The event will feature 65 artists in Richland and Lexington counties. (Photo courtesy of 701 CCA)

Artists in the Columbia area will welcome visitors into their private studios this weekend as a part of the “Columbia Open Studios.”

The free, two-day event hosted by 701 Center for Contemporary Art is April 1-2 and features 65 artists that create in various mediums. 

Morale for the weekend is high for artists and visitors alike. 

“Being exposed to different art, styles and creativity brings joy to the world. I want to support that,” said Timia Thompson, who attended the event’s launch party Wednesday at 701 Whaley St.

This is the 9th Columbia Open Studios for 701 CCA, and the event sees thousands of guests each year. 

“It shows how diverse and expansive the art world is,” said 701 CCA Executive Director Caitlin Bright. “There’s art everywhere, not just in museums and galleries.”

That’s what makes Open Studios special – the public gets a peek behind the curtain.

“It’s a way to take the mystery out of art and artists,” said Harriett Green, who advises 701 CCA. 

Visitors will be able to buy the art directly from the artist.

The artists vary, from potters to painters to photographers and more. Some have been in the professional art game for years, and others are just getting their foot in the door.

“This event is kind of my introduction to the art community here,” said painter Dawn Whitley. “It’s great being included with other artists that are well-known.”

701 Center for Contemporary Art is a non-profit organization and gallery that is supported by the city of Columbia and Richland County. 

Through hosting Columbia Open Studios, it hopes to offer marketing opportunities to artists and highlight the art community, while elevating Columbia as a cultural tourism destination, according to its website.

“I’m accustomed to marketing being 30% of my expenses,” said potter Ed Bryan, who has participated in the event for years. “This expense ratio for this weekend is only about 10%.”

Open Studios does more than build up the art community. The event brings all types of people together.

“Everybody has a story,” said visitor Bill Schmidt. “I just enjoy getting out and meeting new people.”

The map showing the artists’ studios can be found on 701 CCA’s website and in this week’s edition of Free Times. (Photo courtesy of 701 CCA)