Experiencing growth in its art scene, Savannah's Midtown and Starland neighborhoods are poised for a sustainable future in supporting the rich community of local artists. The first Friday of every month, local businesses and galleries south of Gaston Street host the First Friday Art March, now under the direction of the dynamic young team of Desotorow Gallery, at 2424 De Soto Avenue.
Most artists have to rent exhibition space in Savannah to get recognized. You may not have known how challenging it is for the great artists of this community to display their work.
Lauren Flotte, president of the board of Desotorow Gallery, described their mission: "We're a 501C3 charitable organization that helps high-integrity artists with exhibitions. We don't want artists to constantly struggle with the monetary obstructions to showing their work locally. Our first initiative is an artists fellowship program to sponsor exhibitions for selected artists."
Ellen Waldrop, Desotorow exhibitions manager, said the first fellowship show will be in September, and applications are being accepted now at www.desotorow.org.
Steven Miller, First Friday Art March coordinator for Desotorow, talked about the challenge in promoting the vibrant south side and Starland neighborhood art scenes to tourists and claimed, "We're making a big effort to promote the Art March and all its venues in the downtown area."
The good news for out-of-town visitors is that most exhibitions in Art March venues remain up for a month or two, so if you miss the First Friday of the month, no worries. My own march started in the gallery of the Mansion on Forsyth Park Hotel, where Brian MacGregor was on hand to describe his multi-media series of works centered on the theme of drinking.
The show, "The Mixology of Paint" featured wistful depictions of travel destinations, layered cut out forms of cocktails, a "cocktail napkin" series, and images inspired by late nineteenth-century European works.
My favorite is "Manet at the Mansion," a playful riff on Eduard Manet's Bar at the Folies-Berger (ca. 1882). The iconic bartender at the Mansion, Miss Dawn, is featured in the place of Manet's bartendress, and the background contains references to other imagery in the famous work. Stop by the Mansion to order a drink from the live version of the subject, Dawn, and a tour of MacGregor's uplifting views on drinking.
Next stop was De Soto Avenue, where a group of artisans in the Indie Arts Market lined the street accompanied by live music and a presentation on Desotorow Gallery's vision for the arts by Executive Director Clinton Edminster.
Tinka Smith, a local jewelry artist showing at the Indie Arts Market, said that her efforts for helping artists through the Savannah Area Artists' Guild are paying off and, "I'm thrilled with what this group of young people is doing to help the arts here!"
North on Bull Street, Foxy Loxy Print Gallery & Cafe, and Sentient Bean both hosted artists in their artsy atmospheres. The gang at Foxy Loxy was lively as usual, and three SCAD alumni, Elmer Ramos, Benjamin Carl Stanley, and Kay Wolfersperger, showed their amusing graphic works of print art they produce in their DeSoto Avenue studio, The Maker Collective.
The new kids on the block over at Sicky Nar Nar (if you surf, you know this means sick and really gnarly) hosted a pair of young artists in their fresh and fun space on Duffy at Barnard Street.
Logan Crable, a Sicky Nar Nar founder, announced plans to open up Nar Bar within the gallery in September: "Nar Bar will be a total slow-brewed coffee experience. We're working out the details with local roaster Perc Coffee to make this a gourmet brewed-coffee house, but the art is always going to come first for us. Nar Bar won't overshadow the Sicky Nar Nar artists at all."
I lunched earlier at Starland Café—always a winning idea—and marveled at the abstract paintings by Kate Green on display through July. A stop by Art March venue the Black Orchid Tattoo Shop and Gallery can leave you with a portable work of art by one of several world-class tattoo artists in Savannah, or just a chance to marvel at this form of art.