By Dariel Bendin
Art museums, particularly in smaller cities, are often the culmination of monumental efforts by groups of art lovers, and Myrtle Beach’s hidden jewel of a museum is no exception.
Located on Springmaid Beach at the south end of town, the B&C Art Museum was conceptualized by a group of local visionaries who serendipitously came together with the dual purpose of preserving the lifestyle and architecture of old Myrtle Beach and supporting the community of Southern artists who have helped define and enrich the city.
A Brief History
According to Museum records, the Franklin G. Burroughs-Simeon B. Chapin Art Museum first opened its doors in 1997, but the grassroots efforts by artists, art patrons, cultural enthusiasts and a few enlightened business people began at least 13 years earlier when artist Gaye Fisher, then president of the local Waccamaw Arts & Crafts Guild undertook the preservation of the historic Springmaid Villa.
Backtracking even more, the building had been constructed in 1924, a home for textile mogul Eugene Cannon and his wife, Emma, in the Cabana section of Myrtle Beach, quite a ways north of the developed beach area. Twenty years later the couple sold it to Col. Elliot Springs for his family and executives of Springs Industries. At this time, it was renamed Springmaid Villa, and the family owned it for the next 30 years. Over the years, however, building projects steadily surrounded the structure, and by 1975, the family decided to move.
Cox Construction Company became the third owner when they agreed to swap the Springs family a new home in return for Springmaid Villa. However, neither demolition nor development was done on the property, and in 1983, it was abandoned.
Locals feared it would meet the same fate as its neighbor, The Ocean Forest Hotel, which had been torn down years earlier.
Especially concerned was Fisher, who then took charge of the historic structure’s preservation, and began working to resurrect Springmaid Villa as an art museum. She was able to elicit the interest and community support for the project. In Spring 1984, the structure was transported from 5429 N. Ocean Blvd. eight miles south to 3100 S. Ocean Blvd., where the Museum still stands today.
The original plan was to call the new museum the Springmaid Villa Art Museum, but that was changed in order to honor the founders of the Burroughs & Chapin Company who donated the land. So on June 13, 1997, it was the Franklin G. Burroughs-Simeon B. Chapin Art Museum that opened to the public.
The two-story front section of the 10,000 square-foot Museum is the original, although completely renovated, Cannon beach house. Inside there are ten named galleries, used to display the Museum’s permanent collection (which includes the Barbara Burgess and John Dinkelspiel Collection of Southern Art with paintings by artist Jonathan Green, the Mapmakers’ Art, the Waccamaw Arts and Crafts Guild Collection) as well as the many exciting exhibitions hosted by the Museum.
One of the great strengths of this museum is its intimate setting, but the compact footprint never diminishes the experience. The following are just a few recent exhibitions that help elevate the Franklin G. Burroughs-Simeon B. Chapin Art Museum to a level of achievement one might expect from a museum in a much larger city.
• Alex Powers: Inquiries (Oct. 12, 2010 – Jan. 9, 2011), a thought-provoking group of paintings that both questioned and offered commentary on topics such as human origins, religion and economic inequality;
• Serendipity: Raku by Steven Forbes-deSoule (Jan. 9 – March 20, 2011). This colorful exhibition showcased the North Carolina artist’s stunning raku works, some of which featured his newly developed halo/opal glaze.
• The Collectors’ Vision: Southern Folk Art from the Collection of Ann and Ted Oliver ( April 30 – Oct. 2, 2011), an insightful introduction to the passion of folk art collecting – and a look at some of the most sought-after folk artists in the country;
• Brimming Tide: Paintings and Drawings by Brian Rutenberg (Sept. 16, 2011 – Jan. 3, 2012). This was a breath-taking retrospective of the world-renowned abstract artist’s work. The informal lecture he presented offered a rare opportunity to local art lovers.
Celebrating 15 Years
All this brings us to a year-long I (Heart) Art calendar of events to celebrate the Museum’s fifteenth anniversary.
The events will kick off with a community-wide event on Feb. 4. Officials from the Art Museum also unveiled a new museum logo and a special logo for I (Heart) Art. The Museum itself also has a brand new logo designed by LHWH Advertising & Public Relations in Myrtle Beach.
Throughout the year, the Art Museum staff will team with other community arts partners to expand the range of events offered to the public and increase awareness of arts and cultural events across the Grand Strand and the region.
Events throughout the year will include:
• the Collector’s Event, where new and seasoned art collectors will acquire original art at a bargain price;
• a juried exhibition of high school students work and a children’s art auction;
• a summer-long, oceanview putt-putt course on museum grounds with art-themed holes; and
• an art-to-wear and hair runway competition that showcases local designers and hair stylists.
One of the first art exhibitions scheduled for 2012 is From Tree to Treasure: An International Invitational Exhibit of Turned or Sculpted Wood. It will showcase more than 50 works by dozens of artists from all over the country and world.
The Franklin G. Burroughs-Simeon B. Chapin Art Museum is located at 3100 S. Ocean Blvd. in Myrtle Beach.
Hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sundays, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is free, but donations are appreciated.
For more information, call 843-238-2510 or visit the website: www.myrtlebeachartmuseum.com.