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Long-time Palmer gallery to close its doors

Shane Lamb estimates he lost 90% of his business because of the coronavirus pandemic
Shane Lamb will close his Palmer gallery after 30 years in business after a devastating loss in sales because of the pandemic.
Shane Lamb will close his Palmer gallery after 30 years in business after a devastating loss in sales because of the pandemic.(Heather Hintze)
Published: Sep. 30, 2020 at 3:35 PM AKDT
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PALMER, Alaska (KTUU) -The coronavirus pandemic has forced one Palmer small business to close its doors after a devastating loss in sales.

For 30 years, Shane Lamb has showcased his paintings and photographs at his gallery in Palmer. He’s found inspiration in the majesty of the Matanuska Valley and the surrounding area.

“It’s just some of the prettiest area in the entire state,” Lamb said as he showed off a photo of a red and green aurora over the frosty waters of the Matanuska River.

The walls of the gallery are covered with photographs printed on shiny aluminum. The pictures of iconic Alaskan animals, like lynx and polar bear cubs, and mountain scenes like Denali are usually a big hit with tourists.

Lamb’s gallery also carries work from about 50 other artists from around the state.

The pandemic took its toll when travelers stopped coming to Alaska.

Lamb estimates he lost 90% of his business this year. His stimulus money from the federal Paycheck Protection Program ran out months ago and Congress hasn’t passed a second round of funding.

He was hoping to make it through the Christmas season. Then he got a notice that all of the holiday market shows at the Dena’ina Center in Anchorage were canceled.

Without additional help, Lamb said he decided to close his business.

“I put it off as long as I could but I’ve been doing this for 30 years and it’s easy to do the math and it will bleed you dry if you keep it going,” Lamb said.

He posted an announcement on his company’s Facebook page and was moved by the responses he received.

“It’s been emotional reading people’s posts of how sorry they were that this was happening. So many people posted pictures of the pictures they have in their houses on the walls and I just have to say that really touched my heart,” he said.

Susan and Kevin Foster from Willow are long-time customers who own several Shane Lamb paintings.

“He brings to life what this area holds for everyone,” Susan Foster said.

Kevin Foster has had his eye on a three-paneled scene of birch trees for years and decided to splurge on the larger metal prints for their home. Susan Foster stocked up on paintings for her family. She said they’re sad to see the gallery close.

“It’s so unfair because he does beautiful work,” she said.

Lamb said it’s difficult to make a living as an artist but he’s felt lifted up by the community’s support. He hopes his remaining pieces go to good homes as he figures out the next chapter in his life.

Lamb plans to keep his Three Bears Gallery in Denali National Park but that will only be open in the summer.

The last day of business for his Palmer gallery is Oct. 24.

Copyright 2020 KTUU. All rights reserved.

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