Open Studio Tour: A sneak peek of the open doors to art studios

dhinshaw@thestate.comMarch 29, 2014 

  • If you go

    Open Studios

    When: 10- a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, April 5, and noon to 6 p.m. Sunday, April 6

    Where: Open Studios is a free, self-driving tour of participating visual artists’ studios across Richland and Lexington counties.

    Reach: In its first three years, Open Studios produced 20,000 visits and generated more than $75,000 in artwork sales.


    Sheldon Paschal of 701 Center for Contemporary Art suggests ways to make a day of the event. Guidebooks available at 701 Whaley St., around town, or at

    Route 1: Downtown-North Main-Vista

    Start: Have a duck confit sandwich and a honey-habanero latte at Drip on Main. If it’s a Saturday, hit Soda City Market’s food vendors on Main at Hampton.

    First: Studios in the Arcade on Main Street for Bonnie Goldberg, Whitney LeJeune, Martha Thomas and Lindsay Wiggins. Continue to Cindy Saad at Tapp’s Arts Center, Russell Jeffcoat near the historic district, Howard Hunt up North Main and Diane Gilbert in Laurel Hill.

    Refuel: Good Life Café raw food & juice bar on Main Street across from the Nickelodeon.

    Next: Painter Laura Spong at Vista Studios on Lady, followed by Clark Ellefson’s new studio and the glassworks next door at One Eared Cow Glass on Huger Street.

    Then: 701 Center for Contemporary Art to meet the artist in residence, Charleston millinery artist Leigh Magar of Magar Hatworks and Madame Magar, whose celebrity clientele have included Eartha Kitt and Gregory Hines.

    Dinner: In the Vista. Places like Blue Marlin and Motor Supply Co. Bistro are open on Sunday evenings.

    Route 2: Rosewood-Shandon-Five Points-Garners Ferry-Forest Acres

    Start: Healthy brunch of local grits and eggs at Rosewood Market & Deli

    First: Hit Rosewood and stop by the studios of woodworker/painter Patrick Mahoney and clay/porcelain artist Jane Schwantes. Drive through neighboring Shandon to visit Jean Capalbo, Nora Floyd & Ruth Bayard and Ellen Emerson Yaghjian. From there, see Nancy Butterworth and Mary Gilkerson in Five Points.

    Coffee and treat: The Gourmet Shop on Saluda or Silver Spoon Bakery on Devine.

    Next: Millwood Avenue for Studio Carlisle, with Chappy Manning, Julia Moore, Page Morris, Kevin Smith and Marian Soule. Viridian Gallery & Studio, next door, features artists Regina Moody, Nini Ward, Carey Weathers and Charlene Wells. Great cluster.

    Fuel up: Grab a picnic at Earth Fare or Whole Foods and head to Woodlands Park, behind the VA Hospital. Next to the park, see how Betty Evans and Carolyn F. Ramsay make glass beads by hand.

    Then: King’s Grant and visit the studio of painter and custom flooring designer Patrick Parise.

    From there: go to Forest Acres to visit Mary Ann Haven, Michael Donkle, Curran Stone, Alicia Leeke, Carol Pittman, Christian Thee, Jan Swanson and Lyssa Harvey. Thee’s lakefront house is popular for its secret doors and trompe l’oeil wall murals; Stone’s studio is home to his custom auto art business; and Harvey’s studio is also an art therapy practice.

    Finish: Dinner at Rosso Trattoria in Trenholm Plaza, either indoors or on the patio.

    Route 3: West Columbia-Chapin-Irmo

    Start: State Street in West Columbia is brunch central. Start at Café Strudel for their brunch or lunch, or hit 116 State for its Sunday brunch. On the other end of State Street in Cayce, 2108 State serves brunch on Saturdays and has killer burgers.

    First: Just up Frink Street, you’ll find the large, intriguing indoor-outdoor sculpture and ceramics studio of John & Venetia Sharpe. Farther out, find painter and jewelry maker Renea Eshleman, then loop back in to visit painter Lisa Strally.

    Next: Jump on Sunset and drive down beautiful Corley Mill Road to see portraitist Mary Lynn Williams, then hop on the 26 to Irmo, where Tim Floyd will demo his beeswax-based encaustic painting process.

    From there: Lake Murray Country, where Ruby Haydock-DeLoach and Judy Bolton Jarrett work in their Chapin studios.

    Finish: Slip over to Liberty on the Lake restaurant at Marina Bay to catch the sunset over a waterfront dinner on the deck.

The 701 Center for Contemporary Art has lined up 45 artists willing to open their private studios next weekend – so many that we took the liberty of picking 10 “can’t miss” addresses, just to give explorers an idea of the diversity of offerings.

