Celebrating Art

Message From The Director

Have you ever walked past a beautiful piece of art and thought “where did the artist get their inspiration from?” For centuries, artists have turned to nature for inspiration, and today, there are few places that offer more inspiration than your state parks. For beauty and reflection, state parks are natural spaces that motivate not only artists but all visitors.

Works of art have always played an important role in our parks, some more noticeable than others. Art in the parks is not a new idea, but one worth taking a closer look at with a different perspective.

There are the familiar and more traditional types of artwork, such as the paintings and various types of artwork you’ll find inside the mansions of Redcliffe and Rose Hill. These are the pieces that immediately demand and capture your attention when you enter a room. They connect you with the site and make you realize that art is timeless. You are captivated by the paintings and artifacts today, while recognizing that these same pieces of art help tell the story of the past.

Atalaya Arts and Crafts Festival

Perhaps the Atalaya Arts and Crafts Festival at Huntington Beach is one of the best venues to connect the past with the present. Atalaya itself does this. The picturesque, Moorish-style winter home of Anna Hyatt and Archer Huntington was Mrs. Huntington’s art studio and for more than three decades has hosted the annual Atalaya Arts and Crafts Festival, this year set for Sept. 26-28. The aesthetic beauty and history of Atalaya against the park’s background of natural beauty provides the perfect venue for more than 100 artists. The juried festival offers an opportunity for visitors to meet the artists and feel the inspiration that Mrs. Huntington felt long ago.

Mrs. Huntington’s work goes beyond the coast to the “Carolina Backcountry” where Huntington’s “Boy of the Waxaws” provides the centerpiece at Andrew Jackson State Park. The artwork, a larger than life statue of a young Andrew Jackson on horseback, appears to be right at home “watching” you as you share a spot that meant so much to him.

And then there’s the obvious, the natural beauty of our state that inspires the artist in all of us. Beauty can be found in so many places. Oftentimes we just need the right setting for inspiration. Your parks are those places. Places for inspiration, of reflection and beauty. All that is missing is you. Be an artist. Find your spot, and capture it. The perfect sunset through the tall pines, water falling from the rocks of the Blue Ridge, or the marsh just before dawn -- we all can be artists. The important thing is to capture that moment and make a memory that will last a lifetime.

Artist in Residence Program

If you are serious about being an artist, learn more about our Artist in Residence Program at several of our state parks. The program, now in its 12th year, encourages artists to interpret South Carolina’s state parks through their work. The program offers a one-week stay in a state park cabin to help the artist find inspiration through their park experience. Interested artists are invited to submit their applications by Wednesday, Oct. 31. For more information, contact Oconee State Park at 864-638-5353 or by email.

(This column was written in 2008, the Artist in Residence Program is currently coordinated through our Central Office.  For more information call 843-734-0220.)

Be an artist, even if it’s just for you and your family. Our 75th anniversary celebration is a great time to “come out and play” and even be an artist!

See you in the parks!