Have you ever wondered what goes on inside the mind of an artist? Or where they quite literally draw, sculpt or create their inspirations?
Well, wonder no more. Most of your questions can be answered this weekend during the 701 Center for Contemporary Art’s sixth installment of Columbia Open Studios, a free, self-guided tour of artists’ studios in the greater Columbia area.
“The event gives our local artists an opportunity to engage the public directly and show their art, as well as their creative processes,” the website says.
A detailed guide lets you know where you can find one – or all – of the 70 participating artists, 27 of which are new to the tour. In addition to their studio address (as well as a map to point you in the right direction), you will have at your fingertips their contact information and information about their work and media.
Spread throughout Columbia and Richland and Lexington counties, there’s no telling what you may see or learn about the artist during your visit.
“The public gets to peek into artists’ studios and see the private workspaces of highly creative individuals,” the site says. “Some of these studios are in private homes, in stunning settings or exemplify brilliantly economical uses of space. Attendees get a sense of how artists work and can interact directly with the amateur and professional artists living and working right in their communities.
“Guests can view firsthand the labor-intensive task of making hand-sewn leather handbags, discuss painting techniques and work styles with lifelong pros, learn about the methods behind traditional Shambori indigo fabric dyeing, watch glassblowers craft intricate vases and jewelry and more.”
With so many artists’ featured, its hard to know where to start. Here’s a little help:
New artists and groups to know
▪ The Climb Studio: A new group studio has emerged at Bull and Taylor streets with a bunch of young male artists: Henry Foster (oil painting), Craig Houston (oil painting), Charles Pate Jr. (painting, sculpture) and Steven Whetstone (oil painting).
▪ J Renee: The female African-American artist specializes in “reverse glass painting” and has exhibits in New Orleans, New York, and Washington, as well as at Columbia College. Her work was been featured in Haitian exhibits at the United Nations, the Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts and the Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute, all in New York, as well as in collections at Southern University of Louisiana in Baton Rouge, W. E. B. DuBois Museum in Ghana and McKenna Museum of African-American Art in New Orleans.
▪ Jason Jaco: The Texas Street Works artist believed to be the first blacksmith to participate.
▪ Caroline Harper: The Crafty Feast “best in show” runner up, who works at Chi Design, specializes in indigo textile dyeing.
▪ Dylan Critchfield-Sales: The former 701 CCA artist in residence specializes in drawing and painting.
▪ Billy Guess: Known for being off-the-wall and entertaining, you never know what you’re going to get when you visit the studio where Guess creates installations, mixed-media works and sculptures.
Familiar names and faces
▪ Vista Studios/Gallery 80808: Eileen Blyth (acrylic- and graphite-painting, sculpture), Heidi Darr-Hope (collage, mixed media, painting and printmaking), Walton Selig (oil painting) and Laura Spong (oil painting).
▪ Brian Rego of USC and Benedict College’s art studio department
▪ Mary Gilkerson of Columbia College’s fine arts department
▪ Frol Boundin of USC’s art studio department
▪ Amanda Ladymon of USC’s art studio department. (She also does the kids’ craft station at Crafty Feast.)
So this weekend, take the time to meet, mix and mingle with your favorite – and soon-to-be favorite – local artists. Think of it as a way to paint the town red with some of Columbia’s best and brightest creative minds. Just leave the actual painting to the artists.
If you go
Columbia Open Studios
WHEN: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday, April 2 and noon-6 p.m. Sunday, April 3
WHERE: Throughout Columbia and Richland and Lexington counties
ALSO: A preview party will be 7-9 p.m. Thursday, March 31 at 701 Whaley, where guests can meet the artists, pick up guidebooks and browse 701 CCA’s latest exhibition. Tickets required.