"We want to think about how the store could be more of a platform for artists who live here," says Nathanson. The Gibbes shop (they can have that one) is located on the first floor of the museum. Like the rest of the ground floor, the store is free to visit, and Nathanson hopes that it can become a special go-to spot for people looking for local art in town.
Nathanson and Lasley Steever, Gibbes' director of adult programs and digital engagement, want to bring both new local artists into the museum store — and expand their engagement with former, current, and future visiting artists.
The visiting artists program at the Gibbes features six-eight South Carolina-based artists every year who spend 4-6 weeks in residency at the Gibbes, creating work that is connected either to the Gibbes permanent collection or to a special exhibition.
Former visiting artists like Alex Waggoner, Adam Eddy, and Leigh Magar (aka Madame Magar) currently have items for sale in the store — which is exactly the desired outcome of Nathanson's new initiatives.
"It's all about the first floor," says Nathanson. "A lot of people don't realize that it's admission free. We want to raise awareness and have people think of the Gibbes as a great place to visit with an artist, shop for a gift, and really utilize the building as a local spot."
Get a taste of what these visiting artists and the museum store has to offer at a special talk on Thurs. April 25, 6-7 p.m. You'll hear from former, current, and future visiting artists, Alex Waggoner, Adam Eddy, and Fletcher Williams III at Connect, Collab, Collect: Artistic Enterprises at the Gibbes Museum. The talk is totally free — just be sure to register ahead of time.
The artists will go over what they did during their residency (or what they're doing now), showing how the visiting artist program has reached beyond just a 4-6 week stint. For example, Waggoner currently has pieces — mini portraits of Charleston buildings — available for purchase in the museum.
The portraits Waggoner created were inspired by the museum itself — mainly its massive collection of miniature portraits, the third largest in the nation.
"Having work in the gift shop that relates to my time at the Gibbes helps to continue the conversation about the impact of the residency on my career," says Waggoner.
"I am so grateful to be able to point people to the Gibbes not only to see an amazing collection of art and the architecture of the building, but also as a place to purchase original artwork from Charleston artists at a price-point that is not available in most Charleston galleries."
- Tim Hussey, a current visiting artist at the Gibbes, emcees Thursday's event.
Women's Council president Andrea Woodfield and Ceara Donnelley, an interior designer at Ceara Donnelley Ltd. Co., will discuss plans for the store's transformation and integration with the Visiting Artist program. Attendees will have the chance to win limited edition items through a raffle.
"We're telling people how they can support visiting artists and the store transformation," says Nathanson. "We really want this store for people who say, 'I want to know what's happening with artists in Charleston.'"
Nathanson's hopes the museum and the store will someday source 100 percent of its work locally, from T-shirts being printed in town to gift-able soaps being created by a local company (Motherland Essentials).
Earlier this week, the Gibbes announced a call for local artists to apply to collaborate with the museum, both for the visiting artist program and for the chance to have their work featured in the museum's store.
In a press release Gibbes executive director Angela Mack said, "The Gibbes is a one-stop-shop for quintessential Charleston art, culture, history and shopping, so what better way to honor this mission than by collaborating with more local artists."
Learn more about the Gibbes, the visiting artist program, and this Thursday's event online at gibbesmuseum.org.