By Kim Sullivan | Downtown Beaufort is the kind of area you want to walk around in. Beautiful architecture, shops, boutiques, and the air filled with aromas of delicious foods waiting to be discovered in the local restaurants. A walk down Bay Street also provides a trip from one amazing gallery to another, each filled with the creations of local artisans who put love and passion into each and every work of art. But not all of the galleries and studios are located on Bay…they are scattered around the area like little treasures waiting to be discovered.
As an artist myself, seeking out these studios is the most fun. I enjoy meeting the artists and hearing their stories. While working on the “Notes” art auction for the Boys and Girls Club, I discovered there was a studio called “Atelier on Bay” comprised of fourteen (yes I said fourteen) local artists from diverse backgrounds and media who use the space as a working production studio and exhibit gallery. With FOURTEEN artists, it must be like a factory just pumping out creativity. I couldn’t wait to meet all of these artists and hear about their works.
After a walk down Bay Street and back up the other side I began to wonder where it was! I mean fourteen artists upstairs in the historic Lipsitz Department Store should be a breeze to find on Bay, right? Well let’s just say there is another arts street in town named West Street, and it’s right off Bay. That’s right. Atelier on Bay is really on West Street and definitely worth the turn around the corner where there is a lot of WOW for arts enthusiasts.
In 2013 Jeff Bisger opened the historic building to reach both a retail and arts destination market, providing the upstairs space to local artists seeking studio spaces for rent downtown. Originally the upstairs was set to open with five available spaces, but once the artist community heard of the concept, Bisger was contacted by many more and realized there was a demand for more spaces.
The French term “atelier” in itself sounds artsy and is defined as an artist working space. Once you take a step inside the door there’s no doubt you are surrounded by talented, creative artists at work.. A listing of all fourteen artists and descriptions of their work will greet you right at the front entrance. Just a quick look up the stairs gives a hint of the fantastic art waiting inside from handcrafted jewelry, drawings, paintings and even book arts. Their spaces are uniquely their own.
And, the best part…you can meet the artists and watch them create.
While meandering through each of studios don’t miss the central gallery which exhibits works of art from all of the Atelier artists, featuring new works each month. Most of the artists can be found at Atelier on Bay daily, but the Studio is open to the public daily Monday through Saturday from 11-5 at 203 West Street right off Bay.
For more information on the artists at Atelier call 843.470.0266