Longtime Savannahians may know that Polk’s, the family-run produce business still in operation today, first started in the 1930’s in the old City Market. After the market was demolished in 1954 to make way for a parking garage, the store moved to the site of the current Vinnie Van GoGo’s, and then to Liberty Street. Today, Polk’s is no longer in the historic district and their former Liberty Street location has been transformed into a beautiful two-story building and courtyard designed by Greenline Architecture.
Situated at the corner of East Liberty and Houston Street, and shaded by a towering live oak, the new building’s façade is simple yet striking, with its center pop of eye-catching bright yellow. It is home to two newly created businesses - Artstryngs Gallery & Studio and Suntone Recording Studio which will officially open on Friday, Feb. 23. Mother and son team Rebecca and Adam Wyatt have a mission “to provide an inspiring and collaborative environment for artists, musicians, and other related disciplines to create, teach, practice, and display their craft.” I recently met with co-owner and visionary, Rebecca Wyatt, and Gallery & Studio Coordinator, Victoria Paterno to find out more.
Mom Rebecca says she had always noticed this “old building and thought it would make a really interesting studio one day.” Early in the pandemic, it went back on the market. She purchased it and embarked on a multi-year project with Greenline and with an architectural acoustic firm, Wes Lachot Design Group, to create the stunning multi-use space it is today.
“We really love the blend of art and music,” Wyatt tells me. “I’ve always had a love of art - both my mother and grandmother were artists - and I have experience with home-staging and flipping houses.” To supplement her creative aptitude, she brought on Victoria Paterno as gallery coordinator last year.
Paterno graduated SCAD with a BFA in photography in 2020, and is currently coordinating the inaugural exhibition and opening reception for the community on Friday, Feb. 23 from 6-9pm. Local artists are submitting artwork and local musicians are submitting songs inspired by their unique interpretation of love. Entitled Heart Stryngs: Exploring the Many Dimensions of Love Through Visual Art & Sound, the show will run through April 6 when first, second and third place winners of the art exhibition and song competition will be announced.
The vision for this beautiful space is that it will help creators create... Photography studios, artist studios, flexible gallery spaces, and a music rehearsal space are all available for short-term rental, and the state-of-the-art recording studio is available for longer-term rental. I take the tour…
Downstairs is the main gallery that will soon display the inaugural show. With 12-foot ceilings, movable walls, track lighting, a small catering kitchen, and lots of natural light, the 960 square foot space opens onto a modern and spacious courtyard, with room for a food truck to pull in through the gates off the lane. Wyatt and Paterno envision small musical performances, lectures, private fundraisers, craft shows, all kinds of fun art gatherings, silent discos, and fashion shows with models descending the wide and open metal stairway into the courtyard. (This last idea seems like a fabulous concept when only a handful of SCAD’s School of Fashion graduates are given the honor of being selected for the prestigious annual fashion show.)
We leave the courtyard through a different door and enter the comfortable lounge of Suntone Recording Studio, named after Adam’s paternal grandfather’s barbershop quartet, The Suntones. The Wes Lachot Group from Chapel Hill, NC designed the studio and outfitted it with custom-made, bespoke, honeycomb-design acoustic panels.
Adam, who is seated behind an impressive API 2448 console that features 32 channels, tells me the “live room” is spacious enough to accommodate a whole rock band or a classical music ensemble. An upright piano, drum kit, and other basic instruments are provided, and top-of-the-line microphones and other equipment combine to produce quality sound that will lend itself to those wanting to record podcasts, movie tracks, music videos, voice-over recordings, whatever. Ideas are bubbling and versatility is the name of the game.
Because artist Melissa Bell is currently painting a mural in the stairwell, we take the ADA-compliant elevator to the second floor. Upstairs is a spacious, carpeted music rehearsal studio equipped with acoustic panels that make it almost 100 percent soundproof. (Adam, plays with local cover band, Outlaw Gypsy.) The “Good Vibrations” studio comes equipped with a drum kit, guitar amps, bass amp, keyboard, and PA/monitoring system for vocalists.
Next to “Good Vibrations” is a space called “Northern Lights” (with two north-facing windows) which, on the day I tour, is set up as a photography studio with studio lighting and backdrops. This versatile room can also be used for small exhibitions or craft-making projects and has been soundproofed to potentially accommodate music lessons.
Come check out this exciting addition to our artistic community by attending the Heart Stryngs show on Feb. 23! As Rebecca Wyatt says, “This is more than just a gallery. We see it as a creative space. It’s like our Field of Dreams… ‘Build it and they will come’…This whole project was a project of the heart for us.”
Artstryngs Gallery & Studio (open Wednesday through Sunday from 10-4:00pm) and Suntone Recording Studio are located at 530 E. Liberty Street. The opening reception for Heart Stryngs: Exploring the Many Dimensions of Love Through Visual Art & Sound is Friday, February 23 from 6-9pm. Find details about booking and rental rates at www.artstryngs.com or call 912.710.8464, and follow on Instagram @artstryngs and @suntone.recording