For the past 28 years, Artista Vista has drawn talented artists as well as the multi-creative to savvy collectors and enthusiastic festivalgoers. Plans are for year 29 to be a refreshed, diverse arts-filled weekend with something offered for everyone. Dates for the 2020 event are to be determined.
“Expectations are for this to become the city’s largest and most full-scale art festival,” says Abby Naas, executive director of the Congaree Vista Guild.
This year the free Light & Lantern Parade kicks off the three-consecutive-day festival on Friday. Prior to the evening parade, attendees will have the opportunity to view creative lanterns and participate in workshops to make and decorate their own.
After dark, a section of the Vista by the Lincoln Street Tunnel will be closed to traffic and the Light & Lantern Parade will take place — anyone can walk in the parade carrying handmade or unique lanterns and lights or dress imaginatively in a light-themed outfit. Galleries will also be open during the parade as part of the Artista Vista gallery crawl. Attendees are encouraged to explore all that the Vista has to offer — from art galleries to restaurants and shops — as they enjoy the evening’s festivities.
“We give prizes for the best lights and lanterns,” says Abby. “Some people wear their ugly light-up Christmas sweaters or adorn themselves in blinking white lights. It’s just a fun way to express artistic and creative uniqueness.”
Saturday is Art Party. Because the Congaree Vista is an official South Carolina Arts & Cultural District, it is where the all-day and into-the-evening gallery crawl takes place. Galleries present new works and provide complimentary beverages and hors d’oeuvres. Additional vendors, art projects, demonstrations, hands-on activities, and food trucks will be set up in the green space outside of Stormwater Studios, and live music will fill the air in galleries and around the Vista.
“Stormwater Studios will host a show in its gallery,” says Abby. “One Eared Cow Glass will be open, as will Lewis + Clark. Clark Ellefson, the ‘Clark’ in Lewis + Clark, will also be unveiling a new piece near Huger Street. It’s a great opportunity to show the tremendous talent residing in the district.”
Saturday evening culminates with a ticketed dinner at the entrance of the Lincoln Street Tunnel that will be catered by noteworthy chefs brought to the event by Sarah Simmons of smallSUGAR, a café located in the Vista.
Sunday is Crafty Feast, an outdoor craft fair located close to the Lincoln Street Tunnel. The event is free to the public and features 50 of the most original artists in the region showcasing creative one-of-a-kind crafts. The first Crafty Feast was held on May 30, 2009. Debi Schadel, co-founding partner of Flock and Rally, developed the concept of Crafty Feast to enable craftspeople from across the Southeast to participate in a juried indie craft fair and to provide opportunities for the general public to experience a wide range of crafts from a select group of premium artisans.
Abby explains that the Vista became synonymous with art by the early 1980s, when artists moved studios to the area because of affordable, abandoned warehouse space. “This event is important for the community because Columbia has a rich arts culture that should be celebrated,” she says. “It is important to acknowledge this history and continue to encourage the creativity of those artists today.”
Artista Vista brings thousands of locals and visitors alike to the Congaree Vista in celebration of the district’s rich arts and culture scene, and there should be no shortage of guests this year with three days full of new, free art-centered events.
Artista Vista takes place anywhere from Gervais Street to Assembly to Hampton and in between. A complimentary shuttle takes festivalgoers from Lincoln Street to Huger Street and back. A map of the Vista, along with additional information, is available at vistacolumbia.com.