Visitors to the 22nd Artista Vista gallery crawl, which kicks off Thursday night, might notice more scheduled events as part of the festivities as well as a return, again, to what used to be a tradition at the longstanding Vista event.
“Installation art was an important part of Artista Vista in its early years,” Jeffrey Day said. “But as the Vista developed, there were fewer spaces to do this kind of work.”
Day curated this year’s “Install It 3: above and below” housed in and around the Vista Greenway’s tunnel as part of Artista Vista. He began organizing installations for Artista Vista three years ago after organizers asked him to do something special for the crawl’s 20th anniversary.
“So I did, and it went really well,” he said. “And one of the great things about it is every year it’s been different.”
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This year’s exhibit, for example, will feature installations from a half-dozen Columbia artists who for inspiration have tapped into the history of the old Washington Street African-American business corridor and the city’s commemorations of Civil Rights events from 50 years ago.
It’s a tie-in that Day says evolved naturally.
“Last year, I was already thinking about some of these things (such as) the history of Washington Street and Zion Baptist Church ... when this year the civil rights history came up,” he says. “So it was perfect the way it all came together and really it came together organically.”
The tunnel, he says, also offered the perfect metaphor for the history of the area.
“It’s kind of this buried history or this hidden history,” he says. “There’s not much of that history or those things that were once part of Washington Street still there.”
Meanwhile, the innovative use of the Vista Greenway’s “cut through” is already creating a certain amount of buzz among festival goers and organizers.
“I love that the Vista Greenway is open,” said Sarah Lewis, executive director of the Vista Guild business alliance. “It’s a great opportunity to use that space.”
Lewis says in addition to Install It 3, Artista Vista will feature more organized events such as gallery tours, artists talks and mini history tours and, of course, a wide variety of shows and exhibits at more than 10 galleries.
“In the past, Thursday was the big kickoff, and that’s still true,” she says. “But we really wanted to make it a true three-day event.”
Lewis said gallery owners and other merchants in the area are already starting to see an uptick in foot traffic partly due to the arrival of milder weather but also from those coming in from outside the area to participate in Artista Vista.
“We definitely want our Columbia folks to attend,” she says. “But we certainly want those from the Northeast all the way out Lake Murray, Camden and Newberry areas to come out as well. We wanted this to be Columbia and beyond Columbia.”
Lewis says while the crawl will be festive and sophisticated it will also be accessible to a wide audience.
“There is definitely high-end art, but there is affordable art for the average man as well,” she says. “It’s all in what you want.”
Reach Lucas at (803) 771-8657.