A Springtime primer from the Arts Council for everyone who’s ever wanted to collect art

Collecting art in the Lowcountry is like casting a net for shrimp— there are favored spots, but no shortage of water; the process uses both hands and teeth, grip and grit; and the catch is historically, reliably authentic. But it still takes courage to pull on the metaphorical rubber boots of being an art collector and feel like it’s do-able financially and socially: the fun opening receptions require some thought about wardrobe (seasonal scarves, wine-stain resistant fabrics), and then there’s the whole issue of where it will fit, and how to hang it, and will this piece of eye-catching art be a good investment, worth the money? This Spring in Beaufort County is a good time to cast a net for new art and find out.shopping-stephenkishel

“I bought my first oil painting when I was sixteen,” explained Reggie Przybysz, the owner of Art & Soul Gallery in the Old Bay Marketplace on Bay Street in Beaufort. “I still love that painting and I will always treasure it. Our furnishings at home tend to be fairly neutral on purpose, so that the artwork can be the focus. Over the years we have added more original paintings, a number of pottery pieces both functional and decorative, sculptural and mixed media pieces. Most have been purchased, but a few have been created by my husband Greg and myself. But there’s still room, so I’m always on the lookout for those pieces that feed my soul.”

Reggie’s gallery is part of Spring ArtWalk, a moment for collectors and admirers throughout downtown Beaufort on March 27th. Visit the county-wide calendar at beaufortcountyarts.com to find more events, such as the Artstravaganza at The Gallery on March 20th, also on Bay Street, or the large format photography show at Mira Scott’s Picture This Gallery in Hilton Head that begins April 1.

“My advice for collectors is very simple and an approach shared by many: Buy what you love. Look around at a variety of artwork. It will become obvious what sort of work appeals to you,” Reggie said. “If you love what you buy, it will give you much enjoyment over the years and you’ll always find a place for it. If you try to predict which pieces will greatly increase in value, you may be disappointed because there are no guarantees of future value.”

Enjoyment is the key to collecting art, which is why the Arts Council of Beaufort County tools for collectors and artists: a county-wide calendar online 24/7, the conversational and informative ARTsbiz series, the civilized President’s circle series, and the spacious gallery @ ARTworks,

ARTsbiz is a series of informative workshops about the business of art: this April, the artists that fill the galleries and festivals are encouraged to attend sessions @ ARTworks on Social Media & Marketing and Disaster Preparedness & Business Continuity (where the first twenty artists will receive a free Studio Protector, courtesy of the SC Arts Commission, and no it’s not a prophylactic tarp.) On Tuesday, April 27th, though, there’s a session for artists and collectors with Martha Ahrens, renowned curator, exhibit designer, collector, and the recipient of the arts council’s 2009 Town of Hilton Head Mayor’s Award for the Arts. She will speak about the many unexpected benefits of art-collection for Beaufort County’s creative class, including how to start and build a collection in the Lowcountry and the history of why artists should collect too.

shopping-uri-terrybrennanThe President’s Circle is a chance to see private art collections in Lowcountry homes. Silkscreens in their foyers, masterpieces in the master bedrooms, sculpture on the patio, as well as guest artists, refreshments, and stories of the hunt. Only 20 tickets are available (that’s where grip and grit comes in) at only $20 each (that accessibility is where the arts council comes in.) Coming up: April 29th hosted by Eileen Doherty, and May 13 hosted by Fran and Dennis Nolan. Mark your calendar, watch for upcoming articles about these gracious host-collectors, and if you get to attend, meet the person who puts the “President” into the Circle, Deanna Bowdish, president of the board of the arts council.

At the spacious gallery @ ARTworks however, no reservations are required— business hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 11 to 6, and Saturdays from 11 to 3pm. March is Youth Art Month, surprisingly good but not for sale, and April offers big, colorful multimedia 3D pieces. Stephen Kishel’s show, “Modern Art: Morning, Noon, & Night” opens with a free reception with the artist on Friday April 2nd, 6-8pm. He’s getting quite collectible, his most recent commission was four large polished stainless steel figurative works titled “Family Time Gathering,” installed at the Bravern in Bellevue, Washington between Neiman Marcus and The Microsoft Towers in November 2009. Hm!

Then, on Saturday, April 3, Deanna Bowdish has planned another enjoyable acquisition moment and party: Art on a Big Scale, live @ ARTworks with North Myrtle Beach artist Terry Brennan, who creates bigger-than-life blue crabs and fast fish that are composed of bits, color, chunks and depths. Guests are encouraged to bring in recyclable items– from bottle caps to aerosol cans to plates–  for artist Brennan to use as he creates upcycled art like Angelfish Assemblages and Wahoo Wall-Hangings right there on the spot. At this $25 per ticket ($50 per family) fundraiser for the arts council, guests will also enjoy kids activities, music, a creative atmosphere, and refreshments— and a chance in the prize drawing is included in each entry ticket.

“Deanna convinced me that everyone can afford an original piece of art,’’ explained Brian Stevens, a Pigeon Point resident who originally collected antique furniture and silver. “I had a roommate who was an interior designer who was all over me to go beyond antiques. Then my neighbor Ava got on the bandwagon and introduced me to Deanna, who lives two blocks away.” His collection is now one of the best neighborhood beautifications stories ever.

From its office in ARTworks in Beaufort Town Center, the Arts Council of Beaufort County promotes and nurtures the arts 365 days a year, and works as an independent, non-profit service organization that is not a function of the Beaufort County government. http://www.beaufortcountyarts.com, 843-379-2787.