Visitors strolling through Old Town Bluffton can spice up their social media feeds now thanks to a pair of colorful murals on the walls of the front porch at the Society of Bluffton Artists gallery. The fun photo opportunities at the corner of Calhoun and Church streets are the result of a collaboration between SoBA artist/board member Steve Gregar and a group of Bluffton High School students under the guidance of visual arts teacher Kristen Munroe.
Inspired by a video he saw on YouTube, Gregar decided to create interactive murals and involve young artists in the project. With the approval of the SoBA Board and Bluffton High School administration — and financial support from Corner Perk owner Josh Cooke — the project was launched. But as is the case with many things during the current coronavirus pandemic, the project hit some snags.
“The virus screwed up the school schedule but Kristen persevered,” Gregar says. “What would have been a monumental task under ordinary times, Kristen pulled off during a pandemic. She is the real hero of the story.”
Planning for the murals began in the Spring of 2020, and the group of 15 students began to work on them in October. Because social distancing measures had to be observed, only a few students could work on the murals at a given time. One of the murals is a garden scene with a large set of brightly colored monarch butterfly wings that people can “wear” for their photo op.
“I’m really happy with the results,” says Munroe.
The other mural is a three-dimensional piece that shows an ocean scene full of Lowcountry species — spadefish, redfish, blue crabs and turtles. It is an action photo opportunity for guests, as they can attach themselves to a hook being dangled from a sea turtle’s mouth.
“The murals are not like I envisioned — they are actually much better than I expected,” Gregar says, giving most of the credit to the
students. “They should be very proud.”
“We are thrilled to be working with the youth in our community,” adds SoBA president Mary Ann Burgeson. “I think this mural gave them something positive and fun to do while waiting for our new ‘normal’ to appear.”
The murals won’t be the only work of the Bluffton High art students on display at the gallery, as SoBA has selected them to be the Featured Artists for March. From March 2 to April 3, a wide array of the students’ art will be on exhibit and for sale inside the gallery, ranging from paintings and drawings to photography.
“The SoBA Gallery has just been so wonderful,” says Munroe. “They very much want to be involved with the local students and support them.”