Columbia's vibrant arts scene, driven in recent years by multiple gallery openings, festivals and special events nearly every month, came to a standstill a year ago when COVID-19 shut the city down. While some events continue virtually and others begin returning with a modified format, some local artists aren't waiting, opting instead to take their art directly to the streets. Or at least their front yards.
Keenan Terrace Art in the Yard, first held last fall, was inspired by similar neighborhood art crawls in the Cottontown and Melrose Heights areas, and is the brainchild of Bohumila Augustinova.
The native of Tiznov, in the Czech Republic, has lived in Columbia for most of her adult life, including more than five years in Keenan Terrace, a quiet, neighborhood-within-a-neighborhood of smaller family homes between the Earlewood Park and Eau Claire communities.
A creator of artwork and jewelry made from pieces of wire and metal, as well as a ceramic artist, Augustinova developed a reputation as a proficient curator and gallery manager at the Anastasia and Friends gallery (in front of the old Free Times office on Main Street), and in her current position as arts and culture specialist at the Columbia Art Center.
In 2020, a friend invited her to participate in several open-air "art crawl" events in Melrose Heights, where neighborhood artists and invited guests set up tables in their front yards to display and sell their wares.
“It was warm outside, everyone was really good about wearing masks, and it was good seeing friends," she recalled.
"And good to get rid of stuff," she added, referring to the quickly accumulating inventory that a prolific creator in quarantine can produce.
Sharing her enthusiasm with a couple of fellow artists who lived nearby, Augustinova launched the first Keenan Terrace art event last fall in her spacious front yard.
“The first time was epic," she said, adding that, of the 14 participants, nearly all reported their best sales ever for this type of event.
Twenty artists will be featured at the next event, to be held April 10, including neo-expressionist painters Michael Krajewski and Lucas Sams, metalsmith and lapidary artisan Valerie Lamott, mixed media artists Susan Lenz and K. Wayne Thornley (both of whom have been featured in Lake City’s prestigious ArtFields competition) and Flavia Lovatelli and Aimee Norris, who work with recycled paper and rock mandalas respectively. Also featured are work from Candace Cotterman Thibeault, container gardening creations by Stan Cummings, and designer fashion items from Mary Catherine Kunze of Uniquely MC and Diko Pekdemir-Lewis of Anton and Maxine.
Live entertainment will be provided by singer-songwriter Adam Corbett, who has performed in the band The Restoration, and who discovered a new creative outlet during the quarantine in visual art, which will also be on display for sale.
As with last fall’s dog-friendly, kid-friendly event, there is no budget, apart from a token participants’ fee that covered printing costs for some flyers. Everything else has been done via free social media and word of mouth.
An enthusiast and supporter of traditional galleries, Augustinova noted that those locations “can be tricky when you’re trying to shop.” With everyone located together in her yard, though, “people can walk around and look at everything, and then go back and pick out” whatever object may have appealed to them.
“Not everyone is comfortable going to a gallery show. People are intimidated. Here, people will see art” in a more accessible environment, she reasoned. “People will also see crafts, right next to fine art,” the organizer added, noting that elitists may look down on crafts, but those creators ply their trade “for life, and they put their hearts and souls into their work.”
One man featured makes hand-crafted lures for fly-fishing.
“Why not?” Augustinova exclaimed. “He was having a ball (at the previous event), and he was the first this year to say, ‘I’m in.”
Also, in the current pandemic, capacity and ventilation remain concerns for some in attending indoor galleries. Ideally, visitors can feel more at ease in an open-air environment in someone’s yard. This remains Augustinova’s hope, at least.
“Art can be just as beautiful in a garden — maybe even more so,” she enthused.
Keenan Terrace Art in the Yard
April 10. 2-6 p.m. facebook.com/events/1077821249392360.