Barry Wheeler recently spent several weeks shooting the often disappearing places of the Vista using a Polaroid instant camera, a device that has also largely disappeared. The exhibition consists of about 30 images many with smart phone links that will take the viewers to more information and images. 'Instant Vista' can be seen during the Thursday night crawl and all day Friday and Saturday at the 1001 HUGER STREET location of Lewis and Clark.
It comes as a surprise to a lot of people when I tell them that part of the USC art department is located in the the Vista.
They call it "The Zoo" because each studios is closed off from the others by nothing more than chain link.
Several years ago, running out of space at its home at Senate and Pickens streets, a bunch of students moved into a university owned warehouse space near Blossom and Huger streets. If you drive on Blossom much, you've almost literally passed over top of it.
Most of the students working in the space are painters, although there are those working in printmaking, and most are also exploring where they can take their art. So someone might be concentrating on painting, but what they end up making looks like sculpture.
As part of Artista Vista, the department has agreed to have an open house at the nearly hidden Zoo on Saturday, April 30 from late morning to late afternoon.
But before that happens you can see some shows by artists who work at The Zoo. Chris Johnson has an excellent show of his prints (and a few more things) at the art Department Gallery for a few more days. Tobin Cagnoni's exhibition of his paintings/sculptures (I don't know what they are but I like them) opens at the gallery April 20.
Also just behind The Zoo it the recently constructed wood burning kiln used for making ceramics. If all goes well that baby will be fired up April 30 as well.
These are not the easiest places to find. If you are around Gervais and Huger, head south on Gervais. (On this journey consider stopping at One-Earned Cow Glass where some artists will be making drawings of other artists that day and Lewis and Clark for furniture and a photos show.)
A block before Blossom Street is Devine (take a left, which is the only way you can turn.) Go past the sporting goods store, past the BBQ place (or get some take out), past the giant brick cotton compress building and over the railroad tracks. You'll see an official USC sort of sign with with 718 Devine on it. Turn there. The studios are on the side and toward the back of the building. (If you get to Gadsden you have gone too far.)
Composer George Fetner is creating a sound installation for Install It. The work is a re-examination/interpretation of the state song "Carolina" with music by Anne Curtis Burgess and words by Henry Timrod. The song was written 100 years ago.
When I start telling folks about what I'm working on for Artista Vista, it rapidly expands both in conceptual and geographic scope. So let me try to spell it out in words and maybe it will be clear - even to me.
I am curating an installation art exhibition that will mainly be located in a building on Gervias Street with a couple things outside. The artist taking part are listed at the right and you can check out their work by clicking on their names. This opens for the AV gallery crawl the night of April 28.
Another part of this project will be a photo show organized and shot by Heather Bauer and Barry Wheeler and it will be at Lewis and Clark's location on Huger St. behind One-Eared Cow Glass. The photos will be taken with hard-to-find Polaroid film of places in the Vista and right now Barry is working on a Smart phone connection that will give you more information about what's in the photo.
This will open for the gallery crawl April 28.
That night in a storefront window on Gervias, the Dr. Sketchy art group will be modeling.
Both these shows will be open Friday and Saturday as well. On Friday, we'll have an informal walk through of the Gervais St. installations with some of the artists - and CUPCAKES.
To entice you back to the Vista, our shows and the exhibitions are other venues (City Art, Gallery 80808, Gallery at Dupre, if Art, Carol Saunders, Nonnah's), the USC Percussion Ensemble will give a free concert at City Art at 1 p.m.
We also hope that day to have some of the artists from the About Face art group sketching the glass artists at One-Eared Cow at work.
For much of the day Saturday, the graduate painting studios of the USC Art Department will be open - bet you didn't even know the art department was in the Vista, did you? The studios are located near Huger and Blossom streets (actually at the back of 718 Devine St. - not to be confused with the busy Devine St. shopping area adjacent to Shandon.)
A few months ago Clark Ellefson, one of the first artists to move into the Vista many years ago, asked if I'd be interested in organizing an installation art project for Artista Vista. Since it was something I'd been thinking about for a year, it was easy to say Yes.
The first thing to do was check out the lay of the land - and there is a lot of land in the Vista. It officially stretches from Elmwood to Blossom, from the Congaree River to Assembly. But even sticking in and around the core of the business area around Gervais and Lady streets, there is STILL a lot of land.
For good or ill businesses come and go and even some of the prime spots in the area are unoccupied - good for artists looking for a place to work, but not so good for business. There's a surprising amount of open land as well and odd outdoor spaces. In a word, it was, for me Overwhelming. I knew we couldn’t spread everything out all over the place because people who wanted to see everything would be hard pressed to do it.
The artists helped me decide that.
So how did I decide on the artists (something that most artists who aren’t picked to take part in something often wonder and worry about)? I really didn’t have to think too much about it. There are a certain number of artists in the area who do or can do installation work, whose work I knew, and who I knew personally on some level. I wanted some artists with a lot of experience, others who had some experience who might be able to push themselves a bit for this project and others who were a bit newer to the medium. I thought all these artists had made interesting work in the past, were dependable, and decent people. So far, I’ve been right, especially about the last part. The conversations and give and take, the willingness of people to help one another, and assist me has been remarkable.
(I also talked to various musicians and musical groups, dance companies, and writers about taking part. Eventually I realized the hours in the three days could contain so many events.)
So, one day most of us walked around. We went to the top of the fire training down on Park Street (and all decided we want an apartment in the building), looked at the entrance to the train tunnel, peer into empty storefronts, and walked across vacant lots. When we looked through the window of the former Mais Oui building on Gervais, everyone was intrigued. When the owner Conrad Powell let us in a couple of weeks later, we were converted. The right space, the right size space, the right division of space, the right looking space. That’s where most of the installations will be installed.
Now, I will contradict myself because our offerings for AV actually will spread all over the Vista – all the way down to Blossom Street. More on that later.
Most of you know Artista Vista as a one-night gallery crawl held each spring. The crawling part is important and without the galleries in the Vista it wouldn't exist.
But the eventgrew out of the rise of installation art in the early 1990s, especially by the groundbreaking 1991 exhibition “Places with a Past” at the Spoleto Festival USA in Charleston. Columbia artists seized the inspiration and for a number of years during Artista Vista organized significant installation art shows. This year, in honor of the 20th anniversary, the organization embraces art outside the gallery walls again.
The installations (and a few other things) will take place over three days and from one end of the Vista to the other. (The Vista, in case you didn't know extends from the Congaree River to Assembly Street and from Elmwood Avenue to Blossom Street - it's big.)
Half a dozen artists will create works for 927-929 Gervais St. ranging from found object sculptures to fabric and ceramic-based installations, as well as work created of sound. (Check out the list to the right of artists taking part. Click on the names to learn more about them.)
Two pieces will be located near the fire training tower at Park and Gervais streets.
Members of the About Face and Dr. Sketchy art-making groups will be working in the area.
A photo show - with the photos taken with rare Polaroid film - will take a look at the Vista.
A percussion ensemble will play at City Art.
The University of South Carolina art department painting studios will have an open house and the department’s adjacently-located, brand new wood-fired kiln will also be in action.