Meet the Remarkable Artists Heading to South Carolina’s Lowcountry

Palmetto Bluff’s inaugural Artist in Residence program explores Southern art and ingenuity

smithsonian.com

South Carolina’s Palmetto Bluff is Lowcountry at its best. Part conservation preserve and part residential community, the Bluff connects guests to more than 32 miles of historic coastline. Here, forest, marshes and waterways meet to create a distinctive and inspiring natural environment. Nature trails weave through canopies of Spanish moss, neotropical birds fill the air with song, and the May River twists and turns through the hearts of outdoorsmen.

Founded in 2003 to protect the land's natural and historical wealth, the Palmetto Bluff Conservancy also connects residents to Lowcountry culture. “As the community has grown, we have become more engaged in education and experiential opportunities – getting our residents and guests involved in exploring the environment and thinking about ways they can protect it,” says Jay Walea, director of the Conservancy. “People get really excited about the ecology and history here. We’ve grown from a handful of programs each year to more than 100, to sellout crowds.”

The recently completed Moreland Village, home to the Conservancy headquarters, has sprung to life with the Artist in Residence initiative​. Designed in partnership with Garden & Gun magazine to explore Southern art and ingenuity, the inaugural program invites notable guests, including winners of Garden & Gun’s Made in the South Awards, to stay on the property. “One of the things I am most proud of at Palmetto Bluff is that while we believe it is indeed the best place to experience the Lowcountry of South Carolina, we also don’t endeavor to provide those experiences on our own. The value comes in the partnerships we curate and the relationships we grow with guides, educators, artisans, makers and sometimes media,” a Palmetto Bluffs spokesperson says.

Artists will take up residence in the beautiful, light-filled Artist Cottage. Here, they can can relax, revitalize and continue to hone their craft while hosting workshops for Palmetto Bluff residents and guests, teaching classes in everything from cooking and cocktailing to jewelry and paddleboarding. 

The first residency of 2017 in February was a huge success. Master fly rod maker Bill Oyster shared the art of building, hand engraving and casting bamboo rods. In the Southern mountain town of Blue Ridge, Georgia, Oyster leads fly rod making courses that attract fishermen from as far as England and Scotland. Activities during his stay at Palmetto Bluff included a meet-and-greet at the Artist Cottage, fly rod making demonstrations, gallery hours, casting lessons, fly tying workshops, an expert-guided fly fishing adventure and farewell fish fry. Upcoming residencies promise to be equally rewarding. 

The Artist in Residence cottage at Palmetto Bluff was designed with a fresh take on the Lowcountry architectural aesthetic, creating rooms that are inviting, interesting, inspiring, and unpretentious. Its Red Piano Art Gallery features some of the best-known Southern artists working today, including Jonathan Green, Betty Anglin Smith, Mandy Johnson, Addison Palmer and Mark Stewart.
Master fly rod maker Bill Oyster from Blue Ridge, Georgia, kicked off the 2017 Artist in Residence program.
Oyster began his residency with a meet-and-greet at the Artist Cottage.
Oyster's bamboo fly rod making courses attract fishermen from as far as England and Scotland.
Oyster walks guests through his fly rod making process.

Discover some of the remarkable makers heading to Palmetto Bluff this year:

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