Sunlight streams through the tall, upper-story windows of the historic Brandon Mill Cloth Building in West Greenville as students expand their horizons in summer art classes. Artists create in studios nearby and three galleries display their work — and the work of others — from the Upstate and beyond. Inspiration is everywhere at Greenville Center for Creative Arts and extends into the community through outreach programs.
“There’s always something meaningful being created at GCCA whether it is a career pathway, a friendship, an expression, or a respite,” says Kim Fabian, who joined as executive director in February 2020, just in time for the pandemic to bring many artistic endeavors to an abrupt halt.
But last year’s challenges led to the development of new ways to deliver GCCA’s offerings to a wider audience. Virtual and in-person classes have been well-attended. The galleries now have extended hours and are free and open to the public from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday through Friday and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Saturday. Excitement is high as guests return in greater numbers for events like the Metropolitan Arts Council’s First Friday Gallery Crawls.
August’s First Friday event, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Aug. 6, will serve as the opening reception for GCCA’s Sixth Annual Showcase, which will be on display in the Main Gallery through Sept. 22.
“GCCA’s Annual Showcase provides the community a wonderful opportunity to experience all that GCCA has to offer,” says Fabian. “This free evening features an exhibition of artwork created by our very own members, the announcement of our next class of Brandon Fellows, a special exhibit highlighting youth creations from our eight weeks of summer camp, the launch of our fall schedule of classes with live art demos and visits with our talented studio artists. We hope the community will join us as we celebrate the richness of the visual arts in Greenville.”
The center supports artists by providing shared and private studios, rotating exhibits featuring local, regional and national artists, and events to engage with the public. Each year, three artists ages 21-30 are chosen to receive the Brandon Fellowship, which includes free studio space, mentorship and art instruction.
Arts Education is a vital part of GCCA’s mission and classes are available for all ages and skill levels using a variety of mediums including clay, fiber, jewelry, mixed media, drawing and painting. Last year, 33 instructors led 70 classes serving 447 participants. Outreach programs serve about 20 students monthly at Sterling and Freetown Community Centers through a partnership with the South Carolina Arts Commission.
GCCA was formed in 2016 to fill needs in the arts community with the help of donors, including the Community Foundation of Greenville.
“Longtime board member Tracy Hardaway brought me into the early planning stages for what would become the Greenville Center for Creative Arts,” says Bob Morris, CFG president. “This is an amazing story of persistence and persuasion and our $100,000 grant was matched by the founders to raise $1 million for the purchase of its building.”
Renovations to the building will begin in September to incorporate space previously occupied by a tenant. The new section, expected to be completed by December, will include four open studios, seven private studios and jewelry and printmaking classrooms.
CFG Board Chair Liz Seman commends GCCA’s development as a home for the arts. “The mission of the Community Foundation is to help build a vibrant and inclusive community and the work of the GCCA perfectly aligns with that effort. Greenville is fortunate to have such an amazing asset in our midst.”
For more information, visit artcentergreenville.org or follow GCCA on social media.