When you walk in, you are not sure where to focus your eyes. You hear the gentle squawk of the resident bird, “Pumpkin”, who forces you to – albeit somewhat hesitantly – venture in further, and peak around. What you make of it is up to you.
You’ve entered the Art Asylum at 1230 May River Road, Old Town, and this is not your typical art gallery. By typical I mean pristine walls sparsely populated with art that you can’t afford and sales associates peering at you trying to assess your net worth. Instead, it reflects the small town feel of Bluffton, as many of the galleries in Old Town do. In fact, the first time I slipped in to have a look I never encountered a person. I wandered on my own for a few minutes – a no pressure browse.
The birth of the Art Asylum is a sweet story steeped in love for the community. Last fall, Harold and Denise Lee, owners of Old Bluffton Flowers (a find in itself and the perfect spot for your visiting guests to pick up a memento of their stay here), were looking for a way to bring an art gallery to the space next to their shop. By January the doors were open and another Bluffton institution was born. The Lees generously provide the financial backing for the Art Asylum as a gift back to the community, one that they adopted years ago.
My second pop-in introduced me to Molly Carrington, Artist-in-Residence of the Asylum, which she bills as a haven for artists. “This is a place to keep them safe from the world,” Molly tells me.
According to Molly, “The Asylum is a montage of good and bad art. Art is everything – it is in the mind of the beholder.” The Art Asylum encourages artist to be unusual and different. This mission stems from Molly’s own experiences as a “junk artist” – a genre that hasn’t been taken seriously in her opinion.
The Art Asylum offers an eclectic mix of art in all forms – paintings, jewelry, paint your own pottery, poetry readings, creative arts classes, artist’s receptions every Friday night (booked through 2007!) and even Tai Chi on occasion. My favorite … Lillian Byrne Heyward’s current exhibit features an inventory of rooster-related oils on canvas that I am salivating over. Good news, they have a lay-a-way plan for art purchases!
Molly tells the story of the Art Asylum and the Bluffton arts community with passion. She is an interesting women with a gift to share and a mantra that goes something like this, “Well behaved women don’t make history.” I like this lady!
Art Walk Today!
Today the Art Asylum and the galleries and shops on Calhoun Street, stay open late and open their doors to the community for an art walk – an open house of sorts.
Merchants and artists will spill onto Calhoun Street offering snacks and libations. Howard Duff will entertain the crowd with his blues music, and guests will enjoy the chance to meet the artists and maybe understand just what it is that inspires them.
IF YOU GO:
Art Walk Bluffton – Food, Music & Art
Today, Friday, May 26
3:00 – 8:00 p.m.
For details, call the Art Asylum at 757.2741
March Writing Assignment
11 years ago