Apologies for my absence; it’s been impossible to keep up with my usual routine in the last weeks and the garden, as well as this blog, has suffered. But yesterday, Mother’s Day, was declared “all fun and no work” as Tim and I set aside time to relish Artisphere, Greenville’s annual festival for the visual artists.
After enjoying breakfast at Mary Beth’s (an omelet for Tim and lemon ricotta pancakes for me), we headed for downtown across the Liberty Bridge at Falls Park. The bridge crosses the Reedy River—the same waterway that flows along the rear of our property—and is just two miles upstream from our home.
The bridge’s concrete reinforced deck (345 feet long, 12 feet wide and 8 inches thick) is supported by a single suspension cable. It’s distinctive curve has a radius of 214 feet and is cantilevered toward the waterfall from supporting cables on the outside. The deck also inclines 12 feet (3 percent) from east to west over the river.
It was here, near the falls, that Greenville’s first European settler, Richard Pearis, established his trading post in 1768. Pearis later built grist and saw mills and the location continued as the area’s epicenter of industry until the 1920s. Although you wouldn’t know it now, Greenville was once touted as the “Textile Center of the South,” with three mills operating on the river.
Falls Park was established in 1967 when 26 acres were reclaimed from development for restoration and preservation, but the park came into its own with the completion of the pedestrian bridge in 2004. Today, Falls Park hosts many public events and is regarded as a feature attraction of the Upstate.
Yesterday’s brilliant blue skies and warm temperatures brought out the crowd for Artisphere’s 10th annual event. In addition to painters, photographers, and sculptors, the festival also features digital, mixed media, wood, metal, fiber, glass, jewelry, and performance artists. And, of course, an array of food vendors add to the excitement.
Tim and I enjoyed strolling the booths and chatting with a few local artists including Joseph Bradley. It wasn’t long, however, before we claimed an empty bench to watch the spectacle.
Of special interest was the commemorative sculpture, Ten Artispheres, recently added to downtown. Located just west of the Main Street bridge, near High Cotton, the piece was presented to the city by TD Bank. Artist John Acorn’s contemporary design was inspired by a sweetgum ball, the prickly fruit of Liquidumbar styraciflua.
Acorn, who chaired the Art Department at Clemson University for 21 years before retiring in 1997, is an active arts advocate in the Upstate and his work can be found in public and private collections across the Southeast.
Here are a few more photos of the day…exemplifying the spirit of life that makes our town special.
For a map of Falls Park, click here.