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Our Local Community Art Spot
The Seacoast Artists Gallery in The Market Common 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 amongst artists in the Grand Strand area.
The Seacoast Artists Gallery was started about six years ago by the Seacoast Artists Guild. The gallery functions as an artist and art-lovers community spot where guild members can showcase their pieces to the public, as well as convene to share ideas and give and receive support. Today, the guild has over 300 members from a wide geographical area that encompasses the Grand Strand, Calabash, as far south as Charleston, inland to Columbia, as well as out of state.
The guild holds monthly meetings as well as presentations on art topics by a guest lecturer, affording members the opportunity to meet and develop relationships with other artists.
“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,” says Nick Mariano, the gallery’s new director. “Covid-19 has put a temporary halt to these meetings but we hope to resume them when things improve.”
Nick took over the position of director two months ago. A former special agent with the State Department, Nick and his wife lived all over the world, traveling for 11 years, before Nick retired in 1996 and they moved to Myrtle Beach.
“I’ve always taken pictures, but my travels inspired me to take more,” he says of how he found himself in the Myrtle Beach art scene. “My wife Pat is an artist too, and encouraged me to submit my pictures to art shows.”
Over the years, Nick has produced a wide range of visual art, and has won many awards both locally and nationally. His newest hobby is writing books; he’s published over twenty on Amazon, including his autobiography.
As director, Nick’s main goal is to share with the community everything that the Seacoast Artists Gallery, which is the biggest repository of art along the Grand Strand, has to offer.
“The gallery hosts a wide variety of art,” he says. “We have beach and landscape photography and paintings; long murals that portray the current political climate in America as well as traditional still lives; photography; bronze castings; ceramics and pottery and handmade ceramic earrings; glass blown sculptures; and sculptures made from old instruments. This is not your typical gallery. It’s quite a lot of fun. We have over 70 artists and many mediums with new offerings every month. There is something here for every taste and every budget.
“We have art classes that are open to the public in a lot of different mediums, which we’re hoping to recommence by November. I’m trying to draw more people walking by off the street and into our gallery. Many people stop and look in the window, but they don’t come inside. We want people to come in even if they’re not looking for art; just stop in, come meet us, look around, and appreciate what we have to offer. We are not intimidating. We want everyone to feel welcome to simply come and see the artistic expression of our local community.”
As part of his effort to add a fresh vibe to the gallery and attract more visitors, Nick selects an artist who is not affiliated with either the guild or the gallery and showcases their work as a featured visiting artist throughout the month.
“Many of the artists aren’t sure they want to be shown in a gallery, but I think their art is so good, I give them the space to try it out. I’m also displaying monster-size art pieces in the gallery windows to catch the eye of bypassers; and rotate this art every two weeks.
“We’re putting together videos to promote the gallery; and are highlighting an artist per day on our Facebook page. It’s a nice way of promoting the artist and sharing with everyone what the artist has been up to, as well as getting people interested in what the gallery holds. People from out of state are beginning to notice, and are wanting to join the guild or display in the gallery.”
“I’m really enjoying coming up with new ideas to entice visitors,” he adds. “I’ve brought in cloth face masks from artists in California, and those have been very popular. I’m really looking forward to a time when there can be a reception in person.”
For Nick, the purpose isn’t just to sell art, but to afford people the chance to see it.
“It’s not about trying to get people to buy things. We just want people to know that we’re here. We’re one of the bigger art galleries, and we showcase teaching artists— many of whom have won numerous awards.”
In keeping with their mission of supporting and promoting artists of all ages, the guild offers two annual scholarships of $1,000 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.
Funding for the guild’s operational costs, as well as the scholarships, comes from guild members’ dues and art sales.
The gallery hosts two art shows, one in the spring and one in the fall— usually April and October, respectively. The shows are open to anyone, not just gallery or guild members, and juried by two artists from outside the area; winners receive prizes for their work.
“Right now we’re in the process of getting ready for our Fall Art Show that begins in October and runs from October 2-15,” says Nick.
The Waccamaw Arts and Crafts Guild bi-annual art show always directly follows the show sponsored by the Seacoast Artist Gallery. In the fall, this show is held at the gallery; in the spring, at the Burroughs-Simeon B. Chapin Art Museum. Both are free and open to the public.
“We want to be a gallery that serves our community,” Nick says. “It is surprising that many people who have lived in the area for years still don’t know that there is an art gallery in the Market Common. We hope that after they read this article, they’ll stop by and see the various categories of art that we have on display and for sale.”
Visit their website or store or sign up for their email list to be notified about current classes and events. Classes tentatively scheduled to resume in November.