Mark Plessinger and his Cult of Eyewear brand are a staple in the Columbia arts community.
He spearheaded the First Thursday on Main event, a monthly happening where businesses keep their doors open late, offering a thriving mix of art, music, food, drinks, specials, events and entertainment.
Plessinger is also the owner of Frame of Mind, The Art of Eyewear, an optical boutique and alternative art gallery in West Columbia focused on giving local artists a chance to showcase that they might not normally get anywhere else.
Plessinger’s belief is simple: Local artists should have the opportunity to showcase their work and local community should buy it.
Q. What does “Cult of Eyewear” mean to you?
A. The Cult applies to anyone that wears eyewear or is addicted to wearing sunglasses. So, to me, it means that eyewear is a lifestyle.
Q. Your shop also doubles as a gallery and event space. What kind of programming do you offer?
A. As an event space, we work with producers on unique experiences, such as record releases parties, belly dance shows, we’ve even been known to thrown burlesque shows in the space. As an art gallery, we often focus on artists that don’t get a lot opportunity to show their work in town.
Q. What are some upcoming events you have on the calendar?
A. This month we have two big events. On Nov. 2 we’re partnering with the City of West Columbia for the Fall Back Fest from 5-9 p.m. On Nov. 9 we have Collectively Supported Art edition No. 6, featuring Karl L. Larsen. Art lovers will get to spend two hours with Larsen as he creates a masterpiece and they’ll get to take home an 8-by-12 piece of the creation. Tickets are available at artofeyewear.com.
Q. How important is it for local artists to be supported by the city and people that live here?
A. Art is the core of life. It surrounds us constantly. The fork you eat with, the plate you eat off, the music you hear in the stores while you’re shopping — all were designed and created by someone with artistic talent. Those creative talents exist as your friends and neighbors. Supporting local art is paying someone for a talent that they were born with (they didn’t choose it), a talent that often times is the only way they can function in life. Supporting local arts (or not) weaves the very fabric of our way of life in this city. It’s up to us what we want that fabric to look, feel, and sound like.
Q. After a long day of working, where’s your favorite place to grab a cocktail?
A. I invariably end up at Cafe Strudel in West Columbia. Great people and it’s right down the street from my store.