Chris Groves' "Pause" 18x34 oil on linen

THE ARTS INITIATIVE AT PALMETTO BLUFF: Still worth the drive!

Last year, I wrote a column about the vibrant arts initiative that is thriving “just over the bridge” at Palmetto Bluff, the beautiful 20,000-acre community situated on the May River between Savannah and Bluffton. I wrote about the thoughtfully created initiative and its artist-in-residency program that operates from March through December. With workshops ranging from free, to very reasonable, to quite expensive, I have been impressed by the variety of creative genres, and by the diverse race and age of participating artists. The art happenings continue to be “worth the drive!”

Each year, notable Southern masters of their craft are invited to address varied themes that tie to the values of the community as they immerse themselves in the local culture and lead workshops. Amy Anderson, VP of Marketing at South Street Partners, owners of Palmetto Bluff, explains that the Arts Initiative is built upon three foundational pillars: inspiration (embodied by the artist-in-residence or program); invitation (manifested in FLOW Gallery + Workshop, the charming exhibition space in Wilson Village, the community’s social hub facilitating engagement, events, and immersive interactions); and installation (building a permanent collection and rotating exhibitions set amidst the Palmetto Bluff landscape).

The Initiative’s third season kicked off in March with a sold-out appearance by the custom cake illusionist Julie McAllister, who joined the Season 3 cast of Netflix’s Is It Cake? April’s Artist-in-Residence was Tybee Island’s ink and acrylic painter Kurtis Schumm, while May will feature oil painter Chris Groves who will host landscape and still life workshops which draw inspiration from Palmetto Bluff’s stunning natural surroundings.

click to enlarge THE ARTS INITIATIVE AT PALMETTO BLUFF: Still worth the drive! (2)
Palmetto Bluff Arts Initiative
The artist Christopher Groves

I am familiar with Groves’ work from visiting Horton Hayes Gallery, one of my favorite Charleston Galleries, and was excited when I read about his three upcoming workshops. Groves has been immersed in art since he was a young boy and has studied at the Florence Academy of Art in Italy, the Colorado Academy of Art, the Loveland Art Academy, the Cottonwood Art Academy, and the Denver Arts Student League. He also enjoyed a private, two-year mentorship with acclaimed Colorado artist Jay Moore, which he considers a turning point in his artistic career.

Groves’ paintings hang in numerous private and corporate collections, and he is the recipient of multiple awards and recognitions. He tells me, “I have a BFA from CU Boulder, with a concentration on Graphic Design and Undergraduate Architecture. Afterwards, I chose to attend various Ateliers to gain more in-depth knowledge and skill that I was not able to get through the university programs.”

Groves continues, “For the most part. I have been around art my whole life. I think initially being around an Atelier environment I loved the energy that came with teaching and learning. I have always tried to keep a balance between galleries, studio time, and teaching. The mix is a beautiful combination for creative energy, and they all help my growth simultaneously. The galleries have been fantastic about allowing me to explore all the variety of subject and genres, connecting me with great artists and clients and people that just love art.”

click to enlarge THE ARTS INITIATIVE AT PALMETTO BLUFF: Still worth the drive! (3)
Palmetto Bluff
Chris Groves' "Soft Evening" 24x24 oil on linen

I wonder if he has a preferred area of expertise, as I know he is an accomplished painter in numerous genres, holding a professional affiliation with the Oil Painters of America – Signature Membership, the American Impressionist Society, and the American Society of Marine Artists – Signature Membership. He answers, “I love doing all subjects and playing between genres. Realism to Abstraction separately and combined within paintings. I began as a portrait painter, but quickly realized that being able to diversity within subjects and genres, I was able to explore painting with more freedom and creativity…

“I was born in Boulder, Colorado and currently live in Charleston , SC. I have a studio in Charleston and a new studio space in Los Angeles, California. I have been spending most of my time working in the studio as I love the creative process, coming up with new ideas, and mark-making. I have also found myself painting much bigger paintings to further the engagement between viewer and the painting.”

click to enlarge THE ARTS INITIATIVE AT PALMETTO BLUFF: Still worth the drive! (4)
Palmetto Bluff
Chris Groves' "Lemons with Vase" 22x22 oil on linen

There will be a complimentary reception to welcome Groves in the FLOW Gallery + Workshop courtyard on Wednesday, May 8 between 4 and 6pm; Registration is required. FLOW sits in the heart of Wilson Village and features a rotating series of exhibitions, workshops, and events while displaying a curated collection of prominent Southern artists.

On Thursday, May 9 between 9:30 and 12:30pm he leads a workshop entitled “Reflection on May River” where he  will instruct attendees on the art of using a "quick sketch" approach to portray the scenic landscape as it appears from the vantage point of Wilson Village. The course will delve into such essential elements as color, landscape design, and composition.

Then on Friday, May 10 between 1 and 4pm he will teach “Still Life Abstract Artifacts” focusing on painting 'single object' still life using artifacts discovered on the property by Dr. Mary Socci and the Palmetto Bluff Archaeology team. Participants will learn how to create and paint in an abstract, quick sketch manner by honing in on the five elements of light and shadow. And finally, on Saturday, May 11 from 9:30 to 12:30pm, he offers “Abstract Palmetto Bluff: A Study of Trees” focusing on depicting palms and Spanish-moss draped live oak.

I asked Groves if he had any words to encourage artists to join his workshops and he answered by saying, “I love working with all levels of artists. In Palmetto Bluff we will just be exploring and really having fun with paint and subject. No matter what or how you like to paint, everyone has a journey, and I want to be able to give all artists a sense of enjoyment and encouragement with their artist’s path. Come have fun and see where it goes!”

The first phase of Palmetto Bluff’s Arts Initiative finishes with June’s Artist-in-Residence, Katie White, who invites guests on an artistic escape via her meditative watercolor classes. However, if painting is not your jam, you may enjoy the third annual FLOW FEST: Palmetto Bluff’s music and arts festival on the Wilson Village Green on Sunday, May 19, 2024. Bluffton favorites Deas-Guyz headline with their Motown, Rock, and Reggae beats, while Charleston-based funk, blues, and Motown band, The Secrets, open. In Summer 2024, The Arts Initiative hosts an “Artist in Residence Summer Sweetgrass Series,” featuring acclaimed artisans Michael Smalls and Dino Badger in July and Jery Taylor in August.

Southern expressionist painter Anna Vaughn will be September’s artist-in-residence, and Clay Ross of  the celebrated Gullah folk band Ranky Tanky will be October’s featured singer-songwriter. November will host another showcase of Palmetto Bluff’s resident creatives in the Artists of the Bluff Fall Art Show, and hand-crafted cast iron kitchen and barware company Blanc Creatives will be artists-in-residence. December features Karin Olah, a Charleston-based artist who combines hand-dyed fabric and paint to create signature multi-layered paintings.

click to enlarge THE ARTS INITIATIVE AT PALMETTO BLUFF: Still worth the drive! (5)
Palmetto Bluff
Chris Groves' "Invasive; Evasive" 36x48 oil on linen

Tickets for March through August artist-in-residence workshops and receptions are now available at www.PBArtsInitiative.com and more information on May’s artist-in-residence Christopher Groves is available at www.cgroves.com.

Beth Logan

Born and raised in Northern Ireland, Beth Logan had a career in healthcare HR and marketing. An artist and former gallery director, she serves on the board of nonprofit ARTS Southeast and has a passion for showcasing Savannah’s arts community, travel, oil painting, and cocktails!
Comments (0)
Add a Comment


  • or

Right Now On

By Film...

By Theater...