The Daily Gamecock

'Culture is an investment': 3 art galleries contribute to the local arts scene in Columbia

<p>A photo of three art studios on the corner of Huger and Pendleton Street on June 21, 2021. The three art studios &nbsp;share the goal of providing an art district to the Vista.</p>
A photo of three art studios on the corner of Huger and Pendleton Street on June 21, 2021. The three art studios  share the goal of providing an art district to the Vista.

On the corner of Huger and Pendleton Street, sit three art studios dedicated to contributing to Columbia’s local art district and working to beautify their shared spaces with each of their artistic specialties. 

One Eared Cow Glass, Lewis + Clark Appliance Art and Stormwater Studios have different specialties but have one thing in common — a shared purpose to provide art to the Vista. 

“It’s taken a long time for Columbia to grow this type of community,” Katrina Lockart, the gallery manager of One Eared Cow Glass, said. “It’s kind of expanded the artsy area downtown to this area. And then the plans are to expand on Stormwater as well and kind of build an artist’s community down here.”

One Eared Cow Glass is a hand-blown glass studio and gallery that was founded in 1991 by Katrina Lockhart's husband and USC alumni, Tom Lockart, who co-founded the studio with another USC alum, Mark Woodham.  

Their storefront is the most visible to those that drive past on Huger Street, but according to Katrina Lockhart, One Eared Cow Glass and the other galleries are easily overlooked because of how removed the location is from the rest of the Vista.

“When we came in here, we were basically the furthest part away from the Vista at the time,” she said. "We were using this business as kind of an anchor." 

However, special events hosted and produced by the Congaree Vista Guild, such as Artista Vista’s Art Day in April or Vista Lights in November, draw large crowds to the galleries with the purpose of spotlighting all three. 

“That draws attention, they advertise that, so between that type of stuff and then just visibility, being around for so long, it brings people in,” Katrina Lockart said. 

Lewis + Clark Appliance Art sits behind One Eared Cow Glass and the two studios share the space. Clark Ellefson, the owner and principal designer of Lewis + Clark Appliance Art, said these shared spaces are trying to provide the city with a connection to the arts. 

“Artists come in old neighborhoods, and they fix them up and then they get pushed out, as kind of a rinse. And so, it’s, it’s bad for the artists, and it’s also bad for the city because they don’t have that access to the arts, like they normally would.” Ellefson said. 

While all three studios are separate entities, they are united in building an artist’s community. 

“What we’re trying to do here is create a permanent arts district that won’t get pushed out of the city,” Ellefson said. “We talk about things a lot, and we help each other out.”

Stormwater Studios, tucked behind Lewis + Clark and One Eared Cow Glass, provides studio space to 10 resident artists and rented gallery space to community artists for changing exhibitions. 

“(Stormwater gives) artists a place to work and to interact with the public,” Gerard Erley, an artist at Stormwater, said. “We can have various events here so that we’re reaching out to the community and we can involve them in things that we do.” 

In addition to the events that bring attention to all three studios, Stormwater has its own community outreach events. Erley said Stormwater held an event last weekend called AG and Art Day where live animals, such as a possum or snakes, were presented and talked about to raise awareness about agriculture and art.

Community outreach events like these are meant to draw a large crowd to gain more recognition for who Stormwater is and where the location is. 

Despite these events, the real draw to Stormwater are the exhibitions inside. The current exhibition at Stormwater Studios is “Scent” by artist and USC alumna Heather LaHaise, which runs until June 28. It is her second show at Stormwater. 

“It is a sort of an ode to the dog’s sense of smell,” LaHaise said. “Each painting represents a certain scent that dogs are drawn to.”

This space gives artists like LaHaise and Stephen Chesley, another artist at Stormwater, a space to thrive in and hone their talents, while expanding the art culture in Columbia.

“People are not going to Chicago, Paris, London, Charleston for beer trucks and football. They're going for culture,” Chesley said. “Culture is an investment, a big investment in the future of the quality of life and everything for an area."

According to Chesley, art and culture are what binds these different galleries and studios together in their dedication to making Columbia a cultural destination. 

“We're so rich with artistry. I mean poets, musicians and actors and writers and painters and dancers. I mean it's off the charts,” Chesley said.