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.
- jeffrey day