You may recall that “Art Central” left its Short Central location in July when an opportunity came to move to a more spacious venue. The business is now at 420 Nexton Square Dr. in Summerville with a Grand Opening/Ribbon cutting set for 11 a.m. on Dec. 7. I dropped by the day before Thanksgiving to say hi to Jan Dalton who was central in helping find the new spot.
My interview is with Renee Bruce, one of its eight artist co-owners. The gallery features more than 30 local artists offering painting, photography, sculpture, jewelry, stained glass, mosaics and pottery. Hours: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily. What’s more, I believe the Nexton retail complex will have a Third Friday type of monthly arts night in the park there in front of the gallery, so stay tuned to my arts calendar.
Regan: Renee, I’m sure many miss “Art Central.” How is it going now?
Bruce: Yes. The doors opened by 11 a.m. on Nov. 22 and our first customers arrived soon after. Three beautiful paintings went home with happy collectors that day. We were very glad to share our art with people after being closed for so long.
The artists are there every day, getting familiar with the procedures, learning about each other’s creative processes and introducing our work to new customers and greeting old friends. We are inviting the public to a more formal introduction on Dec. 7, an exciting day for us. Several artists will demonstrate their painting styles from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. From 5 to 8 p.m., we’ll serve light refreshments at a reception with the artists.
R: Jan told me the former Art Central (co-operative) had 13 artists and you now have grown to more than 30? That is outstanding. Is the bigger space and location the key thing that fostered this quick growth?
B: The venue has everything to do with being able to represent so many more artists. Our square footage has doubled. We built extra walls to offer much more usable space for framed art to hang. There is also plenty of room for 3-D work such as sculptures, mosaics, glass and pottery. We are thrilled to have this opportunity to expand and grow.
R: Are your artists mostly from the Summerville area or do they travel in from the Greater Charleston region?
B: This area has so many great artists. Our members come from all over the Greater Charleston area, from St. George to Mount Pleasant and, of course, Summerville. Our styles are different, we work in various mediums, and we’re local.
R: How does the gallery function now? Workshops/classes to be offered? Does it still function as a “cooperative”?
B: ART on the Square is a hybrid co-operative. The gallery has eight artist-owners who take legal and financial responsibility for the business. We also represent the work of 26 additional artists and artisans. The gallery is still a co-operative in that all of us contribute resources and time to keep the gallery open. Cooperation and collaboration have always been the hallmarks of our business and that is still how we operate. We are excited to offer ongoing classes as well as one-day workshops. The larger gallery has afforded us a wonderful opportunity in the form of workshop space. The workshop schedule is just forming, so watch for announcements on social media.
R: How can other local artists get involved or are you at a capacity size limit?
B: The beauty of a co-operative style gallery is that whenever one artist needs to step away, another is ready to take up the challenge. While we are at capacity now, we will maintain a waiting list for the inevitable occasion when an artist needs to shift their attention to another area of life. We always encourage artists to stop by and talk to us about being a member. If the artist thinks we would be a good fit, they may request to be on the waiting list.
R: What else would you like to see happen or have planned for the new space?
B: We’ll be having artist receptions to introduce new artists and/or new work. The gallery is a beautiful venue; perhaps in the future, we would be open to having small receptions or gatherings for the public.
R: Anything else?
B: ART on the Square is in the heart of the Nexton retail complex, right on the public square (which is actually a triangle!) They have events planned from time to time, like the upcoming Christmas Tree Lighting on Dec. 6. from 7-9 p.m., and the gallery will be open.
Mary E. Regan, Columnist, is a Publicist with her ProPublicist consultancy. Story ideas? Email: Mary@ProPublicist.com