Guide to Navigating Greenville’s Artisphere

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This May 10-12, Sealevel is a sponsor of the Greenville Artisphere festival, now in its fifteenth year. This sponsorship is a nod to the love of art Sealevel’s founders, the O’Hanlans, have – cultivated especially by Susan. On a daily basis, the O’Hanlans champion and share a delight in the arts, both performing and visual. On Sealevel’s own facility walls, art decorates these spaces as a constant acknowledgement of its importance.

However, our sponsorship is also part of Sealevel’s ongoing commitment to the preservation of the arts as necessary complement for imaginative thinking that drives engineering and other STEAM pursuits. A cognitive diversity that values thinking both creative and analytical, both traditional and innovative, results in designs and final products that surpass expectations. Extensive, long-term interactions with art only serve to help a STEAM pursuit.

In honor of this commitment, we wanted to highlight this annual event with a few attendance tips and some background behind the festival. We also highlight some of the artists that will be there. Attendees can view over a hundred participants and buy original works of art.

Sealevel’s Guide to Navigating the Greenville Artisphere Festival

Basics:
Cost: FREE except for the Art you buy.

Parking: Your best options will be in the city’s parking garages for $6 flat. There is also free parking at County Square, located at 301 University Ridge, from which you can take a free trolley to downtown. Private lots may vary in availability and cost.

Food and Drink: What art festival is complete without culinary art? There will be vendors, including Crepe du Jour and Cantina 76, along Main Street selling their best dishes. There will also be beer and wine stations located throughout the festival along with the SunTrust Wine and Craft Beer Experience, a $10/4 tasting station. Other downtown restaurants will be open with their own specials. Peruse at your own pleasure.

The ARTS

Visual: The 135 visual artists of Artisphere displaying their wares come from all over for this signature event. There are 18 different categories including ceramics, wood, printmaking and mixed media 3D. Sixteen artists are local to Greenville, and 35 are brand new to the festival. Be sure to check out Taylor Adams, one of two emerging artists from this year’s festival and a South Carolina local. Hailing from Salem, SC – not far from Sealevel’s headquarters – she makes mixed media paintings using painting and threading, among other things. She is inspired by the Blue Ridge Mountains famous to the South Carolina Upstate.

Performing: There are 16 musicians, including Charleston sensation St. Jermaine, and 13 live-act groups, such as Glow Lyric Theatre, that will be performing over the three days of the event. Some will be at the WYFF 4 Main Stage, on Broad Street not the Peace Center TD stage. Others will be at the Local Performing Arts Stage or the Art in Action Stage. These concerts are free to attend and sure to be full of fun and laughter.

Exhibits and Demos: One of the highlights about this festival are the hands-on exhibits and demonstrations that everyone, including kids, can enjoy. These interactive art moments immerse, educate and entertain. Some of the most discussed ones include chalk art that challenge our perspective or the Art Lab that nurture future artists. Art Lab classes require pre-registration, so check out those classes early. If classes aren’t your thing, don’t neglect the Communal Sculpture that kids love to build or the Brian Olsen “Art in Action” explosion of creativity.

If you’re committed to math and science, Clemson will also be displaying a STEAM exhibit. This display profiles exciting and beautiful moments in STEAM pursuits that are also artful. One of the events will examine the microcosmic beauty of life under a microscope.

It’s hard to recommend one artist over another, however, due to everyone’s individual interactions with a piece. If you plan to attend, the best thing to do is look at the Artisphere website and decide for yourself which ones you’ll see. There is a schedule along with an outline of the exhibits and demos planned for the event. We recommend looking at this Artisphere map to help you make the most of your planning or spontaneity. The event organizers provided a list of highlights.

If you can’t attend, check out the artists from the same website and follow them via social media. Some of these artists will attend other festivals or pop-ups, where you may be able to see them for yourself.

The Why

Artisphere started in 2003 with a goal to create a nationally recognized fine arts festival in South Carolina that also created economic vitality and enhanced quality of life for attendees and participants. It has become a creative center point for the state and Greenville especially. Nationally, Artisphere is known as one of the best “overall” arts fairs. In 2018, Artisphere brought in $5.8 million to the economy.

In its past 15 years, it has led to spotlighting local artists and performers. The affiliated Fred Collins Foundation has used this cultural landmark to award $120 thousand to local performing artists. The event organizers also give volunteers from local, non-profit organizations benefits from Artisphere proceeds, an investment into future artists and art communities in the area. Receiving organizations include SCGSAH, SCCT, Greenville chorale and MAC.

Beyond the economic impact, Artisphere has cemented Greenville’s arts community as a vibrant, thriving group of talented peoples and concerned institutions. People travel from out of state to see the fair and purchase from local artists. It also reinvigorates the annual support of artists well-known in Greenville that has made work by young people such as Vivian Morris possible.