INDIE GRITS/701 CCA: TURNING COLUMBIA UPSIDE-DOWN

Knowing that the month of April was going to be unusually busy (hello, understatement!), I asked a very talented young writer to do a couple of guest posts for Camille this week.  I don't know how he had time to do it, but those who have worked with Mikelle Street know that he is capable of pulling off miracles of time and resources. The University of South Carolina student was the PR guru for the USC Fashion Board in addition to a full load of classes, a job and taking freelance writing gigs. I don't know anyone who was that busy in college (a good chunk of my college years consisted of sulking, reading, going to bars and dark coffee shops, sulking some more and writing about it, and going to bars). Last Thursday we attended the kickoff for Columbia'sIndie Grits Film Festival and celebration of the start of 701 CCA's Open Studios tour. Here is Mikelle's report from the event:

Indie Grits and 701 CCA's Open Studios kicked off on Thursday April 11 with the trappings of a Flock + Rally Events and Communications shin-dig. The women over at F+R combined their event planning skills with the special place in their hearts for all things local, to add an indie-artsy twist to the night.

For those of you haven't yet heard about Indie Grits, it is a juried independent film festival that has been taking place in Columbia since 2007. As word rapidly spreads throughout the region and country about the festival, it is becoming know for creating an exhibition opportunity for smaller films that may not fit other festivals. Throughout the course of the event, which runs through April 29, there are screenings, discussions, parties and performances that are all progressive and entertaining.

The 701 Center for Contemporary Art co-hosted the party, whose purpose was also to kickoff Open Studios, which offered the opportunity for the public to tour any of 69 artist studios throughout the Columbia area this past weekend. It was a big splash of a celebration bringing Columbia's growing art culture into the spotlight.

The Grand Hall of  the historic 701 Whaley building was made over into what can only be explained as an interactive map of Columbia, which served as the floor, with a couple landmarks as stand alone structures.

Scott Hall Catering set up a fancy grits bar (fried leeks anyone?) next to a make-your-own Lite Brite station.  The playlist was diverse... apparently the DJ's instructions were to play a little background music, but this soon gave way to tunes that went with the unanticipated dance floor that sprang up and went on for hours.

Overall it was a night of celebration of Columbia's progressive arts scene and unique personality. As Indie Grits has progressed throughout the week it has maintained the energy created at the April 19 and then some. For more information, please visit indiegrits.com.

All photos courtesy of Jonathan Sharpe Photography