Posts Tagged ‘Vista Studios/Gallery 80808’

A Trip to a Birthday Party in Columbia, SC, for Laura Spong

February 21, 2016

Like I’ve said in the past, every once in a while the planets alien and a window opens where both Linda, my better half, and I can attend an art event together. The Birthday Party celebration that if ART Gallery and Vista Studios/Gallery 80808 in Columbia, SC, were having for Laura Spong, on Feb. 18, 2016, was one of these occasions. Both galleries are presenting the exhibit, “LAURA SPONG AT 90: Six Decades In Painting,” on view from Feb. 4 – 29, 2016.

These exhibitions celebrate the career of one of South Carolina’s most prominent painters, Columbia artist Laura Spong. Spong turned 90 in February. The exhibitions present some 120 paintings from six decades of Spong’s production, from the mid-1950s until 2016. You can read about the exhibits and a few essays about Laura Spong on Pages 15 & 16 of our Feb. 2016 issue of “Carolina Arts”, which can be downloaded at (

The Birthday Gal

It also happens to be 3rd Thursday in the Vista where galleries will be open and showing lots of fine art. But our main reason for going was to pay our respects to Laura Spong.

Back in the day when I was delivering copies of a printed version of “South Carolina Arts”, our publication before our current version, “Carolina Arts”, when I usually got to Vista Studios in Columbia – if the studios were open, most likely the only person there early in the morning would be Laura Spong working in her studio. So, once a month we would have a little conversation about what was going on in Columbia and other aspects of the visual arts. Now that I’m not traveling every month I really miss those talks.

Both shows are full of amazing work. The Birthday gal doesn’t look a day over 60, but the work is the proof of those 60 years of painting. She’s the best looking 90 year old I know. And, at that age, Spong is not slowing down – just check out all the work she did just last year at ifART Gallery. It’s all there until the end of the month. If you’re a 30 year old budding artists, go take a look and see what your career “could” look like – if you keep at it that long.




I’m working against the clock here, so I’m making this short and you need to get on the stick and go see these shows. Both galleries will always have works of her’s to see, but not like this collection of so many showing her work over 60 years.

I took some photos of some works I would have liked to take home, but after all I own an arts publication. But that doesn’t mean I can’t dream. I also took some photos of the way the gallery looked and the crowd there that evening.

There was also a nice exhibition catalog produced by Wim Roefs of ifART Gallery, with essays by Mark Flowers and Wim Roefs, including lots of color images of Larua Spong’s works.

“Never, Never”, by Laura Spong, 2012-15, oil on canvas, 12 x 12 in. on view at Vista Studios

“SR III”, by Laura Spong, 2015, oil on canvas, 12 x 12 in. on view at Vista Studios

“If You Don’t Know What You’re Looking For, You Can’t Find It”, by Laura Spong, 2015, oil on canvas, 60 x 48 in. on view at ifART Gallery

“Explosive Reds”, by Laura Spong, 2015, oil on canvas, 36 x 48 in. on view at ifART Gallery



As I mentioned, Feb. 18, was the 3rd Thursday of the month, which means it’s also Third Thursday in the Vista, where galleries and art spaces stay open later to show off art for people who can’t come by during regular hours.

We started at Vista Studios and then went over to ifART Gallery to see the other half of Laura Spong’s show, but we had the gallery to ourselves while we were there. There were lots of folks walking around the Vista, but it seemed not many knew about the art walk or they weren’t interested. We went over to City Art Gallery and as we got to the door Randy Hannah was just closing up. They had already had a big reception for their current show. Hannah let me in for a quick look – a private viewing. While he was locking the door another couple came to see the exhibit. As we were walking off it looked as if he was going to let them in too. For all I know that routine might have gone on all night.

We returned to Vista Studios to say our good-byes and asked a few folks there how Third Thursday in the Vista was going and it seemed not well. We were there for Laura Spong, so I didn’t notice at first that not many of Vista Studio’s artists were there with open studios. It’s going to be hard to sustain a monthly event if people are not following through. But, then I don’t blame folks who have worked all day for going home when the public doesn’t show up. But, all those who show up to a closed door, don’t have much reason to come back. I also have to add that the Vista Guild, an organization whose mission is to promote the Vista does a poor job on promotion. Galleries are paying dues and public funding is going to the group, but not much results can be claimed except that all the development in the Vista is bringing in folks naturally.

On the way out of town we stopped by One Eared Cow Glass. If we’re in Columbia, unless they are closed – we stop by One Eared Cow Glass. There were a good number of cars there and cars at Lewis + Clark, but when we walked into the gallery, no one was there – it was no surprise that everyone was back in the studio watching the Cowboys work – that’s Tom Lockart and Mark Woodham. But to our surprise something different was going on this evening. The Cowboys figured it was better to teach a glassblowing class during 3rd Thursday in the Vista – instead of waiting for folks to stroll in. And, sure enough, all while we were there watching this class – no one else came in for 3rd Thursday in the Vista.




