Opening an art gallery is no small feat. It takes time, effort, talent and attention to detail. And it always helps to have a bit of good fortune on your side, too. Thankfully, when it came time for the Mount Pleasant Artists’ Guild (MPAG) to open a gallery space, fortune favored the endeavor.
“The Guild is blessed with a lot of good artists,” gallery director and artist Becky Taylor says. “When I arrived in Mount Pleasant six years ago, I couldn’t believe there wasn’t a gallery to represent them. So, I got to know the members and told them they needed something bigger. I kept telling them, ‘The dream should be to open a gallery.’”
Together with the leadership of the guild’s president, Deedee Conant, the gallery opened on May 22, 2017, a little over a year ago. Everyone “jumped in and got it done,” Taylor says. “The space is perfect; it’s designed to exhibit art.” Michael Kennedy, artist, guild member and marketing director, agrees. After all, he sold a painting the first day the gallery opened—another sign of good karma.
“Everyone was excited, because a lot of our artists exhibit in other galleries,” Kennedy says. “Here, you’ve got your own wall space and more control over what’s hanging up and what is available. It’s a professional space with a professional group of artists.”
Professional is only one way to describe Perspective Gallery. A dozen other adjectives work: cozy, vibrant, rich, warm. The walls are lined with evocative, colorful art from a group of multitalented artists.
In all, MPAG has 165-plus members, and Perspective Gallery has 46 artists, all of whom exhibit and work in the gallery. Together, the artists come from locations as far away as Ukraine and as near as Charleston. The pedigree of artists in the gallery is not only a selling point for the guild but also offers an incredible experience for patrons.
“We have all kinds of mediums and subject matter,” Taylor says. “It’s a real treat to walk in and see the different ways our artists paint their subjects. What we’ve found is that people mostly want Lowcountry, local subject matter. That makes it fun to sell the paintings.”
Though not exclusively dedicated to Lowcountry scenes and subjects, Perspective Gallery offers plenty of options in that realm. Whether it’s the oil-painted marsh scenes and cityscapes of Judy Walters, the crisp flowers and gardens of Pat Michaud, the bold figures of Mila Koenig or Taylor’s and Kennedy’s coastal works, viewing art at Perspective Gallery is a memorable, unique experience for art lovers.
The ample wall space enhances the aesthetics of the gallery, which is comfortable, well lit and spacious. What’s more, many artists choose to paint in the gallery nearly every day. That means any time you visit, you can watch artists at work—an experience that demystifies the process of making art and reveals the human side of the artists.
“We want people to feel comfortable, not uptight,” Kennedy says. “We’re normal people, too—we just paint paintings. That’s our thing. We don’t want people to be scared or think they have to be quiet. We know how to have fun.”
In addition to fun, however, MPAG works hard to promote appreciation of the visual arts in the East Cooper community, through speakers, workshops and exhibits, not only at the gallery but also at other venues, such as Art Fest and the Blessing of the Fleet. The guild also awards multiple scholarships every year to high school seniors. Members of the guild promote art education, art therapy and invite schoolchildren to visit the gallery and watch artists work.
“People have discovered us and that we have talented artists and great artwork,” Kennedy says.
And that is always something to celebrate.
Scott Elingburg is a freelance writer in Charleston.