The streets of Market Common invite strolling and browsing, and the lovely art gallery on Nevers Street is harmonious with that tempo— giving us all one more reason to take pleasure in the beauty and diversity of this place.
The Seacoast Artists Gallery was started about three and a half years ago by the Seacoast Artists Guild. The gallery functions as an artist and art-lovers community spot where artists can showcase their pieces to the public, as well as convene to share ideas and give and receive support.
“We were looking for a venue in Myrtle Beach,” Woody Bower, president of the Artists Guild and director of the gallery tells me, “and the Market Common management team was looking and hoping for a gallery to come into the area; it worked out to both of our advantages.”
The Seacoast Artists Gallery is a non-profit 501 c 3, created for the furtherance and development of the arts in the Myrtle Beach area. It’s an organization which exists to create an atmosphere of cooperation, sharing, and mentoring between artists in the Grand Strand area.
The artists guild began as a small group of artists in Pawleys Island in 2003. “We had about 15 members,” Woody says. “And now we have 300 members from up and down the Grand Strand— north, south, and west. We have members as far as Calabash, as far south as the Isle of Palms, the Charleston area, and inland as far as Columbia.”
Woody is a photographer, and grew up in up- state New York. He’s lived all over the country, and moved to Myrtle Beach in 2003, “because,” he tells me laughingly, “it was the only option my wife gave me for retirement. She’s from eastern North Carolina, Red Springs. I joined the guild around 2009. I was asked in 2010 if I would serve on the board, and then I was elected president the following year.”
Sharon Sorrels, an oil and watercolor painter also serves on the board: “The guild to me has been a great place to meet other artists and I have gained many friends— that’s important to me, being new to the area.”
“The guild holds meetings monthly,” Woody tells me, “we have monthly presentations on art topics by a guest lecturer, and the opportunity for members to meet and develop relationships with other artists. Artists like to hang out together, learn together, and make art together. That’s the purpose of a guild. We want to make sure we have a place for local artists to congregate, to mingle and mix and mentor each other, and share their skills with other artists in the area.”
“Myrtle Beach doesn’t have a lot of art galleries,” he continues, “and this is where a majority of our members are. We wanted to offer our members this market as well as a community venue.”
You don’t have to be an artist to be a member of the guild. The annual membership fee is $30, and those who simply enjoy art, or want to be a part of the community can join.
“In joining the guild,” Sharon says, “I met other artists who had the same interests I did. It’s a chance to share skills, methods, and ideas about the materials we use. And the gallery has offered me a space to display my art and sell it. That has helped me.”
Those guild members interested in having their work placed in the gallery make submissions to a jury committee of highly skilled artists for review. Those who are accepted are put on a waiting list until a spot opens. The gallery is currently displaying works from 75 of its guild members.
“The gallery here is the biggest repository of art along the Grand Strand,” Woody tells me.
And it covers a diverse array of mediums— from painting, pottery, photography, and wood carvings, to 3-d fused glass, and sculptures made from old band instruments.
“Art gives me a chance to show others how I see things,” says Sharon. “I always say that lots of artists can look at one thing, a tree for example, and present it in many different ways. Art gives me a way to communicate. I communicate through my paintings. It’s a way to share opinions, whether they’re political, social or just personal.”
There is a classroom in the gallery where adult classes in subjects like life studies with figure drawing, water color, acrylic and oil painting, are offered to guild members and the public. Classes are limited to ages 16 and over, and are for beginners as well as more advanced students.
“We’re not trying to make money, but to be a venue for artists and young artists to grow,” Woody tells me. “Because we’re a non-profit, we’re not driven by sales.”
In keeping with their mission, the guild offers annual scholarships: “We provide two $1,000 scholarships a year to high school seniors who are pursuing the field of art in college to help them further their art education— one to a Horry County student, and one to a Georgetown County student,” Woody explains.
Funding for the guild’s operational costs as well as the scholarships comes from their members. They also have two annual craft show fundraisers in the spring and the fall— usually April and September respectively. Art in Common, as it’s called, is open to any artists in the region. The artists pay a fee to join the show, which supports the guild, and the guild handles publicity and organizes the event, offering artists a venue to display their crafts and sell their work.
“Right now we’re in the process of developing another fundraiser in the fall, in the second half of October, a silent auction event,” Woody shares.
“We like to say that there is something here for every taste, and for every budget,” Woody concludes, speaking of the gallery.
“We want to be a gallery that serves our community,” Sharon shares. “We hope people will stop by and join our open houses and have a little refreshment and realize that we enjoy being a part of this community.”
The Seacoast Artist Gallery
The Seacoast Artist Gallery is located at 3032 Nevers Street, in the Market Common. They are open Monday-Saturday 10am-6pm & Sunday noon-6pm; 843-232-7009, www.seacoast-artistsguild.com. Visit their website for the schedule of art classes and open house events. Sign up for their email list to stay current about their activities.
Interested in the arts? Check out our feature on the Myrtle Beach International Film Festival!