I was very jealous of these folks getting a shot at doing the glassblowing dance. They were making their own glass balls – from start to finish. If like me you’re thinking – I wanna do that – get in line. There is a waiting list to get in one of these classes.

But, if you’re going to participate in 3rd Thursday in the Vista and don’t want to sit around waiting for folks to show up – why not teach a class and people if they show up can still have access to the gallery and watch glass objects made right before their eyes. Smart – very smart.

Frankly, I think the visual art community has gone a little too far when it comes to art walks, art strolls, or art whatever. The Vista used to have just two art walks during the year, which saw huge crowds attend, but now that several are going on every month – they’re not so special anymore. And, I’m not sure gallery owners need more reasons to provide the public with food, drink, and entertainment in the hopes that someone will buy some art.

Folks – art walks are for looking at art – not for free wine and food. Go see Laura Spong’s exhibits – she’s been waiting 60 years for you to come see her work and take one home to enjoy for another 60 years.

P.S. I want to mention that on the drive up and back to Bonneau on the Lake, we listened to Don Henley’s CD “Cass County” – which I recommend to anyone. At some point Linda said it was kind of country sounding and I explained that Henley was a good old boy from Texas and the Eagles were known for county rock. So what you get with “Cass County” is a country sound (a little slower than the Eagles’ sound) but still the cutting words you’ve come to know from Don Henley. And with the help of a lot of other country stars like Mick Jagger and Stevie Nicks. Of course there’s your Vince Gill, Alison Krauss, Martina McBride, Trisha Yearwood, Merle Haggard, Dolly Parton and more.

It was two hours to Columbia, three hours there, and two hours back home. What better way to spend seven hours – while a lot of folks just watched TV.

Gallery 80808 at Vista Studios in Columbia, SC, Offers Tucker Prescott: Solo Thesis Show – May 7 – 11, 2015

May 6, 2015


University of South Carolina Honors College student and Bachelor of Fine Arts in art studio candidate, Tucker Prescott, will open his senior gallery exhibition with a reception from 7:30 to 11pm, Thursday, May 7, 2015, at Gallery 80808 at the Vista Studios. Refreshments will be served, and Prescott will be available to discuss his senior exhibition and experience at USC. The exhibit will continue through May 11, 2015.

Work by Tucker Prescott

Prescott’s thesis project, “Figuratively Speaking,” is an exploration of the relationships that exist between figures and landscapes. His works vary in size, but scale clearly plays a powerful role in this exploration of space and the human figure. Composed of about 18 pieces, “Figuratively Speaking,” is a collection of works that represent the skills Prescott has developed while studying at the University of South Carolina and abroad at the International Center for the Arts in Monte Castello, Italy.

“This exhibition is a synthesis of academic figure work and a yearning for a fantasy outside of those boundaries,” said Prescott. “I feel like this collection tip toes at the edge of breaking free of classical ideas but does not quite make the complete separation. As new paintings developed, they experimented with a more contemporary space.”

Prescott will graduate with an Honors Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in studio art from USC on May 9, 2015. This exhibition is in partial fulfillment of his honors distinction requirements as well as an incredible opportunity for Prescott to reflect on the works he has produced during his four years of study at USC. While Prescott’s passion lies in painting, he also enjoys film production and editing, and as he prepares for graduation, Prescott continues to work at Mad Monkey, the local film and television boutique, as a pre and post-production specialist. Prescott’s projects in painting, film and photography can be viewed on his website at (

For more information, please contact Tucker Prescott at 843/687- 6870 or e-mail him at (

Columbia Museum of Art in Columbia, SC, Offers Special Presentation by Artists from Vista Studios/Gallery 80808 – Mar. 27, 2015

March 18, 2015


The CMA in Columbia, SC, presents the next event in its “Artist Salon” series with a special presentation by artists from Vista Studios/Gallery 80808 on Friday, Mar. 27, 2015, at noon among the art in the “Charles Courtney Curran: Seeking the Ideal” exhibition. The “Artist Salon” series features gallery talks about a wide range of topics and disciplines. This salon showcases Gallery 80808 artist’s creative responses to the spring exhibition.


“Feeling creative, the artists at Vista Studios/Gallery 80808 decided to play a game,” says Kirkland Smith, an 80808 artist. “Based on the children’s game of Gossip, where a phrase is secretly passed from one player to the next, the artists used visual art in place of words. CMA Chief Curator Will South chose a piece from the “Charles Courtney Curran: Seeking the Ideal” exhibition currently on display. He shared this inspiration piece with the first artist only, who was given three weeks to create a work of art and pass the new piece to the next artist. Each artist had three weeks to complete a work inspired from the image received.

The game has been in play since last spring. None of the artists have seen the progression of work and are excited to share all the pieces at the “Artista Vista” opening on April 23, 2015. This “Artist Salon” reveals the Curran inspiration piece and offers a sneak preview of the artists’ work. Come and see what happens when artists play around and get inspired.”

