Uptown Arts Drive Taking Shape Nicely
April 16, 2006
By JOSEPH SITARZ
Index-Journal Features/Accent Editor
Almost everyone knows the story behind baseball’s “Field of Dreams.” For those who don’t, a cornfield in Iowa is turned into a baseball diamond because a middle America farmer heard the words, “If you build it, they will come.”
And come they did. Fans flocked to the field in droves. So did some of the greatest names in baseball history. While many thought the farmer was crazy, he kept his faith and followed what he believed.
Greenwood has its own version of “Field of Dreams.” It has nothing to do with corn cobs or baseball gloves. Instead, it has to do with acrylics and artifacts, with digital and drawing and with music and musings. What is it?
The Arts Center at the Federal Building in Uptown Greenwood, of course. Arts Council Executive Director Anne Craig, whose new home is in the building, has worked for years to get and arts center in Uptown, and more specifically, into the Federal Building.
Around the office, I’ve referred to the building as the “Anne Mahal” – combining Craig’s name and the Taj Mahal, in honor of the building’s gold-capped dome. The Arts Center at the Federal Building became a reality through hard work and support of businesses, foundations, organizations, officials, and individuals. The corner of Main and Oregon Avenue is well on its way to becoming a Mecca for the arts in Uptown.
The Arts Center at the Federal Building anchors the ambitious bigger Emerald Triangle Project that’s planned to revitalize Uptown. There’s also Museum and Greenwood Community Theatre side-by-side to the Arts Center at the Federal Building.
Those two facilities have gotten new leadership within the last six months.
Matt Edwards is at the helm of the Museum and the Railroad Historic Center just out of Uptown on South Main. He brought some interesting ideas with him to the job.
Beth Park Reynolds (of the famed Park Seed Parks) was named Greenwood Community Theatre artistic director just this week. Her eagerness should go a long way in bringing the theatre back to life.
The drive for the arts Uptown isn’t just confined to one corner.
Perhaps one of the most visionary people in the entire puzzle is Greenwood Assistant City Manager Charlie Barrineau. I’m not sure how he does what he does, or how he does everything that goes beyond his job description. I know I get worn out just listening to him.
It’s through his guidance and sweat that many events in Uptown have been so successful. Live After Five concerts, Rock ‘N Roll Cruisers cruise-ins, Sounds Around Uptown, pro cycling competition, progressive dinners (at Inn on the Square, Uptown Sushi, Frankglens, and T.W. Boons), South Carolina Festival of Flowers and Festival of Discovery/Blues Cruise are just a few of the events drawing people Uptown.
The folks at Jimary Java Café recently opted to be guinea pigs for a “Hometown Genius” arts and music event. More than 200 people attended the art show/concert and gave organizers reason to be optimistic about future events.
Dr. Bob Taylor opened a gallery Uptown highlighting Greenwood artists, his own works and art from his years of collecting. Visitors are always in for a treat there.
Photographer Jon Holloway is working on opening a gallery/studio on Maxwell Avenue. If it’s anything like his former gallery/studio on Grace Street, Holloway’s little slice of Uptown will be a happenin’ place.
For years now, Countybank has been collecting artwork of Greenwood artists. Countybank has showcased the art during the Jazzfest that’s part of the South Carolina Festival of Flowers. Today, visitors can see the works in the Countybank Gallery at the Arts Center at the Federal Building. An opening reception last week was a hit.
The most recent predecessors at the Museum and Greenwood Community Theatre need to be commended for their efforts during their tenure. They helped steer the arts scene in a direction many thought could never be possible.
Next weekend will be a big step in the history of the Arts Center at the Federal Building.
The words, “If you build it, they will come,” have been uttered by many behind making the Arts Center at the Federal Building a reality. Now, Greenwood, it’s time to come.
Some “official” grand opening activities geared for all ages are planned for the Arts Center at the Federal Building.
Make time to spend part of Saturday at the Arts Center at the Federal Building and become a part of Greenwood’s “Field of Dreams.”
Joseph Sitarz can be reached at (864) 943-2529 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.