Like the other Open Studios events around the country – unaffiliated, much like the First Thursdays phenomenon – Columbia Open Studios has grown to be a widely anticipated annual art event around the Midlands. Presented by 701 Center for Contemporary Art, the free, self-guided tour opens the doors to visual artists’ studios across the region on April 5 and 6, 2014.
The first weekend in April, thousands of people will venture out to chat with artists about every aspect of their work, meet fellow art lovers and purchase favorite pieces, if they wish, at zero markup. Guidebooks are available at various locations around town and at 701 CCA, located inside historic 701 Whaley on the 2nd floor. Nearly a dozen of these artists are new or returning to the tour after a hiatus, yielding a variety of new stories, inspirations and techniques for tour goers. Artists take full advantage of their personal backgrounds, favorite art-making tools and studio spaces, proving that inspiration can be found in the most typical and seemingly mundane places.
Curious about the kind of experience you’ll get during Columbia Open Studios?
Learn more about a few of the tour’s newest artists before mapping out your weekend of studio-hopping.
Renea Eshleman, Cayce Renea Eshleman serves as the Associate Director of Academic Affairs for the S.C. Commission on Higher Education. Such a hefty title could certainly mean a challenging work day – which is why she sees art as her therapy. Eshleman makes her own jewelry and is also a painter, using her “mother-in-law-suite”-turned-studio to house her supplies. The studio is readily accessible for loading/unloading art and supplies from the adjoining garage, which also serves as a spill-over space for too-good-to-pass-up art display units and frames. A small porch and French doors to the outside inform her jewelry-making, providing a source of inspiration outside her chaotic yet comfortable space.
Jean Capalbo, Shandon Extensive travel and a professional background in education are Jean Capalbo’s muses. In fact, she was in Tanzania in March, observing animals on the Serengeti and other African plains. (Her painting in the near future will undoubtedly be influenced by this trip.) She has served as a school administrator and a teacher, enjoying the field in its entirety due to its creative core. Specializing in acrylic and oil painting, Capalbo is always searching for unique mediums to craft surface designs, including everything from plastic doilies to foam stamps. Capalbo has recently relocated to the Carolinas from Sedona, AZ. She has painted all her life, taking time to study the field at UCLA, Santa Monica College, USC (our USC that is) and Sedona Art Center in Arizona.
Charlene Wells, Melrose Heights/Millwood Wells is one of four Open Studios artists operating out of Viridian Gallery & Studio on Carlisle Street. She refers to the area as a developing “art block,” boasting not only another studio, but also several other artists, an architect and an interior decorator. Wells has studied under many accomplished artists. While painting under Reuben Gambrell, she met a handful of fellow artists with whom Viridian was later formed. Her paintings of subjects from the created world are allegorical expressions that she hopes will inspire a viewer to pause, study and decipher the symbol - while also noting her expression of color and value.
Returning to the tour are Tim Floyd and Jan Swanson. Other newcomers are John & Venetia Sharpe, Patrick Mahoney, Lindsay Wiggins, Lisa Strally and Mary Lynn Williams.
- Find out more about your old favorites as well as the new talent on 701 CCA’s Columbia Open Studios website: www.columbiaopenstudios.org.
- Get a guide at 701 CCA (701 Whaley, 2nd floor) or at art-loving venues around town.
- Preview Party Thursday, April 3, 7-10pm at 701 CCA, $5/$10 with cash bar and complimentary hors d’oeuvres.
- Tickets: http://www.701cca.org/columbia-open-studios-preview-party/
- The Columbia Open Studios tour Presented by 701 Center for Contemporary Art Saturday and Sunday, April 5-6, 2014