Gallery 80808 opened in August of 1990 as part of the Vista Studios project, a joint venture of the Columbia Development Corporation and the South Carolina Arts Commission. Since then the facility has matured into a unique venue for Columbia’s visual arts and has become a vital part of the city’s contemporary art scene.

This event is free with membership or admission.

For further information call the Museum at 803/799-2810 or visit (

Vista Studios in Columbia, SC, Host the Midlands Clay Arts Society’s 12th Annual Holiday Sale – Nov. 29 – Dec. 2, 2012

November 23, 2012

Vista Studios in Columbia, SC, will present the Midlands Clay Arts Society’s 12th Annual Holiday Sale, on view in Gallery 80808, from Nov. 29 through Dec. 2, 2012. An opening reception will be held on Nov. 29, from 5-8pm.

The Midlands Clay Arts Society’s 12th Annual Holiday Sale features one-of-a-kind, handmade gifts by South Carolina based ceramic artists. It is a much anticipated opportunity to view and purchase unique, original, works of art, from whimsical sculptures to classic functional pieces, decorative accessories, and everything in between.

Work by Tuula Widdifield

Participating artists for this year’s event are: Adele Thornhill, Alice Klaas, Anne Schultz, Barbara Mitchell, Becky Leonard, Betsy Kaemmerlen, Dawn Caldwell, Jeannie Lindler, Margaret Arial, Mary Lou Price, Mary Lou Wu, Pam Bailey, Patz & Mike Fowle, Renee Rouillier, Rick Shackleford, Rita Ruth Cockrell, Susan Kennedy, Susan Tondreau-Dwyer, Susanne Sievers, Suzy Shealy, Teresa Tipton, Terry Meek, Tim Graham, and Tuula Widdifield.

Work by Mike & Patz Fowle

The event takes place at Gallery 80808 at 808 Lady Street, Columbia SC 29201. The sale takes place over four days: Thursday, Nov. 29, noon-8pm; Friday, Nov. 30, noon-8pm; Saturday, Dec. 1, noon-4pm; and Sunday, December 2, noon-4pm. Admission is free; cash and checks only are accepted.

MCAS was organized in 1987 to foster fellowship, education and creativity among local potters and clay artists and to promote appreciation of all things made from clay.

If you would like more information about the sale, contact Adele Thornhill by e-mail at ( or call 201/839-6386 or visit the MCAS Facebook page at (

Vista Studios in Columbia, SC, Features Exhibit by The Half and Half Group – Dec. 9 – 14, 2010

December 6, 2010

Vista Studios in Columbia, SC, is presenting an exhibit of works by The Half and Half, a design and print studio in Columbia, on view from Dec. 9 – 14, 2010.

Widely known for their concert and event posters, The Half and Half marry a contemporary design aesthetic with classical printing techniques. Past work can be seen on a lot of walls, in a lot of dorms and arrested living rooms, throughout the country. Clients include CBS Records, Subpop Records and Dave Matthews Band. They have also had the pleasure of working with the Columbia Museum of Art and The Indie Grits Film Festival, here in the capital city.

The doors of Gallery 80808 in the Vista will open at 7pm, Thursday, Dec. 9, 2010, for a viewing and artists’ reception. On display this evening will be previously unseen work designed by The Half and Half and printed using silkscreen and letter press at their College Street studio. The work will remain on the walls and open to visitors through the following Tuesday.

The Half and Half founders, Sara Thomas and Nick Wilson attended The University of South Carolina, graduating from the graphic design program in 2007. The studio opened above Sid & Nancy, in Five Points, later that year. The demands of continuous success and the menacings of a kung fu dojo took their toll, however, and the Half and Half expanded in 2009. They moved to their current, roomier space in April of that year and were joined by fellow USC graduate, Thomas Jennings, in August. They work together and live separately, at this moment, as we speak all over the metro.

For further information call Vista Studios/Gallery 80808 at 803/ 252/6134 or visit (

Marriott’s SpringHill Suites in Columbia, SC, Invites You to View Works by Artists of Vista Studios at “ArtNight” – Dec. 3, 2010

December 2, 2010

Marriott’s SpringHill Suites chain today will launch “ArtNight,” an arts initiative designed to give local artists visibility in hotels while exposing guests to the local arts scene. Boutique hotels have cultivated an artsy reputation for years. But this initiative – to be launched in just two hotels – is another sign that big chains are willing to try something new to generate an artsy buzz and fight cookie-cutter perceptions.

Work by Laura Spong

Increasingly, large chains are striving to become hipper and offer guests the flavor of the community before they leave the hotel. Even when chains don’t have official programs in place, though, individual hotels in communities where emerging artists live sometimes take their own steps to incorporate the arts in some way.

“ArtNight” will take place on Dec. 3, 2010, from 3-7pm, at the Marriott’s SpringHill Suites located at 511 Lady Street, in the Vista near Huger Street in Columbia. “ArtNight” will feature works by member artists of Vista Studios/Gallery 80808, also located on Lady Street. The group is celebrating its 20th Anniversary this year.

For further information call the Marriott’s SpringHill Suites at 803/978-2333 or visit (