The Daily Gamecock

32nd annual Artista Vista spotlights diverse Columbia art scene

The Art Gallery Crawl opens the Artista Vista event by highlighting various Columbia artists working throughout the Vista, bringing attention and traffic to their galleries and prompting discussions with the community.

<p>A view inside a room within Lewis+Clark on April 19, 2024. Clark Ellefson, the principal designer and owner of the studio, gallery and workshop space, has various items for display and sale.</p>
A view inside a room within Lewis+Clark on April 19, 2024. Clark Ellefson, the principal designer and owner of the studio, gallery and workshop space, has various items for display and sale.

The Congaree Vista Guild kicked off its 32nd annual Artista Vista with an art gallery crawl on Friday night. The event spanned 12 locations across the Vista district, with each showcasing the work of different local artists.

Local artists such as Michael Naughton said they see the event as an opportunity to gather with other creators and present their art to the public. Fellow Columbia artists Beth Coker and Siara Pineda were inspired to join the event by Naughton, who returned for his second year.

“It’s important in our small art community to network and get involved with other artists so that we can all support each other,” Coker said.

Many artists featured at the event have been working in Columbia for decades, including Stephen Chesley and Wade Sellers.

Chesley and Sellers said the rise of art in the Vista was an attempt to revitalize the area, which Sellers described as once being somewhere people would actively avoid. The efforts began with a gallery and shop called Lewis+Clark in the 1980s.

“The Vista was just warehousing, and nobody came here,” Chesley said. "And Lewis+Clark slowly started to have events and art shows, and then people would only come for the art shows. And then slowly things started to change.”

The gallery crawl showcased a diverse range of art and artists. SOULHaus, the Vista’s newest art gallery, displayed the work of Benedict College art students as part of their senior capstone project, including fourth-year studio art student Elia Allen. She was appreciative of how the event brought attention to artists with varied experiences and styles.

“I really believe that this is bringing awareness to the types of artists that are here in Columbia. A lot of us not only are from school, but a lot of us have different backgrounds, from different ranges of age, different backgrounds, not just within Columbia, South Carolina, but wherever we’re been,” Allen said.

Mary-Louise Miller, a photographer for local nonprofit PhotoSC, said the event's promotion of art has positive economic and cultural effects on Columbia and its residents.

“The arts just really — they generate a lot of dollars for the economy,” Miller said. “They help to set the cultural undertone of the city, and so in more ways, they allow the expression of ideas. And it goes on and affects the learning of children and adults, and it’s a lifelong passion for many people.”

Miller said it’s important for events such as Artista Vista to be covered and that Columbia artists should be given a voice to reach out to the community and encourage them to expand their horizons.

“It helps to educate the public and make our city a little bit more sophisticated — a term of having a defined sense of taste and knowledge," Miller said. "So covering the arts is just really critical to the culture of the city.”


Lewis+Clark is one location on the crawl. It has moved to a new location on Huger Street, but it still remains at the heart of the event. Clark Ellefson is the owner of the gallery, where his eye-catching post-modern artwork, such as lamps, furniture and robots, are available.

Ellefson helped establish Artista Vista 32 years ago, and he remains passionate about participating and promoting Columbia’s artists to this day.

“It’s a great event both for Columbia residents and for the artists because artists need an audience. We make this stuff. We love making it, but we want people to see it,” Ellefson said “This is an event where people can go from place to place. They get to see a lot of art. It's free to the public, and they get the experience, too. They get to see it and experience the art.”

The event will conclude on Sunday, April 28, with a ticketed event called Live on Lincoln. More information can be found on the Vista's website.


Trending Now

Send a Tip Get Our Email Editions