The Daily Gamecock

Yard event at Historic Melrose neighborhood fosters Columbia community, history through art

<p>The Historic Melrose Art in the Yard is an outdoor space for artists to display and sell their work. This year the main event is being held on Nov. 20 from noon to 4 p.m.</p>
The Historic Melrose Art in the Yard is an outdoor space for artists to display and sell their work. This year the main event is being held on Nov. 20 from noon to 4 p.m.

A sea of artistic talent against the backdrop of a historic neighborhood, smiling neighbors at every corner and supportive camaraderie between artists is present at the Historic Melrose Art in the Yard event, according to participant Ginny Merrett. 

Art in the Yard began in 2020 to provide artists with a socially-distanced, outdoor space to display and sell their works. Artists display work in yards across the neighborhood. Since its beginning, it has become a regular event, according to Lila McCullough, an artist and co-organizer for the event. 

The event, which will feature more than 80 diverse artists from the greater Columbia area, will be held on Nov. 20 in the Melrose Heights historic neighborhood. Attendees can also expect live music — including a musical performance by the folk group Admiral Radio — food trucks and a coffee bar. 

Ginny Merrett, a retired art instructor and esteemed Columbia artist, said she is thrilled to continue her participation in the event this year. She said she continues to participate because it fosters a strong sense of community for the people involved. 

"It's just a really neat way to meet the community of artists and the community as a whole," Merrett said. 

She said she has seen the event grow over time since being an established contributor.  

Artists of all kinds are welcome to join, including those that make art types such as traditional drawings and paintings, pottery, jewelry, baked goods, flowers and wood etchings.  To participate in the event, they just have to verify their work is original and that they live in the greater-Columbia area. 

McCullough said these lenient criteria help to cultivate an encouraging environment amongst artists. 

"I have never felt any competition from the artists," McCullough said. "It's all very supportive and everybody's out having fun, enjoying our beautiful neighborhood." 

While the event is for artists to make money, Merrett said networking and social connections mean more than the profits. 

"Sometimes there's not a lot of money that's made, sometimes there's an okay amount of money," Merrett said.  "But it's more for the camaraderie with the other arts people in the community and to meet people in the community." 

Heather Preston, a co-organizer alongside McCullough, said the diversity in artists is largely a result of this relaxed artist selection process. 

"This is a place for a wide diversity of artists, so it's specifically not a juried event," Preston said. 

While showcasing local art is a major aspect of the event, cultivating an appreciation for the historic charm of the Melrose Heights neighborhood is another goal. 

"Part of the reason for (the event) is to highlight the neighborhood," Preston said. "We feel that this is a wonderful neighborhood — it's a historic neighborhood — and we want to highlight the wonderful features." 

The environment of the event is known to be relaxed, light-hearted, and cordial. Merrett described this family-friendly scene as a "wholesome, nice atmosphere" full of friendly people. 

"The neighbors are out walking, they're walking and visiting everybody, have their dogs out walking, there are kids riding bikes," Merrett said. "Most everybody are appreciators of art and they just love seeing everybody's work that's out there."

The event will take place on Nov. 20 from noon to 4 p.m. The concert will be held from 4:30 to 7:30 pm. Entry is open to the public and free.