On the Waiting Room Facebook page, Charleston’s pop-up art gallery is described simply as “an informal pop up gallery for local visual art to thrive and be appreciated.” Despite the simplicity of its online description, the Waiting Room serves as a prime example of what Charleston artists can pull off with the right amount of follow through. Pop- up concerts have developed significantly among the young people of Charleston. It is only logical that a pop-up art gallery would follow with equal success.
Charleston has become a breeding ground for artistic culture. Recently, the people interested in art in Charleston have embraced pop-ups, especially college students interested in artistic expression. Pop-up Charleston, a community of people who promote house music shows, is an example of this. The Waiting Room is similar to Pop-up Charleston in that it takes place in a roaming location and includes the homes of individuals.
The Waiting Room was brought to life by Leigh Sabisch, a junior at the College of Charleston. Sabisch studies Arts Management and Art History, with a minor in sculpture. She wants to open her own gallery in the future. “I hope to grow the Waiting Room into a permanent establishment that is fully dedicated to the growth and development of underrepresented contemporary art,” Sabisch said. The Waiting Room serves as good practice for Sabisch, but also opens doors for artists in Charleston, which is more of what she is attempting to accomplish.
One of the primary objectives of the Waiting Room is to allow for the young artists, both local and throughout the country, to have others engage with their work outside of the studio. Sabisch draws attention to the importance of exposure for the young artist. “I believe that it is important to get their work out of the studio and into the public eye,” she said. Sabisch argues that part of being an artist is exposing the artist’s work. Sabisch believes that the true test of a work of art is for it to speak for itself in an exhibition setting, and she wants her event to “push artists to never stop creating and challenging themselves to break through their comfort zones.”
Though about thirty percent of the artwork on display comes from artists outside of Charleston, Sabisch wants the shows to mainly focus on local artists’ creations. “There is a slew of unrepresented artists in Charleston with extraordinary and largely unseen talent, and there needs to be an outlet for their creations as well,” Sabisch said. She saw artists with so much potential in her classes and wanted those she saw as well as those she’d never met to have an opportunity to showcase their talent.
While many of the ideas behind the Waiting Room were influenced by Sabisch’s desire to exemplify the underrepresentation of talented artists, she has also been influenced by the public perception of art. “Art is often put on a pedestal that sometimes makes it unaccessible,” Sabisch said. She believes that art should be available for everyonetoappreciate,justlikesomanyartistsshouldhave the opportunity to showcase themselves. “One of the major goals for the Waiting Room is to engage the public in art, regardless of financial or societal status,” Sabisch said.
There have been two openings at the Waiting Room so far. The gallery’s location is subject to change due to the nature of a pop up. The first opening took place in March and featured artists such as College of Charleston drawing professor Joshua Lynn, Paisley Addams, as well as a performance art piece by Dumpster Cookies, a local Charleston performance duo who has also performed at King Dusko. This show also featured work by talented students such as Emma Dingler, who when asked about what the Waiting Room exposure meant to her, said, “Exposure is important, because as an art student, you want the community and your peers to see your work.”The second Waiting Room was held in August and featured an even larger variety of artists.
The second opening featured local artists such as Reese, in addition to out of town artists such as Andy Heck Boyd. This opening also featured an acoustic performance by M. Malarkey.
The exact date of the next opening has yet to be announced, but Sabisch said it can be expected within the semester. She also indicated that the setting of this opening will be different from the previous settings. She says we can expect this gallery to take place in a new venue, likely not a house or apartment, where the previous two were held. Some of the artists to be featured in the upcoming opening include: Holden Curran, a photographer, Heather Thorton, a painter and student at College of Charleston, Emily Clark (whose remarkable sense
of form “would make Michelangelo cry”), Lexi Mathis, a Clemson artist, and Wes Israel – whose work Sabisch calls “tastefully off-putting.” The Waiting Room is currently calling for more submissions to be displayed in the next opening. The gallery accepts submissions through Facebook and email (firstname.lastname@example.org).
*This article first appeared in the November 2015 issue of The Yard