The 13th annual Greenville Open Studios takes place Nov. 8-9 and features 129 artists and their studios. Visit the Metropolitan Arts Council’s website for a list of the artists, maps, an app and more info.
Greenville did not become known for its arts and culture by accident. It took much hard work, a bold vision and an appetite for taking risks to create a lively and welcoming environment that has both inspired artists to push forward with their calling and nurtured a community that has appreciated and rewarded those artists.
Much as Artisphere has done in the spring to promote the arts and publicly declare this community’s love and support for them, Open Studios has done in the fall by allowing people to take a tour of the world of local artists. Like most local events that have exploded in popularity, Open Studios started small, in November 2002. The idea for the event came with Patti Brady when she moved to the Upstate from San Francisco, according to a Greenville News story by Ann Hicks, who was the newspaper’s arts writer at the time.
Brady had experience with such projects on the West Coast, and wanted to bring the concept to Greenville where the public could visit artists’ studios. Fifty-nine artists signed up for the first Open Studios tour in 2002 that had a simple mission, according to the story: “Meet the artists. Ask questions. Watch them create. Buy original artwork.”
At that time Open Studios had goals similar to what they are today. From the beginning Open Studios gave voice to local artists so they could make people familiar with what they do and how they do it, according to that first news story. And the event helped artists create a sense of community, and people who once worked alone started to know each other. From these experiences a deeper appreciation for the arts and greater familiarity with local artists took root in our community. And those local artists began to meet and collaborate.
This weekend 129 artists will be participating in Open Studios, and 29 of them will be new to the event. Artists will showcase their work in a variety of media that includes painting, sculpting, print-making, stained glass, metalsmithing, textiles, mosaics, ceramics and mixed media. As Alan Ethridge, executive director of the Metropolitan Arts Council that coordinates this event, wrote in an op-ed on these pages on Sunday, “These artists have invested their valuable time and resources to ensure that the weekend promises something for everyone from an avid art collector to a first-time buyer or a curious observer.”
Here’s how Open Studios works: There are many ways that you can see where the artists and their studios are located. You can dig out your official catalog that ran last week in this newspaper, you can call the MAC office at 864-467-3132 or you can visit www.greenvilleARTS.com. You also can download an app at www.greenvillearts.com. (Don’t simply go to your phone’s App Store or you could end up with a tour in another state).
Open Studios traditionally has taken place on Saturday and Sunday, and this year the hours are Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sunday from noon until 6 p.m. Some studios will be open on Friday from 6 to 9 p.m., and those are listed in the materials about the event.
After you plan your tour, get ready to meet some great local artists and interact with them inside their studio. You can talk about what inspires them, ask questions about how they approach their painting or sculpture, and even watch them while they work. You also can purchase some of the best local art you will see in our area. More than 350,000 people have visited various studios since this event began in 2002, and those patrons have purchased about $2 million in art from our local artists.
Sculptor Dave Appleman, who will be participating for his fourth year in Open Studios, explained the appeal of the event to Greenville News arts writer Paul Hyde. “I’ve enjoyed it because it gives artists an opportunity to talk about our work. People have a lot of questions and I enjoy talking about what I do and showing my work.”
The arts are vital to Greenville. The arts enhance our community’s quality of life and give greater meaning to the lives of people who live here.
Make no mistake though, the arts are a powerful tool for economic development and most certainly have played a major role in the growth and success of the Greenville area. They help attract not only businesses and entrepreneurs to our community, but also they bring money into our community. The arts account for an overall annual economic impact of about $200 million in Greenville County.
Events such as Open Studios would not be possible without generous corporate support, the expertise of groups such as the Metropolitian Arts Council, and, of course, the artists themselves who are eager to share of their time and talent. This year’s event is free as Open Studios has been since its humble beginnings. The 2014 presenting sponsors are Regions Bank and SEW Eurodrive. Other sponsors and volunteers also have helped bring this event back for its 13th year.
Map out your plans for the weekend. Visit as many studios as you can. Talk to some great local artists. And don’t go home empty-handed.