Despite the lack of social events caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, local businesses in Salt Lake City are devising ways to keep companies afloat — while also providing a sense of normalcy to their customers.
The Paint Mixer, a social art studio, hosted a wine and paint night titled, “Fire Sun.” The event was held at the Salt Lake City studio, located four blocks from Westminster College and directly across from Sugar House Park.
Public health protocols and socialization with alcohol is a concern — especially as distancing and mask-wearing can be thrown out the window — but the safety measures practiced by The Paint Mixer work to facilitate an experience that adheres to COVID-19 safety protocols.
During the classes, participants follow along as an instructor demonstrates a specific painting. The participants, who are all 21 years old and older, can order up to two alcoholic drinks from the bar located inside the studio.
At the start of Friday evening’s class, Brenda Hattingh, artist and instructor for the event, demonstrated safety measures for the class to follow, such as only lowering masks to take a sip, then immediately pulling them back up.
“It’s about owning the space, saying, ‘These are our rules,’ not just, ‘Do you mind?’” Hattingh said.
Normally, the studio can seat 45 people. But during the pandemic, classes and events are limited to 15 people.
To ensure social distancing, seating arrangements are made to maintain a six-foot distance between groups.
The business adjusted cleaning measures, sanitizing brush handles, cups and aprons between each use. The studio also kept the door open for air circulation.
The Paint Mixer holds classes and events regularly at their Salt Lake City studio, Park City location and, to accommodate the pandemic, through virtual classes.
“COVID has actually […] positively affected the business,” Hattingh said. “We had never tried virtual events, and they’ve been awesome […] Even after COVID I think that’ll continue. It’s just something we never would’ve done in the past.”
Events are also held in other locations like The Westerner, a bar in West Valley City. At the Westerner, participants can order food and drinks directly from the bar. Since they are ordering from the bar and not The Paint Mixer, the normal two-drink maximum does not apply.
Shannon Crowley, 38, and Bill Crowley, 39, two other participants, both said they felt safe with the set-up and number of people at the event.
“We did one of these at the Park City location four years ago, and I got an email about this class and I loved the picture that we were painting,” Shannon Crowley said.
“It’s a good time, I’m not a painter,” Bill Crowley said, “but the people putting it on always treat you right.”
The Paint Mixer’s classes are open to all, no matter what experience level. Instructors encourage participants to relax and not expect perfection.
“It’s very relaxing,” said Wendy Macis, 50, who attended the event to celebrate her birthday. “It’s nice to kind of let go and not be so exact about things.”
The classes somewhat restored a sense of normalcy for participants, who said they didn’t feel as if they were risking anything to participate.
“I felt very safe, Macis said. “Everybody was apart.”