The longtime best friends were essential to the Bluffton arts community.
Before there were art galleries in Old Town Bluffton, local artists had only one platform to sell their works: the annual Mayfest. That was 30 years ago. Today, Calhoun Street’s art corridor is a huge draw for local artists who want to showcase their works. It’s also a popular destination for visitors and locals.
This wouldn’t have been possible without the efforts of Lynda Potter and Peggy Duncan, two best friends who were among the founding members of The Society of Bluffton Artists (SOBA) and who jump-started several art galleries in the area. Their contributions to making Bluffton’s art district what it is today are undeniable, say family and friends.
“They were always promoting artists. They taught classes. They tried to share their resources, time and talent,” said Laura Barrett, a Bluffton interior designer and Peggy’s close friend, adding, “Bluffton is a destination for people interested in the Arts. Peggy and Lynda were part of the reason why.”
Duncan and Potter were best friends and neighbors who worked together to foster an appreciation for art in every form. They died within one month of each other this spring.
SOBA will hold a special event honoring Lynda Potter and Peggy Duncan at 7 p.m. July 9 at The SOBA Art School, located next door to the art gallery on the corner of Calhoun and Church Streets. The public is invited and will have an opportunity to view a sampling of their art, along with a slideshow of memories.
“Lynda believed that individuals should explore their creative juices without equivocation and without restraint,” said Steve Potter, Lynda’s husband of 63 years this month. Together, they had five children.
Steve Potter said he was lucky to witness his wife in action, observing from the back of one of her art classes. “It was a wonderful experience to watch her. She knew how to cajole people into being expressive and creative on their own. I think that’s what a good teacher does,” he said.
Potter worked with a variety of art media. She switched between acrylics and
watercolors, often using both to create complex, multi-layered mixed-media pieces. Potter was known for painting rich, rhythmic floral pieces, as well as loose, atmospheric architectural works based on the historic houses of Savannah, Georgia and Bluffton.
With more than 35 solo shows and various awards and prizes, Potter has had her art published in five books and is listed in the national register’s Who’s Who in Executives and Professionals in the 2003-2004 edition.
Duncan opened one of Bluffton’s first art galleries in 1985, called “A Little Local Color” and located in the back side of where the Bluffton Pharmacy is now. Duncan also opened the first framing business in Bluffton. Later, Peggy rebranded and moved to a larger location, known as Crossroads Fine Art and Framing. Duncan and her late husband Jonathan Nelson, also a talented painter, owned and operated Crossroads until early 2001 when they moved again to Calhoun Street, renaming to Pluff Mudd Gallery. Duncan also founded La Petite Gallerie on Calhoun and Artist House Too gallery in North Carolina.
Murray Sease, a local artist and member of SOBA, worked closely with Duncan to be part of a new Bluffton gallery venture, and she took her very first art workshop led by Potter.
“Two of the most important ladies in my art world passed away within weeks of each other,” Sease said. “As much as I miss them both, I like to think of these two friends in the next world happily painting together again.”
About The Society of Bluffton Artists:
SOBA is the heart of the flourishing art hub in Old Town Bluffton’s historic district at the corner of Church and Calhoun streets. As a non-profit art organization, SOBA offers regular art classes, featured artist shows, exhibitions, scholarships, outreach programs and more. The gallery is open from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and 11 a.m.-3 p.m. on Sundays. Please visit www.sobagallery.com for a complete calendar of events and other information or call 843-757-6586.