The day before historic flooding hit Columbia in October, Gallery West owner Sarah Cogsworth and husband Will South scrambled to build a makeshift dam to protect the gallery’s back door from water.
They piled layers of sandbags, plastic vinyl and plywood boards to form an impressive blockade that held off floodwater from the street, but it came leaking through the roof, and, in one spot, even partially collapsed the ceiling.
Cogsworth couldn’t open her store for business, and with the valuable holiday shopping season fast approaching, she found herself in a difficult situation.
“I just had to get open for the holidays,” she said.
Luckily, a building a stone’s throw from her gallery on State Street in West Columbia opened up at just the right time.
“I was committed to staying on State Street. It’s a much smaller space, but it’s still got the charm of exposed brick, and we’ve been able to give it that same feel as the larger space,” Cogsworth said.
Gallery West reopened two weeks ago at 134 State St.
I was committed to staying on State Street.
Sarah Cogsworth, owner of Gallery West
The gallery still has a mix of prints and paintings, antique furniture and objects designed to make you feel “at home.”
There are handmade cards and decorative ceramic tiles, and earrings dangling with tiny bound books with pages that actually turn.
Cogsworth is mindful to sell work from local and regional artists, with a special interest in unusual materials, especially for jewelry.
On a recent visit, Cogsworth herself was wearing a necklace of spiral-pattern zippers made by an artist in Buenos Aires.
In a case by the door, paper necklaces and bracelets from Charleston artist Jocelyn Chateauvert were the definition of wearable art.
“It’s the delight of the unexpected,” Cogsworth said of the pieces.
Due to the space constraints of the gallery – 600 square feet, as opposed to 2,200 square feet at the previous space – artist exhibitions will have to be done on a much smaller scale, Cogsworth said.
Once she gets settled and has all of the holiday merchandise out, Cogsworth will rebook exhibitions she had to cancel (like one for Chateauvert) and book new ones for 2016.
She added, “It’s a lot more intimate, but I really like it.”