Lake City art festival showcases southern artists

Visitors look at like artwork like "Mother Figure" inside the Jones and Carter building.

LAKE CITY, S.C. (WPDE) - Artwork from all over the Southeast is being showcased at a ten-day festival in downtown Lake City. It's called ArtFields and it's happening from April 19 - 28. The festival is the brainchild of financier Darla Moore. A native of the town and known for her philanthropic efforts.

When you think of Lake City, art may not be the first thing that comes to mind. But as soon as you walk into the Jones and Carter building, you're taken to an upscale art gallery belonging in any major city; complete with classical music, chocolate covered strawberries and champagne.

"I wasn't expecting as much as I saw, so I was slightly surprised. I know that Lake City and the surrounding areas have a lot of culture, have a lot of artwork to offer people, and they don't know anything about it," said Talia Dukes of Florence.

"We named it ArtFields which stands for arts plus agriculture. Arts is kind of where Lake City is going, and agriculture is where we're rooted," explained Karen Fowler, ArtFields Executive Director. "It's nice to say that the hub for ArtFields is now what once was a tobacco company and warehouse, and it's now a venue for art."

The works of 400 artists from nearly a dozen southern states are being featured at nearly 40 businesses. As people browse, they're also picking their favorite.

"It was a portrait of two hands being held. You didn't really know what was going on, but it made you really think. It made you wonder what type of conversations they were having. And if you actually look at the picture and see what the picture was, it's like what am I presenting, what is being brought in this conversation and what would possess these two individuals to be holding hands that looked very different but had the unity to have a decent conversation?" added Dukes.

The festival is also a contest for the artists. $100,000 will be split among three lucky winners. Organizers say it's the largest cash prize of any art contest in the Southeast. Beyond that, organizers say bringing the event to the area allows visitors to learn from the creativity of art.

Fowler explained why the dandelion is their logo. "We like the power of the dandelion. When you blow on the dandelion, you spread the seed, and that's kind of what we're doing. We're spreading the word."

They are exposing art to a community rooted in agriculture.

Fowler hopes the festival, which also features musical performance and workshops, will become an annual event.

"We've seen the power of art. We've seen the power of what art can do to a community. It's broadening. There's so much to learn from art, the creativity. I think in this day's economic times, we need to get more creative as communities," she added.

For a complete schedule of all the events click here.