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ART (uncorked) offers showcase for new local artists; comfortable look at art for visitors

On the Third Thursday of every month, a short walk down an alley in the Vista will bring you to an art show unlike any you’ve seen before. ART(uncorked) is a free monthly celebration of Columbia’s local art scene, hosted by SakiTumi and featuring a different local artist each month.

“What I want to do with help of Dave [Shaw, owner of SakiTumi] is have an open space where artists aren’t confined by a title,” said ART (uncorked) founder Karl L. Larsen. “These events can be very stuffy… This allows people who aren’t necessarily exposed to art to be exposed to art.”

The atmosphere at ART (Uncorked) is anything but stuffy. SakiTumi offers sushi and drink specials during the event, and the restaurant’s open spaces allow guests to wander freely and check out the art or simply sit at a table or the bar. The featured artist for each month is available to chat, and the art is for sale, but there is no sales pitch and not even a formal program.

At February’s event, college students mingled with young professionals and not-so-young professionals from a wide variety of walks of life. Larsen said University of South Carolina President Harris Pastides dropped casually into the event one month and bought a painting. “We want to be inclusionary, so an artist isn’t scared to come and show,” Larsen said. “Columbia hasn’t had that stepping stone.”

The artists featured each month are newer to the scene, many showing their work for the first time. February featured artist Aaron Shaw said he got into art only about six years ago, but it has become a big part of his life.

“My friends got me into COR and I did their first Time for Art show,” Shaw said. “I started painting more and more and slowly over the past year or two people have started wanting to buy my stuff.”

Shaw stayed until the restaurant closed at the February ART (uncorked), answering questions from any and all. “It’s our job to push the art, push the event,” he said, emphasizing the importance of creating a community.

“We only get one shot at life, so I’m doing something that I love. I’m not compromising and I’m doing what feels right,” Shaw said, adding that he has no single influence as an artist. “I don’t know that much about art either. The only art class I took was in the 8th grade.”

Larsen said the event, now 8 months old, has drawn lots of interest from artists wanting to show and is booked for months to come. “What’s really cool is the artists that have shown before continue to support the artists that come afterwards,” he said. “We’re creating a community here.”

Featured photo: (L-R) Karl L. Larsen, Aaron Shaw and Dave Shaw (photo by Allen Wallace)

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