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Lake City will become a living art gallery this weekend during ArtFields

Lake City is about 80 miles east of downtown Columbia, a small town with a proud farming history and a love for the arts.

It seems only logical that ArtFields would grow from that combination. During ArtFields, the once-thriving agricultural community of Lake City becomes a living art gallery.

ArtFields is a nine-day art competition and festival, created in 2013 to honor the artists of the Southeast in the heart of a traditional Southern small town.

Organizers say ArtFields “is living, breathing proof of the power of art. A reminder that its beauty and soul and energy live within each of us — even in the harshest of seasons.”

Up to 400 works of art will be on display in locally-owned venues, from renovated 1920s warehouses and professional art spaces such as Jones-Carter Gallery and TRAX Visual Art Center to the library, the history museum, the Ronald E. McNair Life History Center, restaurants, boutiques and other shops.

The festival ends Saturday (May 4) but there is still a lot to see, and several reasons why it’s worth the 90-minute drive from Columbia to Lake City to experience ArtFields. Here are five of those reasons:

You’ll get to see an incredible range of high-quality art — small to large and sculpture to digital media

The opportunity to actively participate through voting to decide who will win two People’s Choice Awards of $12,500.

The unique experience of interacting with this caliber of artwork in a more casual setting as Lake City’s downtown transforms into gallery spaces.

In addition to the ArtFields competition pieces, there will also be more than 250 pieces on display that are made by South Carolina students grades 1-12.

Lake City is a town revitalized by art and seeing the development of new restaurants and businesses in person truly shows the living, breathing proof of the power of art.

Once you’re there, you’ll want to be sure not to miss:

▪ Competition artwork

▪ Murals in progress on Sauls and Church streets

▪ Harlem Gospel Choir performance on the Village Green (from 7-10 p.m., May 3)

▪ Moore Farms Botanical Garden’s collection of outdoor art

▪ Silent auction of artwork from Plein Air Day

▪ It will be hard to miss the artwork, the food court, or the free Snapsterbooth Photo Booth at the Welcome Center (where you can take a personalized ArtFields photo strip). But here are a few subtle things to look for:

▪ Hidden objects in Donald Walker’s mural on the corner of Sauls and Church streets

▪ Many long-time volunteers who are passionate about ArtFields and Lake City

▪ Renovations to The Inn at the Crossroads

▪ Temporary murals sprinkled throughout town

▪ Officially designations of The National Register of Historic Places on a handful of galleries and buildings throughout town

Lezlie Patterson, special to GoColumbia

If you go

ArtFields

When: Through May 4

Where: Lake City, start at the Welcome Center, 28 North Acline St.

Time: The Welcome Center is open 10 a.m.-7 p.m. until May 4, when it closes at 4 p.m. But there are events before and after Welcome Center hours. Check the schedule for the timing of various events.

Cost: Many events are free, but some require admission and reservations. Check the schedule.

Notable: The Welcome Center is the place to start and end your day. Guests may register to vote for their favorite ArtFields pieces. Voters can activate their registration if they pre-register online prior to their arrival. Guests may use the convenient computers to cast their votes, pick up ArtFields Field Guide and maps, purchase ArtFields merchandise, get assistance with questions they may have about getting around town, and other details that may make their ArtFields experience even better. The lost and found is also located in the Welcome Center.

Details: For more information and for a current schedule, go to at www.artfieldssc.org.

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