The Art Bomb

By Diane Kilgore Condon (pictured)
August 01, 2011

The Art Bomb is living proof that within the most unassuming things, great potential may lie. Credited with launching The Pendleton Street Arts District, The Art Bomb celebrates its 10th anniversary this year. While most people consider The Art Bomb a building, it’s actually a non-profit organization with a mission of maximizing artistic expression from the artists that work from its studios.

It all began in 2001 by Greenville artist Diane Kilgore Condon who wanted to create a community of artists that would challenge each other to develop a deeper level of thinking and skill with their work. With a concept fleshed out in writing, she acquired non-profit status and purchased a run down building on the back end of West Greenville’s main drag at 1320 Pendleton St. With nothing more than high energy and hope, she opened the door for other artists to join her. There was room for 12 artists but far more applied. In 10 years, only eight artists have changed hands at The Art Bomb, which is what Kilgore Condon attributes most to the organization’s success.

“We’re like family,” she explains. “All of the artists here are totally committed to the collective body of art we’re producing and genuinely want to see each other grow as artists. We also share a real desire to help our community mature in its knowledge of, and love for, art.”

Soon after The Art Bomb opened, other artists began purchasing studio space along the same stretch of Pendleton St., some opening galleries where buyers could purchase artwork. People started hearing about the new arts district and what they found was an eclectic blend of “art and real life” with people of all racial and socio-economic backgrounds frequenting the local shops and eating in the nearby restaurants. Even within The Art Bomb itself, that blend of art and real life manifests itself within the collection of furniture, housewares and fixtures found in the building’s common spaces that have been turned into works of art, and within the once weed- and rodent-infested outdoor courtyard that the artists have turned into a relaxing herb and flower garden with fountains and porch swings amidst shade and ornamental trees.

According to Kilgore Condon, preserving the blend of art and real life is the key to the ongoing success of The Pendleton Street Arts District.

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