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The Charleston Fine Art Dealers’ Association puts paint on school palettes
On July 18, some 450 art lovers will take to downtown streets to parade among the eight galleries that claim membership in the Charleston Fine Art Dealers’ Association (CFADA). At each stop on this Palette & Palate Stroll, special exhibits await, along with wine and delicious fare served up by top Charleston restaurants (Halls, Circa 1886, Cypress, Oak, McCrady’s, and more) that donate their talents.
Since 2006, the event has raised some $9,000 annually to benefit art programs at the College of Charleston, Gibbes Museum of Art, and Redux Contemporary Art Center. That means that each year, one CofC studio art student receives a scholarship; while Redux and the Gibbes feed their education programs. “We use the money to purchase supplies and pay teachers and models, creating jobs for local artists while supporting our artistic community,” explains Redux executive director Stacy Huggins.
These are precisely the kind of results gallery owners hoped to see when they formed CFADA in 1999. Looking to bolster Charleston’s reputation as a fine art destination, they began hosting more exhibits, sharing expertise through catalogues and publications, and fundraising. In 15 years, they have donated $296,000 to local art education initiatives.
In addition to the Palette & Palate Stroll, CFADA hosts the Charleston Fine Art Annual. The highlight of the weekend-long affair (this year, it’s November 7-8) is Painting in the Park, when visitors can watch regionally and nationally known artists paint in plein air in Washington Park. They can also view local works selected for the Annual High School Art Competition—appropriate given that funds raised during the weekend go directly to fine art programs at 11 local high schools.
“When we heard in 2005 that Charleston County’s public high school art programs were only receiving approximately $200 per year per school, we were shocked,” says Ella Richardson, CFADA’s then-president. “We have been raising funds for this cause ever since.”
By putting paint on the brushes of local students, the association hopes to make art more accessible, build self-esteem, and improve studies. “We are blessed to be in the visual arts world that we love and hope that the next generation is as fortunate to find their own passion, wherever that may lie,” says Richardson.
Walk the Walk: For details on the Palette & Palate Stroll on July 18, see the events calander.
Photograph courtesy of Vladia Jurcova-Spencer