Spring may be a long way off, but something new is blossoming at the Art Museum: the first-ever community pottery studio in Horry and Georgetown Counties, now under construction on the ground floor of our facility.
To be named the Lineta Pritchard Pottery Studio, the 1,000-square-foot facility will occupy previously underutilized space directly under our first-floor offices. The fully-enclosed, all-weather studio will include six pottery wheels, a hand-building area for up to 10 students, a glazing surface with storage for a colorful assortment of glazes, a cleaning station and a separate room for a kiln. The studio will offer pottery classes for both children and adults, five days a week year-round beginning in early spring. Students registered for any of these sessions will also be able to take advantage of open-studio hours where they can work on their own.
The project began with conversations between board members and Arielle Fatuova, the Art Museum's Education Coordinator and ceramicist, whose enthusiasm was instrumental in moving the idea forward. Having marked our 20th successful year, we felt the concept not only filled a need in the community-at-large but also provided a new medium of creating art at the Museum.
The new Lineta Pritchard Pottery Studio honors a committed Museum leader whose hard work, dedication and sense of community - since the Museum's earliest days - have helped make the Art Museum what it is today. Over the years, Lineta conceived and led the efforts to stage many of the Museum's most recognizable annual fundraising events, including the Spring Tour of Homes and the Bag Ladies Luncheon.
We are very grateful to The Chapin Foundation, along with additional support from The Brittain Family, Carolyn Burroughs, Nancy Cave, Sharon and Mike Clayton, Cynthia and Eddie Dyer, Vern Hearl and Bill Pritchard, who have provided funding for this wonderful new facility.
Meanwhile, two new exhibitions have "sprouted" at the Museum: William H Miller: What You See Is What You Get, now open, and Steven Bleicher: The Kings Highway, both exhibits run through April 22.
Besides being a prolific artist - creating abstract works that merge two strikingly different media, traditional painting and digitally-generated images - William "Billy" Miller has been a gallery owner, a mentor to other artists and a tireless advocate for the arts. He is also a member of our Museum's Board of Trustees.
His exhibition's title is a definite misnomer, as Billy's abstract work is so much more than what appears on the canvas, as he paints (in his words) "to communicate complex themes and emotions ... meant to stir a viewer's visual mind - activating, adding to and remixing notions of imagery and meaning." Viewers will undoubtedly find much in these 35
works to stimulate and intrigue them.
Steven Bleicher, a professor of visual arts at Coastal Carolina University, has long studied the American fascination with travel as viewed through the lens of our coastal landscape and roadside attractions, both past and present. His impressions of US Highway 17, or the King's Highway, are distilled into mixed-media compositions that combine photorealistic graphite renderings developed from site sketches and photographs with corresponding road maps and found objects. Both new and longtime residents of our coastal community will surely find them fascinating.
And in our second-floor gallery is an exhibit that is both old and new. Titled Collection Connections: A Visual Exploration of Southern Heritage, the 37 works by more than 20 artists have been selected from the Museum's Permanent Collections. Comprising antique maps, historical prints, works on paper, fabric quilts and photographs, these works have one thing in common: they are meant to cultivate a greater understanding and appreciation of the uniqueness of Southern culture.
Chosen primarily as a means of introducing school students to Southern history through the vehicle of the visual arts this exhibit is a wonderful way to introduce visitors and newcomers to our area to the many facets of our local and regional culture.
We offer thanks to The Chapin Foundation, the South Carolina Arts Commission and the Georgia-based Watson-Brown Foundation, an organization dedicated to preserving Southern history and culture, for their generous grants enabling us to compile and present this exhibit.
Looking forward to seeing you at the Art Museum. Thank you for your support.