Visitors study art by artists who have studios at Stormwater Studios on Huger Street in downtown Columbia. (Photos by Shamariah Vanderhorst/Carolina News and Reporter)

“The art that I do brings me joy, and so I hope that other people enjoy it as well,” said Maya Smith, an artist participating in the Midlands’ recent Open Studios tour.

Open Studios, hosted by Columbia’s 701 Center for Contemporary Art, is the largest art event in the Midlands, allowing art enthusiasts access to artists’ workspaces for a weekend.

The self-guided tour featured a map of studios around the city with studio addresses and names of the artists.

Jean Lomasto, a Brooklyn-born artist, said Open Studios is a way for her to meet other artists and expose everyone’s art to the community.

Some studios were in the homes of the artists, adding a personal touch to the experience.

“It’s always really nice to go and see the changes in people’s work or how their studios are set up,” said Christina Mandel, a Charleston artist who was visiting Columbia studios. She also liked “the welcoming nature of the whole event.”

Mandel said she’s been participating in the art event for years.

Open Studios features artists from different backgrounds and art styles, providing a diverse range of viewing options.

Smith, a Black artist, said the event was a way to display her diverse art, including textiles and patterns, to showcase people who look like her.

“I’m hoping that people come and they see themselves, (or) they see someone else,” Smith said.

Pat Gilmartin started making art after retiring at 62 years old, encouraging others that it’s never too late to start.

Ozon Wilson, a Columbia photographer, came to support his fellow artists.

“I hope as time goes on and they (701) do more of these, the knowledge and knowing about the different art that’s here in Columbia (will spread),” Wilson said.

He said speaking with the artists personally gives the community a better understanding of the art presented.

Artist David H. Yaghjian, whose work is seen above, said he hopes Open Studios gives the community a sense of the creativity going on in the Midlands.

Stormwater Studios was one of the locations on the weekend tour, displaying various artists during Open Studios.

“I’m hoping that people come and they see themselves, (or) they see someone else,” said Maya Smith, the artist whose work is shown above.

Some studio spaces were in the homes of the artists, providing a personal touch to the experience.

Art below by: Michel McNinch, Maya Smith, David H. Yaghjian, Pat Gilmartin, Apryl Campbell, Debora Life, Clark Ellefson, Jean Lomasto and Mary Robinson