Five Points - First 100 Years

Posted On December 20, 2015

We’ve played, shopped, dined and partied in one of Columbia’s most iconic areas. It’s the quintessential small-town neighborhood for all the ages.

By Rachel Haynie

Five Points Columbia SC

Merely being described as picturesque was not enough for Five Points. Its inimitable architectural features, its village vibe and its “characters”- including a very informal canine diplomatic corps, have attracted a number of the area’s finest artists to get the village’s charms down for posterity, with brush, pen and chalk. Now, to mark Five Points’ 100th anniversary, new art projects are assuring its history lives on - visually.

Informed by a 2005 plein air initiative conceived to encourage the already-thriving Five Points art scene to attract even more appreciative shoppers and diners to the village, artful 2015 centennial initiatives combine several components.

But, first, back to the 2005 initiative: a hand-selected cadre of Columbia’s top artists set up easels on the sidewalks to sketch and paint where passersby could observe their processes. When Dennis Hiltner, owner of the Gourmet Shop and then president of Five Points Association, proposed the idea to the association membership, many of the artists already had painted in Five Points – regularly – for years. The inaugural group of artists featured: Eileen Blyth, Stephen Chesley, Colin Dodd, Mary Gilkerson, Laurie McIntosh, Blue Sky, Rick Well, Mike Williams, Edward Wimberly, and David Yaghjian.

There were several phases of Paint Five Points, and at the end of each phase, the original art work was offered for sale – and was snapped up quickly by collectors because the pieces captured sentiments held by nearly everyone who ever had strolled, shopped, been entertained or fed in the neighborhood.

If only Five Points’ Founding Father Theodore Dehon could see the art work inspired by the village he alone envisioned. Where eclectic shops now thrum with business, only low-lying, swampy brush and scrubby forest loomed a hundred years ago. Dehon, an astute coal salesman, recognized that residents of Wales Gardens and Shandon would need somewhere to buy groceries and other goods, and access services as well. Quickly, other investors saw his point, and development took off, sending Rocky Branch Creek underground, through giant culverts.

The popularity of the automobile led to the extinction of the trolley line that had served the area – and justified the launching of the first Five Points business, a filling station. From there, supply has followed demand.

As the 365 days of this 100th anniversary year ticked off, this writer approached another cadre of artists, assessing their interest in creating original art depicting Five Points, for both the development of a DVD and for an art show. Enthusiasm was unanimous! The project took on the name: Captured on Canvas: Five Points’ First Century, and will feature works by some of the city’s most sought-after artists. This body of new work will be on view and for sale at Portfolio Gallery. The opening reception for this show is Wednesday, November 18, and also will feature the launch of the new DVD which features local artists’ works conveying Five Points’ history – in brief. This orientation-length DVD was produced especially for the centennial.

Additionally, the evening will include a book signing for South Carolina Blues, authored by blues radio host Clair DeLune. History attests to Five Points being a consistent venue for local and regional blues music, as validated in this just-released book from Arcadia Press.

Plans for bringing the 100th year to a crescendo continue as the year winds down. One of the centennial’s most anticipated events will be the showcasing of new works created by artists who agreed to participate in the 2015 Paint 5 Points initiative; most of these artists had been in the inaugural group, in 2005.

Throughout the fall these chosen artists have staked out their choices of locales to paint in plein air, identifying perspectives not previously captured in paint. Results of their undertakings will remain under wraps until the Big Reveal on December 3. Their works will be the highlight of a ticketed gala on December 3, during A Starry Night, the village’s annual holiday shopping-and-strolling event. For details on the art sale and gala, visit www.fivepointscolumbia.com.

Joining artists from 2005 Paint Five Points initiative are: Jung-Mei Dodd, Jeff Donovan, Susan Lenz, and Brian Rego.

On Thursday evening, December 3, stores will stay open late and offer special sales and complimentary refreshments.

December 3, 2015

A Starry Night will feature

  • Meet Santa – Families will have the opportunity to meet Santa in front of the Hootie Monument on the corner of Santee and Harden
  • Hot chocolate courtesy of H&R Block, and holiday treats at the fountain
  • Live music at the fountain
  • Horse carriage rides
  • Make A Wish Foundation’s Win a Star: donating patrons will be entered into a drawing to win and name a star
  • The Salvation Army’s famous red kettle and toy drive accepting unwrapped toys
  • Pop-up Christmas Tree Farm

Five Points extends from the intersection of Santee, Harden and Devine streets into surrounding residential neighborhoods and the University of South Carolina area.

(Cover art South Carolina Blues)

Proof that the blues as storytelling – at its most compelling, its most playful – emits from the pages of Clair DeLune’s brand new South Carolina Blues like a wailing harmonica. The blues can be medicinal as well, as the deeply-knowledgeable author explains. “Ironically, blues music does not ‘get one down’; in fact, it is sung to ease the mind and rid the heart of woe and misery,” with song and verse as the tonic and pill. The book’s photographs and explanations serve as testimonials that South Carolina can rightfully boast about the surprising numbers and stunning quality of blues musicians and composers whose legacies have been earned in the Palmetto State, over more than a century. Interviews for on-air purposes and collecting of vital oral histories validate the author’s voice of authority on such matters. Listen in on WUSC-FM Tuesday evenings as this new book’s compiler and interpreter begins a second quarter-century as host of the university station’s longest-running program, Blue Moon with Clair DeLune.