Need a full listing and map? See

Clark Ellefson

A decade in the making, Ellefson has finally finished his home and studio at 1001 Huger St. in the Vista, a neighborhood he calls The New Frontier.

He’s looking forward to showing off his live/work space as much as his latest artwork.

“It has a light industrial feel, mixed in with a modern style and Bohemian spirit,” he said. “I call my house Bohemian modern. Isn’t it catchy?”

As for his art, Ellefson has been working on new designs for his trademark lamps. He’s also got some fun robots and robot heads.

Nora Floyd & Ruth Bayard

The longtime friends create handbags, necklaces and earrings using vintage materials they pick up at flea markets and antique malls. They especially love Cracker Jack charms.

“We have tons of stuff,” Bayard said. “We’re both military kids and our mothers spent our childhood throwing out everything. We have it all now; it’s all back.”

Their workshop and studio, A Checkered Past, is at 2930 Devine St. in Columbia, right behind Momo’s restaurant.

Mary Gilkerson

For 20 years, she has worked in a second-floor studio at 2065 Blossom St., overlooking Harden Street in Five Points.

Gilkerson said it’s got good vibes, with a Buddhist center next door, familiar shopkeepers nearby and connection to Columbia’s favorite sons, Hootie & The Blowfish.

In the run-up to Open Studios, Gilkerson has been doing a series of daily paintings of local landscapes. “Every now and then, a still life will creep in,” she said, “but mostly landscapes.” From the small pieces, she’ll develop larger ones – paintings of places that will be familiar in experience, if not detail.

Patrick Mahoney

His whole house is a studio, with different rooms dedicated to different mediums.

Primarily a painter, Mahoney also draws and creates small books of original photographs. Right now, he’s working on a series of realistic paintings of landmarks: the Rosewood Dairy Bar, Zesto’s and the Shawgate Pawn Shop just this side of Sumter.

Known mostly as a carpenter, Mahoney is one of several new artists coming to Open Studios this year. He works out of his home at 607 Deerwood St. in Rosewood.

Patrick Parise

This will be a working weekend for Parise, who will demonstrate printmaking for guests in his basement studio at 280 Tombee Lane in the Kings Grant subdivision.

“It’s very interesting to watch the process,” he said.

Parise tends to make large pieces, and he is working now on a collage made from leftover mat board. “Artists work with materials they have on hand,” he said.

Kings Grant is at Fort Jackson Boulevard and I-77, just before you hit the gates to the military reservation.

Marian Soule

Soule is one of eight artists who joined together to open Studio Carlisle at 3146 Carlisle St., behind the landmark Christine Building along Millwood Avenue, a couple of years ago.

Now, their art space forms part of a core of studios, galleries, antiques and interior design firms that have congregated around and along Carlisle Street.

Soule, a watercolorist, gets energy from being part of a creative community. “Seeing what other people do, and getting criticism and encouragement from them, keeps me going.”

Curran Stone

Stone’s car restoration work evolved into what he calls “hot rod furniture” – lamps, benches, tables.

“Right now, I’m making a couch out of the back of a ’51 Buick,” he said. And restoring a tractor.

When he got divorced in 2005, Stone wanted to switch to modern furniture so he started making it, mostly out of raw steel. He’ll have about 60 pieces on display at his studio, Cartoys Kustoms, 1419 Carnes St., just off Two Notch and Pine Belt roads.

Christian Thee

One of the most popular stops along the tour, Thee’s home along Rockyford Lake is filled with his own artwork, the best known being his tromp l’oeil paintings.

Last year, 500 visitors trooped through the studio at 6196 Eastshore Road during Open Studios weekend. He arranged for hosts to show them the house in groups of 10, and plans to do the same this year.

Thee’s paintings create such illusions that one – a painted nest in a high corner of the living room – even fooled a bird that accidentally flew into the house. “Pretty good,” said Thee, who has a snapshot to prove it.

Mary Elliott Williams

Williams does portraits in pastels and oils primarily, but her works begin with a sketch.

“I have a north light window, and I do a pencil sketch ... to make sure I have the right idea of what the customer wants,” she said. “So I have some sketches to show.”

In addition, visitors will enjoy the beauty and hospitality of her home near the Saluda River at 1044 Hope Ferry Road in Lexington. “It’s quite a lovely drive,” she said, “and I’ll have light refreshments: fruit and cheese and cookies.”

Ellen Emerson Yaghjian

Working in copper, Yaghjian creates pieces to go on stands or hang on walls – or gurgle in the garden.

“I have a couple of fountains here,” she said.

Though she designs site-specific work, she’s bringing a couple of large-scale fountains to her courtyard at 2705 Lee St. in Old Shandon so people can see what she’s done. There are smaller pieces, too, that go inside or out.


Reach Hinshaw at (803) 771-8641.

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