If anybody had any doubt that Columbia’s
Main Street was becoming a major arts center in the state, all they had to do was swing by the revitalized downtown this week and any of those doubts would have been washed away by the flood of art, music, and activity on Main.
For me the fun kicked off on Wednesday when I attended the ribbon cutting ceremony for Tapp’s Art Center
. You might remember that I had a tour of the center back in August
when the center was still under construction. Now, artists have moved into the studios and wonderful artwork hangs on the gleaming walls.
Mayor Steve Benjamin was on hand to celebrate the opening of what he called “a major step forward in ushering in a new era” in downtown Columbia. The 22,000 square foot facility includes gallery space, artist studios, a performance space, a frame shop, a photography studio, classrooms and more. Turning the old Tapp’s Department store into a center for the arts was the brainchild of Brenda Schwarz Miller, who envisioned the center as “a place to create and connect.”
The party continued at Tapp’s the next night during First Thursday
, a monthly art walk that welcomes people to Main Street with gallery exhibits, snacks, drinks and live music. It was amazing to see people wandering the galleries, sipping wine and admiring the artwork, after having walked through sheetrock dust and bare walls just a few months ago. The place was already packed at 5 p.m – a full hour before the rest of the First Thursday festivities started. People in Columbia couldn’t wait to get a peek at their new arts center.
Down the block, I took in the quirky art show The Art of Food at the Anastasia and Friends Gallery
in the lobby of the Free Times building. The exhibit was wild and featured some wonderful paintings, photography and sculpture on a culinary theme, but also some installations created by local chefs from restaurants like Saluda’s
, and Cellar on Greene
One lovely ceramic plate held a puff pastry concoction out of which spilled – not melted Brie – but sparkling glass beads. Other chefs laid out slabs of tongue and kidneys wrapped up with a bow of kitchen twine. Extra fun was to be had watching the hesitation with which visitors approached the buffet table where the gallery offered an inviting selection of snacks. But no one was sure whether the spread was snacks or more art!
After the blocks and blocks of fun on First Thursday, I wasn’t sure I had the energy to head to the Columbia Art Museum on Friday night for their Arts and Draughts event, but it only happens a few times a year, so I didn’t want to miss it.
Arts and Draughts
allows the opportunity for a laid back evening visit to the museum, complete with a beer tasting provided by local bar, The Whig. Inside the museum, my husband and I joined in on a scavenger hunt through the galleries and even made a little art ourselves, drawing on the chalkboards at the arts and crafts station. Delicious finger food was free in the lobby, and outside food carts pulled up to the museum’s courtyard offering a wider array of deliciousness. Despite the November chill, we joined the rest of the crowd outside to hear a great band, The Lumineers
, play. They have a really unique sound that combines folk and rock with musicians on cello and mandolin in addition to guitar, bass and drums.
The weekend’s revelries are over, but the fun continues on Main Street, so don’t think you’ve missed the party.
The Tapp’s Art Center
is open, so stop by during the day to take a look at the exhibits or check their website
for upcoming events.
takes place on Main Street on the first Thursday of every month. The December event is usually a particularly fun night out with downtown dressed for the Christmas and shops offering holiday shopping specials.
The next Arts and Draughts
will take place at the Columbia Art Museum on Feb. 3 from 7 to 11 p.m. and will feature music by Those Darlings