Open Studios
Paint swatches in Melissa Anderson’s studio. Photo by Bonfire Visuals.

By Alan Ethridge

Alan Ethridge, executive director, Metropolitan Arts Council. Photo provided

Scheduled for this weekend, the 18th annual Greenville Open Studios has a record-high 158 participating artists, making it another vital weekend for the area’s visual arts community. Since 2004, over 575,000 visits have been recorded in the various studios, and over $3.4 million in art has been sold. In 2018, 45,332 visits were recorded, and the artists experienced record-high sales of $318,975. These impressive results are indicative of Greenville’s continually expanding support of our cultural offerings.

Greenville’s arts community has significantly diversified over the past decade, and the weekend event showcases the talent and professionalism of the visual artists who work and live in our community. Each year since the event’s beginning in 2002, Greenville Open Studios has grown to include artists in virtually every neighborhood throughout the county.

The presenting sponsors for 2019 are SEW-Eurodrive, South State Bank and the Peace Center. Juergen, Christopher and Rainer Blickle, principals at SEW-Eurodrive, have been very loyal supporters of Greenville Open Studios for many years, and we look forward to working with them in the future as our visual arts community continues to diversify and expand. We welcome South State Bank as a presenting sponsor for the third year, and we truly appreciate the dedication and commitment to the event by Mike Coggin and his team at South State. The Peace Center’s sponsorship reflects the organization’s commitment to all of the arts in our community, and we thank Megan Riegel and her dynamic staff members for their support. the Metropolitan Arts Council also thanks The Greenville Journal and WYFF for being such generous media sponsors.

The event guarantees free and convenient community access to the visual arts by creating opportunities for interaction between artists and the general public. Greenville Open Studios has evolved into the premier sales and marketing event for area artists, and the weekend also provides an excellent way to learn more about artistic processes and sources of creative inspiration.

The hours of Greenville Open Studios are from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 9; and from noon-6 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 10. Please feel free to contact the MAC office at 864-467-3132 at any time throughout the weekend if you need additional information. Several artists will have their studios open from 6-9 p.m. Friday, Nov. 9, as indicated in the catalogue.

There are several ways to select the studios you would like to visit — for an official catalogue, please visit the MAC at 16 Augusta St. in downtown or visit www.greenvilleARTS.com for an electronic version. The catalogues were included in the November 1 edition of The Greenville Journal, and they are available at many retailers throughout the downtown and Augusta Road areas. “Squared Away,” an exhibit at the MAC Gallery consisting of one 12-inch by 12-inch (by 12-inch) work of art from each of the artists, provides you with a comprehensive overview of the event. The exhibit runs from Nov. 1 through Dec. 13, and the gallery is open from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Mondays-Fridays. You can also visit the MAC website, www.greenvillearts.com, to view an extensive image gallery for most of the participating artists as well as directions to their studios and contact information.

Once again, MAC is offering the mobile app for the 2019 event. The app is accessible for all smartphones and can be downloaded now from the MAC website. The app will allow you to sort the 158 participating artists alphabetically, by medium, accessibility and “Open Friday.” Choose and create a map of your favorites and travel to the studios through Google Maps. This application was designed and implemented by Robojuice, and we greatly appreciate the time and investment that this company has provided for the feature.

It is imperative that we continue to support our existing cultural assets that make Greenville a remarkable place to live and work. The arts throughout Greenville County account for an estimated overall economic impact of over $220 million annually, and they play a major role in attracting new businesses and tourists to the area. If the arts are to serve the public, then the public should, in turn, support the arts so that our quality of life is maintained and enhanced. Greenville Open Studios also provides an opportunity for area corporations to purchase art from local artists for their offices. Companies such as Countybank, Elliott Davis, Greenwood Capital, McMillan Pazdan Smith, Piedmont Arthritis Clinic, Prisma Health, South State Bank and TD Bank, to name just a few, have all purchased works by local artists for their facilities.

Robert L. Lynch, president and CEO of Americans for the Arts, recently said “we are in a time once again where our need for the arts is growing more and more apparent. Controversy and anger and fear seem to swirl around us these days in large supply. This has happened plenty of times in our history. We have needed and sought the healing and teaching power of the arts for a long time, perhaps forever.”

The arts have proven themselves to be a major factor in Greenville’s Renaissance, and Greenville Open Studios is an event that has been vital in providing easy and convenient access to our city’s tremendous cultural assets.  

Alan Ethridge has been at the helm of the Metropolitan Arts Council since 2006.  He can be reached at alan@greenvillearts.com

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