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Meet the Remarkable Artists Heading to South Carolina’s Lowcountry
Palmetto Bluff’s inaugural Artist in Residence program explores Southern art and ingenuity
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.
Discover some of the remarkable makers heading to Palmetto Bluff this year:
Joe Raya, March 27-April 2: Joe and MariElena Raya of Bittermilk sought to simplify the process of making craft cocktails at home so they created a line of cocktail mixers made for cocktail enthusiasts and bartenders with real ingredients.
Chris Hastings, April 24-30: Owner and executive chef of Hot & Hot Fish Club in Birmingham, Alabama, Chris Hastings is a decorated chef and avid outdoorsman. As a side gig, Chris handcrafts woodcook feather lapel and hat pins from his hunts in Nova Scotia and around the world.
Leigh Magar, May 15-28: Charleston-based artist Leigh Magar, previously of Magar Hatworks, is the founder of a new and exciting small-batch label, Madame Magar, inspired by Eliza Lucas Pinckney who brought indigo to the Lowcountry and made it a cash crop in the mid-1700s.
The label explores fashion, art, performance, and history. Magar grows indigo and other dye plants for use in her collections, interweaving nature and design. Applying simple sewing techniques, she creates one-of-a-kind hand-dyed and hand-stitched cotton dresses, accessories, and other sculptural art-fashion pieces.
R.J. Murray, June 5-9: Established in 2009 after a sudden loss of their younger brother, R.J. and Justin Murray set out to make their lifelong dream of opening a surf shop a reality. Three Brothers Boards specializes in handmade wooden stand-up paddleboards inspired by the classic boards of the 1950’s and 1960’s and are made with planks of oak, redwood, and Hawaiin koa.
Martha McMillin, July 10-16: Preserving Place is a unique “farm to store” retail concept focused on preserving food in true Southern fashion. Martha McMillin founded the company to keep family recipes and traditions alive.
Lauren O'Bryan, August 7-13: Southern Craft Creamery specializes in handcrafted ice cream in a variety of flavors. Lauren & Zach O’Bryan make fresh-churned ice cream using local ingredients like Tupelo honey and strawberries, making each of their flavors unique and fresh.