Georgetown, South Carolina, is a day-tripper’s dream. It’s a short driving distance from Pawley’s Island, Myrtle Beach and even Charleston but with a population that is a fraction of the larger seacoast cities in the state. With its historic small-town charm, Georgetown offers visitors a perfect place to enjoy Southern coastal life without the hustle and bustle of nearby touristy maritime cities.
It is amid the strollable, live oak-lined streets in the historic downtown known as the Front Street area that Georgetown Art Gallery sits tucked amid shops and restaurants right on the scenic harbor walk. It is in good company with five museums situated on the same street, but the gallery is a special place that showcases artistic life in Georgetown. Unlike many other art galleries, Georgetown Art Gallery is a cooperative of 20 local artists who work together to exhibit a wide range of talent and broaden the reach of each artist’s work beyond the town limits.
“The gallery mimics the charm of Georgetown, a picturesque place that is visitor-friendly and sees lots of travelers coming through looking for that special art piece for their homes,” says Lorraine Dauphin, one of the co-op’s 20 resident artists. “We sell a wide range of fine artwork as well as more affordable cards and prints, so there is something for everyone.”
Georgetown Art Gallery opened in January 1998 and will soon celebrate its 25th anniversary. The gallery has become a staple in the town, offering traditional oil and watercolor paintings, encaustic art, fiber art, photography, acrylic on canvas, etching and other creative mediums. “We have a variety of art displayed in the gallery by a medley of artists,” says current co-op president Jane Thomas. “If I gave the same photo to all the artists to paint, it would look totally different. It is this diversity that we are after.”
“Our art quality is excellent,” says Johnnie Cowan, another artist who is a member of the co-op and a signature member of the SC Watercolor Society. “Our artist-members are very talented, and many of them are represented by more than one gallery. We also are very active in the community, donating to fundraisers such as the Wooden Boat Show each year.”
Because each of the artists takes a turn running the gallery at least once per month, there is always an artist on hand to discuss pieces with visitors. Each artist can answer questions about all of the other artists’ individual works and specialties. From pet portraits to landscapes to Lowcountry scenes to photography and beyond, there is something different to see around every bend in the showroom. “We all cooperate, and it is really rewarding to lift each other up for the benefit of the gallery,” Thomas says.
The gallery is an ever-evolving space, with artists rotating artwork and spaces every few months to keep the inventory fresh and exciting for visitors. This variety provides a chance for collectors and art novices alike to experience new vignettes each time they visit. The gallery currently is maxed out at 20 artists, but as an artist leaves residence, a juried committee accepts applications and artwork samples for review and consideration for the next artist to take the vacant place in the group.
With a recent renovation and refresh under its belt in late January, Georgetown Art Gallery is open almost every day of the week, including holidays, to meet and greet art lovers. It also is able to ship artwork nationally or internationally for purchasers browsing online or those who are shopping on vacation but need chosen pieces shipped back home.
Georgetown should be on everyone’s destination checklist for a chance to enjoy fresh seafood, shop unique items, enjoy a historic tour or two, and partake of the local artistry in such an easily accessible town.
Dana W. Todd is a professional writer specializing in interior design, real estate, luxury homebuilding, landscape design, architecture and art.