shutdowns, Duff Lindsay calls on Short North developers to 'wake up and give back'

During a Thursday afternoon phone call, Duff Lindsay sat in his car outside his Short North gallery, where he was about to put on gloves, wrap an Adam Hernandez painting in plastic, drive to a residence on Hubbard Avenue, leave the painting on the porch, ring the doorbell and run.

“It’s a completely different way of thinking about delivering and shipping. I'm not having people come and meet me at the gallery to pick things up,” he said. “I'm offering people the option of paying with PayPal, so there's no checks exchanged or anything like that. … But going forward, I’m not really sure what to do next.”

Lindsay Gallery had more exhibitions of work by self-taught artists planned for the next few months, but Lindsay has put those on hold for now. “That might be an artist’s only show for the next year or year and a half, and to not have the up-close and personal experience of having people coming out and seeing the art in the gallery and having interaction with the artist… it would really be unfair to them,” he said. “I'm considering the option of an online mini show of an artist's work, or a mini show of individual pieces by four or five of my regular gallery artists." 

In the short term, Lindsay is fulfilling previous orders placed as a result of Adam Hernandez’s “Only Bangers” show, and this weekend he’ll take part in the Short North’s first attempt at a Virtual Gallery Hop, which will start at 4 p.m. on Saturday, April 4, via the Short North Arts District Instagram account. According to the Short North Alliance, the online version of the popular monthly event (a no-go amid Gov. Mike DeWine’s current stay-at-home order) will offer looks at artists currently showing work at galleries, along with features on retailers and a few livestream performances.

Lindsay, for one, will show short virtual walk-throughs featuring Hernandez’s paintings, and possibly some videos featuring the artist at work. But he won’t be streaming live from the gallery. “I don't want to give the impression that I should be out and in my gallery on Saturday night,” he said. “I think that sends the wrong message.”

As the shutdown stretches on, Lindsay is less concerned about his own livelihood. “I've been in business for a long time. I'm going to survive this,” he said. “I’m more worried about some of my artists who really rely on the sales that I generate for them. I worry in the same way that I worry about my friends that work in the service industry.”

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To aid those artists, Lindsay is calling on real estate developers and other Short North investors to “think long and hard” about how they can help during this crisis. “Why is the Short North so successful? Why has it grown the way it has? Well, it's because of the galleries and visionaries like Sandy Wood and the Wood Companies. That's what built the Short North. And now the people that are cashing in on that — the developers, the property owners — they need to acknowledge that they didn't do this. We did this. And it's time for them to step up and support the galleries. Take a look at this online Gallery Hop, go to galleries’ websites and buy something,” Lindsay said.

“I always think of the board of the Short North Alliance," he continued. "I looked down the list of those members, and these people, they've never been in my gallery. If they are portraying themselves as a supporter of the Short North Arts District, then it's time to step up and buy art from art galleries and support it. … Or buy some clothing from Maren Roth down at Rowe, buy some stuff at Tigertree, because they've been paying rent every month religiously for years. It’s time to wake up and give back.”

Lindsay fears that the Virtual Gallery Hop will likely be the first of several, but while it’s not the same as visiting a gallery in person, it’s at least one way to put art in front of people and remind them that even if the gallerists and artists can’t welcome in-person visitors, they're still here. “As gallery owners, we wouldn't be doing this if we didn't believe that art is enriching to people's lives,” Lindsay said, “and I think we're gonna need some enrichment in our lives for the next few months.”